SOCIALIZATION- Concept, Types, and Agencies

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

The human infant comes into the world as biological organism is govern by instinctive needs. He is gradually molded into a social being and he learns social ways of acting and feeling. Without this process of molding, the society could not continue itself, nor could culture exist, nor could the individual become a person.  Socialization makes it possible for us to fully function as human beings. Without socialization, we could not have our society and culture. This process of molding is called ‘Socialization’. Every man tries to adjust himself to the condition and environment predominantly determined by the society of which he is a member. This process of adjustment may be termed socialization.

The concept of 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. Socialization is known as the process of inducting the individual into the social world. The term socialization refers to the process of interaction through which the growing individual learns the habits, attitudes, values and beliefs of the social group into which he has been born.

Socialization is the process by which human infants begin to acquire the skills necessary to perform as a functioning member of their society, and is the most influential learning process one can experience. Unlike many other living species, whose behavior is biologically set, humans need social experiences to learn their culture and to survive. . Many scientists say socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children.

Socialization, is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and educationalists to refer to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs, and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society. Socialization is thus “the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained”.

Socialization is a processes with the help of which a living organism is changed into a social being. It is a process through which the younger generation learns the adult role which it has to play subsequently. It is a continuous process in the life of an individual and it continues from generation to generation. Socialization prepares people to participate in a social group by teaching them its norms and expectations. Socialization has three primary goals: teaching impulse control and developing a conscience, preparing people to perform certain social roles, and cultivating shared sources of meaning and value. Socialization is culturally specific, but this does not mean certain cultures are better or worse than others. The process of learning one’s culture and how to live within it.

Socialization is, thus, a process of cultural learning whereby a new person acquires necessary skills and education to play a regular part in a social system. The process is essentially the same in all societies, though institutional arrangements vary. The process continues throughout life as each new situation arises. Socialization is the process of fitting individuals into particular forms of group life, transforming human organism into social being sand transmitting established cultural traditions.

“Socialization” is defined as the process by which we acquire our social identities and internalize the values, norms, statuses, and roles of the social world. Schaefer: “Socialization is the process whereby people learn the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture”

Socialization, according to MacIver, “is the process by which social beings establish wider and profounder relationships with one another, in which they become more bound up with, and  perceptive of the personality of themselves and of others and build up the complex structure of nearer and wider association.”

Kimball Young writes, “Socialization will mean the process of inducting the individual into the social and cultural world; of making him a particular member in society and its various groups and inducting him to accept the norms and values of that society…. Socialization is definitely a matter of learning and not of biological inheritance.”

It is through the process of socialization that the new born individual is molded into a social being and men find their fulfillment within society. Man becomes what he is by socialization. Bogardus defines socialization as the “process of working together, of developing group responsibility, of being guided by the welfare needs of others.”

According to Ogburn, “Socialization is the process by which the individual learns to conform to the norms of the group.” Ross defined socialization as “the development of the we feeling in associates and their growth in capacity and will to act together.” Through the process of socialization the individual becomes a social person and attains personality.

Green defined socialization “as the process by which the child acquires a cultural content, along with self-hood and personality”.

Arnett, outlined what he believes to be the three goals of socialization:

1.            impulse control and the development of a conscience

2.            role preparation and performance, including occupational roles, gender roles, and roles in institutions such as marriage and parenthood

3.            the cultivation of sources of meaning, or what is important, valued, and to be lived for

In short, socialization is the process that prepares humans to function in social life. It should be re-iterated here that socialization is culturally relative – people in different cultures and people that occupy different racial, classed, gendered, sexual, and religious social locations are socialized differently. This distinction does not and should not inherently force an evaluative judgement. Socialization, because it is the adoption of culture, is going to be different in every culture and within different subcultures. Socialization, as both process or an outcome, is not better or worse in any particular culture or subculture.

