# Socialization

## According to functionalists, the socialization process is coercive, forcing us to accept to the values and norms of society.

#### Key Points

• Structural functionalists view the socialization process as one where the values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced.

• Socialization refers to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society.

• The values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced.

• Robert K. Merton coined the term "role model" and hypothesized that individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires.

• The key processes for Talcott Parsons for system reproduction are socialization and social control.

• Socialization is supported by the positive and negative sanctioning of role behaviors that do or do not meet these expectations.

#### Terms

• Groups to which a person may compare himself to.

• An implicit agreement or contract among members of a society that dictates things that are considered acceptable conduct.

#### Examples

• One might use a reference group to determine his or her affluence: An individual in the U.S. with an annual income of $80,000, may consider himself affluent if he compares himself to those who earn roughly$35,000 a year. If, however, the same person considers the relevant reference group to be those in the top 0.1% of households in the U.S., those making $1.6 million or more, then the individual's income of$80,000 would make him or her seem rather poor.

#### Figures

1. ##### Socialization of Direct Marketing

The concept of socialization being used for advertising.

2. ##### Toddler Socialization

Three-year-old female toddler showing signs of healthy socialization: Having lifted her shirt, she is concentrating on playing at attaching an under-nourished doll to her breast. Her sister is four months old and breast fed on demand.

Socialization is a term that refers to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society (Figure 2). Socialization describes a process that may lead to desirable or moral outcomes. Individual views on certain issues, such as race or economics, may be socialized within a society.

## Functionalist Perspective on Socialization

The Functionalist paradigm describes society as stable and describes all of the various mechanisms that maintain social stability. Functionalism argues that the social structure is responsible for all stability and instability, and that that the social structure is continuously attempting to maintain social equilibrium among all the components of society.

According to functionalists, the socialization process is coercive, forcing us to accept the values and norms of society. The values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced. People follow and accept the values and norms of society in order to maintain their own safety as well as maintaining social order.

## Robert K. Merton

The term role model generally means any "person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others.” The term first appeared in Robert K. Merton's socialization research of medical students. Merton hypothesized that socialization happens when individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires. Beginning with Merton, sociologists call any group that individuals use as a standard for evaluating themselves and their own behavior a reference group. For example, an individual in the U.S. with an annual income of $80,000, may consider himself affluent if he compares himself to those who earn roughly$35,000 a year. If, however, the same person considers the relevant reference group to be those in the top 0.1 percent of households in the U.S., those making $1.6 million or more, then the individual's income of$80,000 would make him or her seem rather poor.

## Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons was heavily influenced by Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, synthesizing much of their work into his action theory, which he based on the system-theoretical concept and the methodological principle of voluntary action. The key processes for Parsons for system reproduction are socialization and social control. Socialization is important because it is the mechanism for transferring the accepted norms and values of society to the individuals within the system. Parsons never spoke about "perfect socialization"—in any society socialization was only partial and "incomplete" from an integral point of view. Socialization is supported by the positive and negative sanctioning of role behaviors that do or do not meet these expectations. A punishment could be informal, like a snicker or gossip, or more formalized, through institutions such as prisons and mental institutions.

#### Key Term Glossary

concept
An understanding retained in the mind, from experience, reasoning and/or imagination; a generalization (generic, basic form), or abstraction (mental impression), of a particular set of instances or occurrences (specific, though different, recorded manifestations of the concept).
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control
A separate group or subject in an experiment against which the results are compared where the primary variable is low or nonexistent.
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custom
Frequent repetition of the same behavior; way of behavior common to many; ordinary manner; habitual practice; usage; method of doing, living or behaving.
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economics
The study of resource allocation, distribution and consumption; of capital and investment; and of management of the factors of production.
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Emile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.
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equilibrium
In economics, the point at which supply equals demand and prices cease fluctuating.
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functionalism
Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
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functionalist perspective
Functionalism is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
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group
A number of things or persons being in some relation to one another.
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habit
An action performed repeatedly and automatically, usually without awareness.
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ideology
the doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group
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income
money one earns by working, or by capitalising off other people's work
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individual
A person considered alone, rather than as belonging to a group of people.
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institution
An established organization, especially one dedicated to education, public service, culture, or the care of the destitute, poor etc.
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Max Weber
(1864–1920) A German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself.
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moral
Conforming to a standard of right behaviour; sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment.
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More
A way to refer to norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance. Mores include an aversion for societal taboos, such as incest or pederasty.
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mores
A set of moral norms or customs derived from generally accepted practices. Mores derive from the established practices of a society rather than its written laws.
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norm
A rule that is enforced by members of a community.
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A system of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality.
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prison
A place of long-term confinement for those convicted of serious crimes, or otherwise considered undesirable by the government.
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punishment
The act or process of punishing, imposing and/or applying a sanction.
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race
A large group of people distinguished from others on the basis of a common heritage or common physical characteristics, such as skin color and hair type.
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reference group
it is a concept referring to a group to which an individual or another group is compared.
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Reference Groups
Groups to which a person may compare himself to.
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research
Diligent inquiry or examination to seek or revise facts, principles, theories, and applications.
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role model
A person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others
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skill
Capacity to do something well; technique, ability. Skills are usually acquired or learned, as opposed to abilities, which are often thought of as innate.
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social contract
An implicit agreement or contract among members of a society that dictates things that are considered acceptable conduct.
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social control
any control, either formal or informal, that is exerted by a group, especially by one's peers
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socialization
The process of learning one’s culture and how to live within it.
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Socialization
Socialization is the process of transferring norms, values, beliefs, and behaviors to future group members.
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social role
it is a set of connected behaviors, rights, and obligations as conceptualized by actors in a social situation.
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Social Role
Labeling theory concerns itself mostly not with the normal roles that define our lives, but with those very special roles that society provides for deviant behavior, called deviant roles, stigmatic roles, or social stigma.
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Social Roles
One’s position and responsibilities in society, which are largely determined in modern developed nations by occupation and family position.
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society
a long-standing group of people sharing cultural aspects such as language, dress, norms of behavior and artistic forms
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sociologist
A social scientist focused on the study of society, human social interaction, and the rules and processes that bind and separate people not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups and institutions.
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structure
A cohesive whole built up of distinct parts.
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student
A person who studies a particular academic subject
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system
A collection of organized things; as in a solar system.
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theory
A coherent statement or set of ideas that explains observed facts or phenomena, or which sets out the laws and principles of something known or observed; a hypothesis confirmed by observation, experiment, etc.
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value
The degree of importance given to something.
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values
A collection of guiding principles; what one deems to be correct and desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct.