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Every society has its own socially acknowledged means by which societal norms and values, beliefs are infused into every member of society.

Everything you do is, by and large, a product of what we learn through socialization.

Socialization is the process by which individuals are taught the social skills necessary to become functioning members of society.

Socialization can also be defined as the process by which people learn the characteristics of their social group–skills, knowledge, values, norms, beliefs, ideologies thought appropriate for them.

Socialization is also the process by which norms, values, and ideologies are transferred to future leaders. Thus, Socialization is how our culture and society are upheld.

Socialization is a continuous, unending process. It starts at infant and terminates at death. 

Everybody whether infant, preschooler, primary schooler, high schooler, college student, and even mature adult is still experiencing the lifelong process of socialization.

To better understand socialization, let's look at a theory of socialization: Looking glass self.

Looking-glass Self And Self theory of socialization

One of the earliest sociologists Charles Horton cooley professed that people's self-understanding is developed by their perception of how others view them- a process he called the looking-glass self.

The looking-glass self implies that a person's "self" is shaped by his/her social interaction and perception of others. 

In other words, the looking-glass self is the term used to describe the process by which individuals develop their "self" by internalizing others' reactions to themselves.

The notion of the looking-glass concept is that people construct themselves based on other people's perceptions. This, in turn, cause an individual to re-enforce other people's perspective on themselves.

For example, when we feel ashamed, it is due to what we think people perceive us as.

Years later after Charles Cooley coined the "looking-glass self", another sociologist(or if you like philosopher), George mead study the concept of "self".

The self is an individual internalized conscience developed through interpersonal relationships and the perception of others.

George Herbert Mead opined that the self is the part of an individual personality comprised of self-awareness and self-image.

According to him, this self is not present at birth, rather it is developed through social experience.

Both George mead and Charles Horton Cooley are symbolism interactionists, you will know more about theoretical perspectives here

Having looked at some basic theories of socialization, let's turn on our social deprivation.

Social Deprivation

Human beings are social animals( or if you like social creatures), therefore, social interaction is necessary.

But, what happens if they are deprived of social interaction? You guess right! Social deprivation.

Social deprivation occurs when an individual has restricted access to culturally normal social contact. 

In other words, Social deprivation is the complete or near-complete deprivation of social interaction between an individual and the rest of the society.

As research has shown, victims of social deprivation may suffer from mental illness or human development issues. 

In most instances of social deprivation, development tends to be delayed and in severe cases, hindered. 

Feral children provide a good example of social deprivation. A Feral child is a human child who has lived without human contact as a result of being abandoned and allegedly raised by animals.

Feral children lack social skills that are usually learned during the process of socialization. They have little or no social experience and lack social interaction. 

In some cases, the parent of these children abandoned them due to their physical impairment. 

Some studies have revealed that feral children most times suffer development issues like a lack of language skills and social understanding. 

For example, they may not be able to walk alright after previously walking four legs.
They may find it difficult to learn or understand human language. 

Fran├žois Truffaut's 1970 movie "the wild child" depicts a classic example of a feral child.

Now, We turn our attention to some form of socialization.

Primary And Secondary Socialization

A newborn baby is a biological organism that certainly does not have any idea of societal norms and values. They learn this behaviour through a process called primary socialization. 

Primary socialization is the process or means by which a child learns the values, and behaviour that is appropriate to members of society. 

As I said before, primary socialization is enforced by family and friends.

Secondary or adult socialization is the process of learning skills, knowledge, values, and behaviours that are appropriate to members of a smaller group. 

It arises because an individual has assumed a new role. Secondary socialization is mostly enforced by schools, workplaces, etc.

To illustrate, when new employees are employed, they immediately learned the skills, knowledge, and even the jargon of their new workplace. This process is secondary socialization.

Gender And Racial Socialization

Gender socialization is the process by which family and society teach young children behaviour, attitude, and social skills that are thought appropriate for them because they are male or female. 

