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Sociology Textbook
Ch. 4 Section 1 (Part 1):
The Role of Socialization
Key Points
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 belief that killing is immoral is an American norm, learned through
socialization. As children grow up, they are exposed to social cues that
foster this norm, and they begin to form a conscience composed of this and
other norms.
Textbook Content
The role of socialization is to acquaint individuals with the norms of a social
group or society. Socialization prepares future members to participate in a
group by teaching them the expectations held by other group members.
Socialization is an important process for children, who are socialized at
home and in school (Figure 1). For children, the process teaches what will be
expected of them as they grow up and become full members of society. It is
also important for adults who join new social groups. Broadly defined,
socialization is the process of transferring norms, values, beliefs, and
behaviors to future group members.
Three Goals of Socialization
In his 1995 paper, “Broad and Narrow Socialization: The Family in the
Context of a Cultural Theory,” sociologist Jeffrey J. Arnett outlined his
interpretation of the three primary goals of socialization. First, socialization
teaches impulse control and helps individuals develop a conscience. This first
goal is accomplished naturally: as people grow up within a particular society,
they pick up on the expectations of those around them and internalize these
expectations to moderate their impulses and develop a conscience. Second,
socialization teaches individuals how to prepare for and perform certain
social roles—occupational roles, gender roles, and the roles of institutions
such as marriage and parenthood. Third, socialization cultivates shared
sources of meaning and value. Through socialization, people learn to identify
what is important and valued within a particular culture.
The term "socialization" refers to a general process, but socialization always
takes place in specific contexts. Socialization is culturally specific: people in
different cultures are socialized differently, to hold different beliefs and
values, and to behave in different ways. Sociologists try to understand
socialization, but they do not rank different schemes of socialization as good
or bad; they study practices of socialization to determine why people behave
the way that they do.
1. context: The surroundings, circumstances, environment, background, or
settings that determine, specify, or clarify the meaning of an event or other
2. culture: The beliefs, values, behavior, and material objects that constitute a
people's way of life
3. family: A group of people related by blood, marriage, law or custom
4. gender: The socio-cultural phenomenon of the division of people into various
categories such as male and female, with each having associated roles,
expectations, stereotypes, etc
5. gender roles: Sets of social and behavioral norms that are generally
considered appropriate for either a man or a woman in a social or
interpersonal relationship
6. goal: A desired result that one works to achieve
7. group: A number of things or persons being in some relation to one another
8. internalize: To make something internal; to incorporate it in oneself
9. marriage: The union of two (or sometimes more) people, usually to the
exclusion of all others
10. social group: A collection of humans or animals that share certain
characteristics, interact with one another, accept expectations and
obligations as members of the group, and share a common identity.
11. socialization: The process of learning one’s culture and how to live within it
12. Social Roles: One’s position and responsibilities in society, which are largely
determined in modern developed nations by occupation and family position
13. society: a long-standing group of people sharing cultural aspects such as
language, dress, norms of behavior and artistic forms
14. value: The degree of importance given to something
15. values: A collection of guiding principles; what one deems to be correct and
desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct.