Socialisation Process


Socialisation – a ‘core theme’ of sociology

SOCIALISATION is the process through which children learn to be effective members of society. It is the means by which the older generation (parents, teachers) pass on the core values, beliefs, norms and traditions of a society to the next generation.

Socialisation and culture help to shape the identity of the individuals who make up society.

  • it’s the way we learn the things that make us ‘fit in’
  • it’s how we acquire the beliefs, habits, skills to be part of society

Socialisation includes

  • language
  • norms & values (ways of behaving)

Socialisation is a life-long process

  • childhood
  • adolescence
  • middle-age
  • old-age

socialisation helps us understand society in terms of . . .

  • age
  • disability
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • sexuality
  • social class

We are socialised through AGENCIES of socialisation in two key ways . . .

  • PRIMARY socialisation – family, parents
  • SECONDARY socialisation – the rest of life’s experiences
Sociologists view the process of socialisation in fundamentally different ways. Their basic views are summarised here:

Murdock (Functionalist) primary socialisation of the young – teaching basic norms and values

Parsons (Functionalist) the first of TWO key functions of family. Socialisation occurs during early years of childhood. During this process a child’s personality is moulded so that the core values of the society become part of that child. Parsons argued families act like factories with the processes and systems available to it to continually ‘reproduce human personalities’ in a warm secure environment

Marxist (Conflict) socialisation as a negative process, where people are  indoctrinated with the dominant ideology (capitalism). Marxists have a very negative view of socialisation, they see it as a process of “ideological conditioning”.  This is very much seen as a negative process where a child is brainwashed into submitting to those in authority

Neo-Marxist (Conflict) socialisation isn’t as effective as Marxists presume – people are indoctrinated by institutions of the state, but they actively fight against that indoctrination, and may set up counter-cultures and protest movements

Bourdieu talked about cultural capital, which is a means by which class inequalities can be passed through generations – children from better off families will go to private schools, get music lessons, play particular types of sports and get to know networks of the “right kind of people” in order to succeed in capitalist society

Feminist (Conflict) women are exploited to teach the norms and values that lead to patriarchy and female oppression. They believe this is done through agents such as the family in the form of  primary socialisation,

Interactionist (symbolic interactionism) micro perspective on socialisation – so the bottom up view which essentially supports the idea that people play an active role in their own socialisation – people have choice, they are not simply victims of structural  socialisation agencies

Idea of the family as caregivers. Children form an early attachment to their caregivers, and these caregivers are there in the early years as the children go through the first stages of their biological development.  During this stage children are very mouldable, and their acquisition of language and symbols will be essential for their future socialisation and life chances

Postmodernism – we are not transmitted the norms and values of our society through agents of socialisation. In a postmodern society such as ours (which celebrates diversity), we as consumers choose our identity and pick up the norms and customs of our society ourselves. This is through personal experience.