Characteristics/ Features of Socialization

The following are some the important features/ characteristic of Socialization –

Socialization takes place formally and informally:

Formal socialization takes through direct instruction and education in schools and colleges. Family is, however, the primary and the most influential source of education. Children learn their language, customs, norms and values in the family.

Socialization is a continuous and gradual, rather than a salutatory process  :

Socialization is a life-long process. It does not cease when a child becomes an adult. In nature we find that every species or organism follows a pattern of socialization. The same is the case with human beings. Socialization occurs in orderly manner and follows a certain sequence which, in general is the same for most children. The rate and speed of development may vary in individual cases.

Socialization is a product of interaction of the organism and its environment.

. But it is not possible to indicate exactly in what proportion heredity and environment contribute to the   of an Individual Socialization. The two work hand in hand from the very conceptions. The environment bears upon the new organism from the beginning. Among, the environmental factors like nutrition, climate, the conditions in the home, the type of social organisation in which individual move and live, the roles they have to play and other.

Socialization is a continues process -

Socialization   does not stop at any time. It continues from the moment of conception until the individual reaches maturity. It takes place at a slow or a rapid rate but at a regular pace rather than by leaps and bounds.

There may be a break in the continuity of growth due to illness, starvation or malnutrition or other environmental factors or some abnormal conditions in the child’s life.

Socialization is rapid if there is more humanity among the- agencies of socialization:

Socialization takes place rapidly if the agencies’ of socialization are more unanimous in their ideas and skills. When there is conflict between the ideas, examples and skills transmitted in home and those transmitted by school or peer, socialization of the individual tends to be slower and ineffective.

Socialization proceeds from general to specific responses-

It is observed that general activity always precedes specific activity. The early responses of the baby are very general in nature which is gradually replaced with specific ones. The earliest emotional responses of the new born are generally diffused excitement and this slowly gives way to specific emotional patterns of anger, joy, fear, etc. Babies wave their arms in general, random movements before they are capable of such specific responses as reaching for an object held before them.

Socialization involves change-

The human being is never static. From the moment of conception to the time of death, the person is undergoing changes. Nature shapes most clearly Socialization through genetic programming that may determine whole sequences of later. It refers to a Socialization progressive series of orderly coherent changes.

Socialization is often predictable-

Psychologists have observed that each phase has certain Socialization common traits and characteristics. We have seen that the rate of for each child Socialization  is fairly constant. The consequence is that it is possible for us to predict at an early age the range within which the child is likely to fall.

Socialization is unique-

Each child is a unique individual. No two children can be expected to behave or develop in an identical manner although they are of the same age. For example, in the same class, a child who comes from a deprived environment cannot be expected to do as well in studies as a child of the same ability whose parents put high value on education and encourage the child to study.

Socialization is an individualized process:

These individual differences arise because each child is controlled by a unique combination of hereditary endowment and environmental factors. All children therefore do not reach the same point of   at the same Socialization age.

Socialization practices varied markedly from society to society.

The socialization practices were generally similar among people of the same society.  This is not surprising since people from the same culture and community are likely to share core values and perceptions. During the early 1950′s, John and Beatrice Whitiing led an extensive field study of early socialization practices in six different societies.  They were the Gusii   of Kenya, the Rajputs   of India, the village of Taira   on the island of Okinawa in Japan, the Tarong   of the Philippines, the Mixteca   Indians of central Mexico, and a New England community that was given the pseudonym Orchardtown.  All of these societies shared in common the fact that they were relatively homogeneous culturally

Types of Socialization-

Group socialization:

Group socialization is holds that an individual’s peer groups, rather than parental figures, influences his or her personality and behavior in adulthood. Adolescents spend more time with peers than with parents. Therefore, peer groups have stronger correlations with personality development than parental figures do. Entering high school is a crucial moment in many adolescent’s lifespan involving the branching off from the restraints of their parents. When dealing with new life challenges, adolescents take comfort in discussing these issues within their peer groups instead of their parents.

Gender socialization:

Henslin  contends that “an important part of socialization is the learning of culturally defined gender roles.” Gender socialization refers to the learning of behavior and attitudes considered appropriate for a given sex. Boys learn to be boys and girls learn to be girls. This “learning” happens by way of many different agents of socialization.

Parents plays a very significant role in gender socialization. Sociologists have identified four ways in which parents socialize gender roles in their children: Shaping gender related attributes through toys and activities, differing their interaction with children based on the sex of the child, and communicating gender ideals and expectations.

Anticipatory socialization and  Re-socialization:

Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person “rehearses” for future positions, occupations, and social relationships. 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.

Racial socialization and cultural socialization:

Racial socialization has been defined as “the developmental processes by which children acquire the behaviors, perceptions, values, and attitudes of an ethnic group, and come to see themselves and others as members of the group”. Cultural socialization refers to parenting practices that teach children about their racial history or heritage and is sometimes referred to as pride development.

Planned socialization and   Natural Socialization :

Planned socialization occurs when other people take actions designed to teach or train others—from infancy on.  Natural socialization occurs when infants and youngsters explore, play and discover the social world around them.

Positive socialization and Negative socialization:

Positive socialization is the type of social learning that is based on pleasurable and exciting experiences. We tend to like the people who fill our social learning processes with positive motivation, loving care, and rewarding opportunities. Negative socialization occurs when others use punishment, harsh criticisms or anger to try to “teach us a lesson;” and often we come to dislike both negative socialization and the people who impose it on us.

Broad and Narrow Socialization:

Arnett proposed an interesting though seldom used distinction in types of socialization. Arnett distinguishes between broad and narrow socialization. Broad socialization is intended to promote independence, individualism, and self-expression; it is dubbed broad because this type of socialization has the potential of resulting in a broad range of outcomes. Narrow socialization is intended to promote obedience and conformity; it is dubbed narrow because there is a narrow range of outcomes.

Primary and Secondary Socialization:

Primary socialization takes place early in life, as a child and adolescent. 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.   Secondary socialization refers to the socialization that takes place throughout one’s life, both as a child and as one encounters new groups that require additional 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. It is where children and adults learn how to act in a way that is appropriate for the situations they are in.[22] Schools require very different behavior from the home, and Children must act according to new rules. New teachers have to act in a way that is different from pupils and learn the new rules from people around them. Secondary Socialization is usually associated with teenagers and adults, and involves smaller changes than those occurring in primary socialization

Agencies of Socialization:

Socialization is a process by which culture is transmitted to the younger generation and men learn the rules and practices of social groups to which they belong. Every society builds an institutional framework within which socialization of the child takes place. Culture is transmitted through the communication they have with one another and communication thus comes to be the essence of the process of culture transmission. In a society there exists a number of agencies to socialize the child.

To facilitate socialization different agencies play important roles. These agencies are however interrelated.


The family is rightly called the cradle of social virtues. Family being a mini society acts as a transmission belt between the individual and society. The family plays an outstanding role in the socialization process. The family is the most important agent of socialization because it is the center of the child’s life, as infants are totally dependent on others. Not all socialization is intentional, it depends on the surrounding.  Family plays the most important role in the formation of personality. The family has informal control over its members It trains the younger generation in such a way that it can take the adult roles in proper manner. As family is primary and intimate group, it uses informal methods of social control to check the undesirable behavior on the part of its members. . The parents use both reward and punishment to imbibe what is socially required from a child.

The process of socialization remains a process because of the interplay between individual life cycle and family life cycle.

According to Robert. K. Merton, “it is the family which is a major transmission belt for the diffusion of cultural standards to the oncoming generation”. The family serves as “the natural and convenient channel of social continuity. The most profound effect is gender socialization; however, the family also shoulders the task of teaching children cultural values and attitudes about themselves and others. Children learn continuously from the environment that adults create. Children also become aware of class at a very early age and assign different values to each class accordingly.

