Socialization is important to individuals and the societies that they live in; it helps to illustrate how human beings are entwined with their social realms. A society is only able to preserve itself by teaching principles to its new members; if values are not taught to new age group then the society will cease to exist. There have been debates about nature versus nurture that ranges over whether a person’s experiences are more important in shaping physical and interactive personalities.
In this case nature is regarded as the hormone founded behaviors, traits and viewpoints while nurture refers to the setting, values and involvements. The modern debate is often aligned on the effects that genetic factors have on human personality as opposed to the effects that early setting and growth might have (Rutter, 2006). Current debates on this issue have been shifting with cultural changes; the theories of behaviourism alleged that human nature is majorly swayed by training and involvement. This debate has changed in recent years through the studies of identical twins separated during birth, that indicate that genetics have a vital role in the development of human behaviour (Rutter, 2006). Even though genes help in defining one’s personality, the society in which one is brought up in affects their social interaction skills. Individual that are brought in well up families tend to be more self-confident, ready to confront systems that are unfair to them and always confident to explain themselves in all situations thus the high capacity for the success in life (Rutter, 2006). On the other hand, children from low income families lack self-confidence and are less likely to question authorities and system that are unfair to them. They lack the confidence to speak up and explain their situations and this affects their capacity to succeed in life (Rutter, 2006).
Theoretical perspectives that help to understand Socialization
There are three primary theoretical perspectives that sociologists employ to help explain socialization. The first one is symbolic interactionist perspective that looks into symbols and facts in normal life, their implications and the manner in which people interact with one another (Lawler, 2008). People attribute meanings to symbols, where they then act according to their subjective clarifications of the symbols. The institution of marriage in American society has symbols such as: the wedding bands, flowers, vows, the white bridal dress and the cake (Lawler, 2008). For some, they symbolize the eternal love and others may look at them as fiscal costs. This perspective has been criticized for missing the large issues in the society and focusing on the minor issue.
The second perspective is the functionalist perspective that illustrate that each aspect of the society is co-dependent and it adds to the running of the society as a whole (Lawler, 2008). A good illustration of this is where the state provides education for the family’s children which in-turn pays taxes that the state needs to run. The family hence depends on the school to augment their children’s growth in-order for them to get jobs that can help them sustain their own families as help pay taxes (Lawler, 2008). The society is held together by social consistency, whereby members of the society work together to sustain the society. Functionalist has been criticized for neglecting the role of encouraging people to change their social environment even when it is for their own benefit.
The third perspective is conflict, which defers from the others because it focuses on negative disputed nature of the society that is ever changing. Conflict perspective argues that the affluent and influential, force social order on those that are weak and poor (Lawler, 2008). A conflict theorist will for instance interpret a decision to raise tuition to pay for a new program to help raise the status of a local college as a selfish decision rather than looking at it as a benefit for the students. Conflict theorists find social conflicts between any groups that have possible disparities for instance racial, religious, gender and economic among many others (Lawler, 2008). They argue that unequal groups always have contradictory standards and agendas, that push them to contest against one another. Conflict perspective has been criticized for its negative view on the society.
Agents of Socialization
An individual’s self-concept, values and behaviour are always shaped by various agents of socialization including; family, peers and media among others. Family for instance serves to replicate the society organically through reproduction and communally through the socialization of children (Brinkerhoff, 2008). Marriages help to establish formation of families with or without the intention of having children; it establishes relationships between the families of the wife and the husband. Marriages establish the joint fund of property all for the benefit of the children and the partners (Brinkerhoff, 2008). There are prohibitions against marriages between family members in most societies, what is known as incest taboo.
Peer groups also have a great influence on socialization, peer groups allow children to escape supervision and give them an opening to form relationships on their own (Brinkerhoff, 2008). Peer groups unlike family only have short term impact on their interests. Peer groups allow children to discuss matters like current music and fashion that the adults do not share; they also permit activities such as sex and drug use (Brinkerhoff, 2008). Peer groups greatly influence the mental and social regulation of an individual; they provide viewpoints outside of individual standpoints.
The fact that mass media has enormous effects on people’s attitudes and behaviour; it contributes greatly to the socialization process. Media bias is one factor that affects socialization an it is widely distributed in the world, it happens in the manner in which the selection of events and stories are reported and covered in order to appeal to various audiences (Brinkerhoff, 2008). What this means is that the stories that affect a large number of people on a universal gage tend to have less coverage than the local stories that the people are more interested in because that is what they relate with. Video gaming is another element that is associated with socialization. Video game violence influences real life violence, it upsurges an individual’s opinions and behaviours (Brinkerhoff, 2008). Children regularly act out the violence that they see in the games and it has serious consequences.
Socialization is important as it familiarizes individuals with the norms of a particular society. It helps prepare individuals to be a part of teams by helping them understand what is expected from them by those teams. Socialization is particularly important for children who begin the socialization process at home after which they proceed to school and later on at work as grownups with various responsibilities. Both nature and nurture contribute greatly to an individual’s socialization growth, the way that one is brought up defines some important traits like confidence.
- Brinkerhoff, D. B. (2008). Essentials of sociology. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
- Lawler, S. (2008). Identity: Sociological perspectives. Cambridge: Polity Press.
- Rutter, M. (2006). Genes and behavior: Nature-nurture interplay explained. Malden, Mass: Blackwell.