More specifically, Gender socialization is how society set children into different life courses because they are male or female. 

In gender socialization, people learn to take gender roles.

In simple words, Gender socialization is the process by which boys learn to behave like boys and girls learn to behave like girls. These behaviours are more or less determined by societal values.

Though Individuals are taught "gender-based behaviour" by many agents of socialization, the family has arguably the most critical role in reinforcing gender roles.

Family is the primary centre of a child's life. Family plays an important role in child development, influencing the attitude and values a child will hold.

Often, parents teach children the behaviour, attitudes, and values of their ethnic group. This is called racial socialization.

Racial socialization is essentially the process by which race-related messages about values are transmitted by parents to their children. 

In clear terms, race socialization is the process by which parent teach their children about their race and what it seems like to be from that race. It is common among American African children

Anticipatory Socialization

Anticipatory socialization is the process of learning skills, and values in preparation for future roles. 

In anticipatory socialization, people adapt and adjust to skills, values, and attitudes in anticipation of future roles. 

It is a kind of rehearsal, which involves changing attitude and behaviour in preparation for a shift in role.

An example of anticipatory socialization would be a young adult who saves for old age. As another example, a couple who cohabit together before marriage is practising anticipatory socialization.


Re-socialization is the process by which an individual unlearned old behaviour and learns new behaviours that are vital to his/her new role.

In re-socialization, individuals acquire behaviours, attitudes, and lifestyles that are completely(or near-complete) different from their previous attitudes and behaviour.

You will agree with me that re-socialization is usually more stressful than typical socialization as the individual will have to unlearn his natural behaviour and learn new ones that are necessary for his new roles and statuses. 

For example, a child who goes to boarding school will require some form of re-socialization. In his new environment, his former behaviour could be deemed inappropriate or unsuitable.

Resocialization may be voluntary or involuntary.

When a person enrols in a new college and needs to acquire the new value system in place at the college, that is an example of voluntary resocialization.

When someone moves to a new country and must adapt to its value system, that is another example of resocialization at work.

A common form of involuntary re-socialization happens in a total institution. 

Total institutions, coined by Erving Goffman, are institutions where people are isolated from the rest of society and are almost totally controlled by the officials who run the places.

In total institutions, people are cut off from the wider society for a substantial time, and their needs and behaviour are supervised Impersonally by officials of these institutions. 

Prison is a good example of a total institution. Prisoners are typically separated from the rest of society and are required to follow the traffic warden's orders

Another example is a psychiatric hospital. During their time in the hospital, psychiatric patients are usually restrained to their rooms and prevented from interacting with the outside world.

One way total institutions initiate members into their new roles is by de-socializing new entrants. 

This process may include stripping new entrants of old behaviours, lifestyles, values, or identities.

In more extreme cases, new entrants may be stripped of their independence and subjected to mortifying and degrading measures.

Having looked at the different forms of socialization, our last task is a debate.....

Nature Vs Nurture: A Moot

Some sociologists have argued that our behaviour is based on relationships and caring around us( nurture). 

Others have argued that our behaviour is a result of our inherent genetic makeup(nature). 

Nature, in this context, is the genetic makeup and innate human qualities. 

Nurture, on the other hand, is the caring and relationship around and given to an individual. This ranges from parental and extended family care to environmental factors (like mass and social media).

Related post

The nature vs nurture debate is now fast becoming a rising debate in sociology, law, and criminal defence. 

The debate range over whether a person's attitude and behavioural traits are shaped more by his personal experiences or his genetic makeup.

Some researcher has studied twins to determine the influence of nature and nurture on personal behavioural traits.

The study has shown that twins raised separately shared similar traits, like facial expressions and hand gestures. 

The studies give credit to the nature side of the nature vs nurture debate.

Even though these studies have given credit to the nature side of the debate, Sociologists should be discreet in generalizing the result of this study because the sample size used then is very small.

There you have it! Is your behaviour, and attitudes largely determined by nature or nurture? I would love to hear from you in the comment box.

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