Socialisation

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Socialisation, according to the Collins dictionary of sociological terms, ‘ is a process of learning how to behave according to the expected norms of your culture’, it includes how one learns to live in the way that others expect of them, and helps social interaction by means of give and take of common values, customs, traditions and languages. This is an ongoing process which not only leads to the all round development of an individual, but also cultivates within a person a sense of belonging with regards to family, friends, people and society as a whole. This is emphasized by Parsons and Bales (1955), ‘socialisation, undertaken in the family and elsewhere, involves both integration into society and the differentiation of one individual from another’. This essay will discuss socialisation and how it shapes individuals throughout their lives and the process of primary and secondary socialisation, and also analyse a case study of an un-socialised human. I will talk about the main agents of socialisation and try to explain ‘differential’ socialisation by using examples of class, gender or ethnicity. I will evaluate by the use of example, the process of re-socialisation Theorist Talcott Parsons (in The Three Stages of Socialisation) theorised that there are ‘three steps of socialisation’, primary, secondary and tertiary, each step takes place at different stages of one’s life. The socialisation process begins at birth and continues until we die. Sociologists refer to the process of socialisation in early childhood as ‘’Primary Socialisation’’. This occurs mostly within the family and home. Children learn from their parents, but also from other family members. The family therefore plays a significant and defining role in the primary stage. This process includes such things as a child learning to walk and talk as well as values between right and wrong depending on one’s culture. Socialisation occurs as parents teach their children the basic rules of society. Secondary socialisation takes place outside the home and is a wider process of learning and represents a new developmental stage; this occurs between the individual and people in their life with whom they have secondary relationships. This is necessary because it represents the way individuals start to learn about the nature of the social world beyond their primary contacts; this includes learning what is classed as acceptable or appropriate behaviour with a small group. The transition from infancy to childhood to adolescence and adulthood are all accompanied by a socialisation process that is designed to equip individuals socially and culturally with all the skills necessary to grow and co-exist in society. Socialisation contributes to the formation of an individual’s personality, which would include: the pattern of behaviour and ways of thinking that are distinctive for each individual. George Herbert Mead (1934) defined self as ‘the individual’s active awareness of existing as a distinct object in the midst of society’. Throughout the years sociologists have remained constant on the definition of self, McCall &Simmons (1978). Hence, ultimately, via positive socialisation experiences an individual develops a sense of self. The nature versus nurture debate is controversial and surrounds the relative influence of environment and heredity on children’s behaviour. Questions regarding this issue include; does nature and nurture interact? How is emotional development influenced? This debate revolves around nature versus nurture, nature with nurture or do they stand alone? In 350 BC Plato believed that most ideas were innate (existing in one from birth), a view still held in 1600’s by Descartes. Wiggan (1923) stated’’ Heredity, not environment is chief maker of man; the differences among men are due to differences in germ cells with which they were born’’. The other side of nature versus nurture debate lies with those who believe nurture is the reasonable cause for...
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