Explain the concept of socialization and how useful is it in understanding human behavior?

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Explain the concept of socialization and how useful is it in understanding human behavior?

Socialization is the process in which an individual learns the way of life of his/her society, learn the trick of the trade and develops the capacity and the potential to function both as an individual and as a member of the society by internalizing the culture in which the society is based on. Socialization is a life-long process occurring at all stages in life starting from the day the individual is born.

Naturally, sociologists believe that most (if not all) human behavior is a learned response and not instinctual. They have to learn to rely and cooperate with others to satisfy the basic needs. What make this cooperation possible are behavioral pattern and a system of communication shared by the members of a culture. Sociologists believe that besides eating, breathing - there is no other human behavior that is genetically coded.

Through the process of socialization a human being is taught the necessary skills demanded for living in the society. The person will be able to communicate effectively and develop the ability to read, speak and write.

Socialization is what makes us different from animals. Through socialization an individual will internalize the norms and values of society. By doing so, the individual will be able to develop the sense of self. He will be aware of his place in the society, develop a distinct entity, apart from other people and things.

The process of socialization can be divided into primary socialization that starts from infanthood by family members and secondary socialization by agents other than the family such as the school, peer groups and mass media.

The family is the main agent of socialization. Infants are totally dependent on those around them. The family provides protection, love, attention, affection and of course the basic needs such as food and clothing. To young children, the parents represent the whole world around them. The parents teach their children the attitudes and values accepted by the society.

Other agents of socialization such as the school transmit accumulated knowledge and ways of society. The mass media play an important role to reinforce culture and norms. It can also distort norms by giving a false impression of society.

Shared values are integral to in shaping human behavior and lay down guidelines to appropriate behavior in society. Such definition for accepted behavior varies from one society to another. For example, in Western culture, it is considered deviant, rude and uncivilized to eat with your hand. However, in most Asian countries it is regarded as a norm to eat with your hand. A child would therefore through socialization be brought up in the context of accepted norms and values in his society and be accepted as one of the members in that particular group.

One way to show the importance of socialization is to take into account cases of human isolation where the individuals have no contact whatsoever with other human beings. Cases such as Emperor Akbar's experiment in raising children among deaf mutes, the little girl Genie who was kept locked for years, Isabella the little girl from Spain and the Midnapore children. From these cases it is clear that without socialization individuals would bear little resemblance to human beings. They will not be able to become functional members of society due to lack of knowledge on accepted norms and values and due to lack of communication.

According to Functionalism, socialization is an integral process, a means in unifying members of society and maintaining social order. Durkheim sees the answer for social order in consensus, the collective conscience consisting of common beliefs and sentiments. Only through the process of socialization the collective conscience can be achieved. When values are internalized and institutionalized and behavior is structured in term of them the result is a stable system,...
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