In rural societies, children have most of their early social contact with the family. Today, however, the family’s importance in the child’s life is changing. Although most children growing up  today will spend a great deal of time with people other than members of their families, this does not mean that the participation of families in socialization has ended.Still the family continues to be a major means of passing on values, attitudes, and behaviors.

The Day-care:

Today, however, the family’s importance in the child’s life is changing. The family no longer necessarily conforms to the stereotypical nuclear family with two parents and two or more dependent children. Fewer families are consists of a working father, full-time homemaker mother, and at least one child. There are more and more single-parent families, where mothers with children under 6 years old are working .More and more children are receiving their early and primary care from others in addition to their parents. For these children, day care is an important agent of socialization The day-care are informal arrangements at the home of a neighbor, large nurseries run by schools, churches, charities, corporations, and occasionally employers .

Social Class

Kohn, explored differences in how parents raise their children relative to their social class. Kohn found that lower class parents were more likely to emphasize conformity in their children whereas middle-class parents were more likely to emphasize creativity and self-reliance. Ellis et. al. proposed and found that parents value conformity over self-reliance in children to the extent that conformity superseded self-reliance as a criterion for success in their own endeavors. In other words, Ellis et. al. verified that the reason lower-class parents emphasize conformity in their children is because they experience conformity in their day-to-day activities

Peer Group:

A peer group is a social group whose members have interests, social positions and age in common. This is where children can escape supervision and learn to form relationships on their own.  A peer group consists of friends and associates who are about the same age and social status . Peer Group means a group in which the members share some common characteristics such as age or sex etc. It is made up of the contemporaries of the child, his associates in school, in playground and in street. The growing child learns some very important lessons from his peer group. Since members of the peer group are at the same stage of socialization, they freely and spontaneously interact with each other.

The members of peer groups have other sources of information about the culture and thus the acquisition of culture goes on. They view the world through the same eyes and share the same subjective attitudes. In order to be accepted by his peer group, the child must exhibit the characteristic attitudes, the likes and dislikes.

As children get older, going to school brings them into regular contact with other children of their age. As early as first or second grade, children form social groups. In these early peer groups, children learn to share toys and other scarce resources (such as the teacher’s attention). Peers may reinforce behaviors that are stressed by parents and schools. Youthful concerns may center on popular music and movies, sports, sex, or illegal activities. Conflict arises when standards of the peer group differ from the standards of the child’s family.  Parents and teachers, on the other hand, want children to do schoolwork, help at home, and “stay out of trouble.”

The influence of the peer group typically peaks during adolescence however peer groups generally only affect short term interests unlike the family which has long term influence In our society, adolescents are heavily influenced by their peers when it comes to dress, musical fads, cheating, and drug use. In making their future life plans, however, they are influenced more by their parents than by their peers . Girls seem to be somewhat more influenced in their future life plans by peers than are boys. Peer groups may provide social rewards–praise, prestige, and attention–to individuals for doing things adults disapprove of.


Depending on the language and situation at any given time, people will socialize differently . People learn to socialize differently depending on the specific language and culture in which they live. A specific example of this is code switching. This is where immigrant children learn to behave in accordance with the languages used in their lives: separate languages at home and in peer groups (mainly in educational settings.

Political Parities/ Nationalism:

Every society tries to influence how young people grow up. Much of this influence is expressed through parents, schools, and peers, but it is worth considering for a moment how children become exposed to the political and economic ideas that are considered important for citizens of a particular country.

Children learn political information and attitudes rapidly during the elementary school years. One of the first things they learn is that they belong to some kind of a political unit. Even very young children develop a sense of “we” in relation to their own country and learn to see other countries in terms of”they.” Children also tend to believe that their own country and language are superior to others. This bond may be the most critical socialization feature relating to the political life of the nation. The family helps provide this basic loyalty to country, but the school also shapes the political concepts that expand and develop children’s early feelings of attachment. Political orientations develop early and reach nearly adult levels by the end of elementary school, but there are still some critical changes that occur at other points during the life cycle. High school students become more aware of differences between political parties and tend to become more active politically.


Religion has been an important factor in society. In the early society religion provided a bond of unity. Though in modern society the importance of religion has diminished, yet it continues to mould our beliefs and ways of life. In every family some or the other religious practices are observed on one or the other occasion. The child sees his parents going to the temple and performing religious ceremonies. He listens to religious sermons which may determine his course of life and shape his ideas.

Religion play a very important role in socialization. Agents of socialization differ in effects across religious traditions. Some believe religion is like an ethnic or cultural category, making it less likely for the individuals to break from religious affiliations and be more socialized in this setting. Parental religious participation is the most influential part of religious socialization—more so than religious peers or religious beliefs.

Educational Institutions:

Every civilized society therefore has developed a set of formalized agencies of education (schools, colleges and universities) which have a great bearing on the socialization process. It is in the educational institutions that the culture is formally transmitted and acquired.

The educational institutions not only help the growing child in learning language and other subjects but also instill the concept of time, discipline, team work, cooperation and competition. Through the means of reward and punishment the desired behavior pattern is reinforced.

Educational institution is a very important socializer and the means by which individual acquires social norms and values (values of achievement, civic ideals, solidarity and group loyalty etc) beyond those which are available for learning in the family and other groups.

Educational institutions try to impress upon children the importance of working for rewards, and they try to teach neatness, punctuality, orderliness, and respect for authority. Teachers are called upon to evaluate how well children perform a particular task or how much skill they have. Thus, in school, children’s relationships with adults move from nurture and behavioral concerns to performance of tasks and skills determined by others.

Mass Media:

The mass media are the means for delivering impersonal communications directed to a vast audience. The term media comes from Latin meaning, “middle,” suggesting that the media’s function is to connect people.

The mass media include many forms of communication–such as books, magazines, radio, television, and movies–that reach large numbers of people without personal contact between senders and receivers. Since mass media has enormous effects on our attitudes and behavior, notably in regards to aggression, it is an important contributor to the socialization process.

The mass media of communication, particularly television, play an important role in the process of socialization. The mass media of communication transmit information’s and messages which influence the personality of an individual to a great extent. In the last few decades, children have been dramatically socialized by one source in particular: television. Studies have found that children spend more time watching TV than they spend in school.

Reports may vary, but children in the fifth to eighth grades view an average of 4 to 6 hours daily .Most of the research on the effects of television has been on the cognitive and behavioral results of TV watching. The topic most often studied has been the influence of television on antisocial behavior, especially violence. Current research supports the view that seeing violence on television increases the chance that a child will be aggressive. Publicly available studies unambiguously relate changes in behavior (such as food habits or drug use) to exposure to television advertising.

Research also suggests that young children obtain considerable political and social information from television.

Winn (1977) suggests that the experience of watching television itself is limiting. When people watch television, no matter what the program, they are simply watchers and are not having any other experience. According to Winn, and many agree, children need to develop family relationships, the capacity for self-direction, and the basic skills of communication (reading, writing, and speaking); to discover their own strengths and limitations, and to learn the rules that keep social interaction alive. Television works against all these goals by putting children in a passive situation where they do not speak, interact, experiment, explore, or do anything else active because they are watching a small moving picture on a machine. This research shows the growing importance of television as a medium of socialization, although clearly it is only one among a number of important influences.

In addition to this, communication media has an important effect in encouraging individuals to support the existing norms and values or oppose or change them. They are the instrument of social power. They influence us with their messages. The words are always written by someone and these people too – authors and editors and advertisers – join the teachers, the peers and the parents in the socialization process.

Legal system:

The state is an authoritarian agency. It makes laws for the people and lays down the modes of conduct expected of them. The people have compulsorily to obey these laws. If they fail to adjust their behavior in accordance with the laws of the state, they may be punished for such failure. Thus the state also molds our behavior.

Children are pressured from both parents and peers to conform and obey certain laws or norms of the group/community. Parents’ attitudes toward legal systems influence children’s views as to what is legally acceptable.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.