What Is Socialization ?

Human infants are born without any culture.  They must be transformed by their parents, teachers, and others into cultural and socially adept animals.  The general process of acquiring culture is referred to as socialization. Successful socialization can result in uniformity within a society.

Socialization is important in the process of personality formation.  While much of human personality is the result of our genes, the socialization process can mold it in particular directions by encouraging specific beliefs and attitudes as well as selectively providing experiences.  This very likely accounts for much of the difference between the common personality types in one society in comparison to another.  For instance, the Semai tribesmen of the central Malay Peninsula of Malaysia typically are gentle people who do not like violent, aggressive individuals.  In fact, they avoid them whenever possible.  In contrast, the Yanomamö Indians on the border area between Venezuela and Brazil usually train their boys to be tough and aggressive.

How are People Socialized?

Socialization is the process by which children and adults learn from others. We begin learning from others during the early days of life; and most people continue their social learning all through life (unless some mental or physical disability slows or stops the learning process). Sometimes the learning is fun, as when we learn a new sport, art or musical technique from a friend we like. At other times, social learning is painful, as when we learn not to drive too fast by receiving a large fine for speeding.

Agents of Socialization

The individual responds differently to different socialization patterns. The following paragraphs will help to explain the influences of socialization on an individual.

The most important agent of socialization, family helps mold an individual. The family values, beliefs, religious inclinations and political views shape an individual’s outlook towards society. Parents are the biggest influence for the social development in children.

After family, schools are probably the most important influence on an individual. Schools help pass on knowledge, create awareness and inculcate the feelings of tolerance in individuals. The second step to socialization is schools where a child meets different children and learns to make out the right and wrong in society.

Community and Culture
Community and culture help pass on the religious views and cultural traditions in an individual. A community is the group where an individual meets people with similar ideologies and interact for personal and community growth.

Meeting like-minded people, making friends and hanging out together may seem like a teenagers life. But in fact, each and every individual in society loves to have social contact. Peers have great impact on an individual’s thoughts and line of thinking. An individual learns to behave in a manner that they think will be acceptable to their peers. Peer acceptance is an important part of socialization.

Mass Media
In today’s world, mass media is one of important ways of socialization. People are influenced by the social norms portrayed by the mass media. Political, religious and social views are enforced in a hard way through the repeated exposure and arguments put forth by the agents of mass media.
Through the above explanation, you will understand, that agents of socialization play an important role in an individual’s life. The different positive attributes fed by these agents create harmony in an individual that makes him feel confident and respect social etiquette.


Primary socialization for a child is very important because it sets the ground work for all future socialization. Primary Socialization occurs when a child learns the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture. It is mainly influenced by the immediate family and friends. For example if a child saw his/her mother expressing a discriminatory opinion about a minority group, then that child may think this behavior is acceptable and could continue to have this opinion about minority groups.

Secondary socialization Secondary socialization refers to the process of learning what is the appropriate behavior as a member of a smaller group within the larger society. Basically, it is the behavioral patterns reinforced by socializing agents of society. Secondary socialization takes place outside the home. Secondary Socialization is usually associated with teenagers and adults, and involves smaller changes than those occurring in primary socialization. Such examples of Secondary Socialization are entering a new profession or relocating to a new environment or society.

Anticipatory socialization Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person “rehearses” for future positions, occupations, and social relationships. For example, a couple might move in together before getting married in order to try out, or anticipate, what living together will be like] Research by Kenneth J. Levine and Cynthia A. Hoffner suggests that parents are the main source of anticipatory socialization in regards to jobs and careers.

Re-socialization Re-socialization refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns and reflexes, accepting new ones as part of a transition in one’s life. This occurs throughout the human life cycle. Re-socialization can be an intense experience, with the individual experiencing a sharp break with his or her past, as well as a need to learn and be exposed to radically different norms and values




Organizational socialization

Organizational socialization is the process whereby an employee learns the knowledge and skills necessary to assume his or her organizational role. As newcomers become socialized, they learn about the organization and its history, values, jargon, culture, and procedures. This acquired knowledge about new employees’ future work environment affects the way they are able to apply their skills and abilities to their jobs. Socialization functions as a control system in that newcomers learn to internalize and obey organizational values and practices.



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