Is socialisation something that parents do to their children?
Socialisation is an interactive and dynamic process by which children make sense of their lives. It is the process through which a child becomes an active competent participant in one or more communities. How much of this process is carried out fundamentally by parents, and how much by other "sets" of people a child comes into contact with, will be the subject of this essay. The extent to which socialisation is a reciprocal process with the child actively involved in their socialisation will also be explored.
Rudolph Schaffer, a British psychologist, (discussed in chapter 1 "What is Socialisation" section 3.2) studied child rearing beliefs and practices. He identified four models of socialising as done by parents in their child rearing practices i.e. "Laissez-faire", "Clay moulding", "Conflict" and "Mutuality", and linked these models to recognised discourses on children and childhood, namely the Romantic, Tabla Rasa or Blank Slate, and the Puritan discourses. Scaffer (p 11) suggests that each child-rearing model can be linked to ideas of how children should be treated (discourses). e.g.
Laissez faire - sees the child as pre-formed and allows/expects the child to develop at their own rate, to move on when they are ready (within widely defined parameters), e.g in the Mundurucu (Ch 1 Reading A p34.) Boys from the age of 8 progressively spend more time in the men's hut and less with their mothers. So the socialising could be said to pass from the mother to the father at this point. In our schools the laissez-faire belief means much more freedom for the child to follow their own interests and develop in areas that interest them. It could be said that the laissez faire parenting style is actually a cop out of parental responsibilities; this would be a value judgement as different cultures have different values. Wilfred from the video 2 Band 1 Daily Lives-Cape Town, tells us that his parents "tell me they are not taking care of me" Which seems harsh to us, but in Wilfred's world seems to be the norm. His parents seem to expect him to get on and survive as best he can in the company of his peers. 2.
Clay Moulding or Blank Slate (Tabla Rasa) - sees the child as a passive recipient of socialisation. Children viewed like this would be subject to much more explicit training and instruction based schooling. 3.
Conflict - this is influenced by the Puritan discourse where the child is seen as needing an adult to "correct its inherent faults". 4.
Mutuality Assumes the child to have an inbuilt drive to socialise, using aspects of the laissez faire model and the conflict model resulting in negotiation between child and parent, a system of reward and punishment where the key is to be sensitive and responsive to the developing child, to achieve effective socialisation.
As discussed in Chapter 1. 3.3. there is increasingly interest in the child's perspective on topics directly relating to them. Cleopatre Montandon, a sociologist in Switzerland conducted a survey on 67 girls and boys aged eleven to twelve years to elicit their views on the parenting styles they were familiar with. The children showed themselves to be well aware of the power imbalance in parent/child dealings. They discussed various strategies/responses ranging from compliance to argument. Most of the strategies were all too familiar to me as a parent. The children seemed to expect some discipline and control in their lives and saw a lack of it as "not caring" (p 14) on the part of the parent. The children were all from one type of cultural context (Geneva) so possibly children from different cultural contexts would have experience of different parenting styles and cultural expectations.
Children's intellectual development and socialisation within different contexts are closely connected. Children are "shaped" by their principal carers in the ways a particular society...
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