Newborn homo sapiens are biological individuals with a tendency to evolve into social beings, or “humans.” As they get older, infants gain the ability to recognise and make use of the symbols and ornaments made by earlier generations. Being human involves developing appropriate social skills, forming close relationships, joining organisations, showing loyalty to numerous strangers, and internalising the norms, values, roles, and behavioural patterns of the society to which one is born. Another aspect of being human is how the “self” or personality develops. According to the dictionary, personality is “a set of relatively stable and distinctive ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that reflect a person’s adaptations to their environment.” Socialisation is the process of gaining these characteristics and so becoming human.
The socialisation process is influenced by society in a variety of ways. In terms of physical development, abilities, emotional expression, intellectually meaningful interests, and the structuring of their relationships with significant others, socialised individuals are expected to meet criteria set by society. Parents’ efforts to socialise their children are influenced by their understanding of these social expectations as well as their ideal image of what a successful adult a child should develop into. Additionally, parents are influenced by their ideas of what constitutes “excellent parenting,” and the majority of them invest a lot of time and energy into upholding this standard.
In modern civilizations, institutions have been created because cultural traits are now too numerous and complex to be passed down alone through the family. The primary institutions in our society are the home, the church, the educational system, the government, and the economic system, and each is responsible for imparting a particular set of cultural norms and values. Any deviation from these intended standards or principles is typically met with severe penalties. The mere distribution of sanctions is a statement of society’s will and creates a standard that will have an impact on people whether or not they receive the institution’s rewards or punishments.
The complex process of social learning through assimilation of prior experiences is known as socialisation. An human interacts with their surroundings as part of an interactive communication process, and it is on the basis of this interaction that the individual forms social and personal influences. A person becomes a social being through the process of socialisation. As a result, an individual needs community or civilization because living alone would be “unimaginable, and beyond human collective.”
“The content of socialisation has sociological, cultural, and sociological significance (social role-playing and formation of proper behaviours) in addition to psychological significance (the maturation of the young person). The socialisation process depends on a number of factors, including:
- Personal traits (age, gender, level of maturity, growth, intelligence)
- Transmission techniques and forms (language, restraints, rituals, parenting techniques, social integration, forms of imitation, identification, replacement, restraint, or reinforcement);
- Structures of attitudes, values, actions and behaviours (roles and social status, morality of social connections, ethics of work, political-civic orientation, performance, altruism, integration, conformation, etc.)”
The normative and interpretive views are the two main ones provided by socialisation theory. In contrast to the interpretative perspective, which places power inside individuals, the normative approach places power within societal systems. According to the third perception, both society and the individual are strong and have a great amount of power to affect change. The socialisation process lasts a lifetime, and ‘transformation, ‘reflexivity,’ and ‘negotiation’ frequently alter reality. Individuals draw on their internalised conception of the “generalised other,” their “stock of knowledge,” their “taken for granted assumptions,” the opinions of those to whom they are accountable, their past experiences, and their expectations for their future course of action while constructing an emergent reality.
AGENTS OF SOCIALISATION
It is impossible to socialise someone in a hoover. The social context in which socialisation takes place is influenced by individuals, groups, and institutions. Through these organisations, we acquire and assimilate the values and customs of our culture. They also took into account the social circumstances of our gender, ethnicity, and class. By acquiring habits, abilities, beliefs, and a standard of judging through socialisation, we can develop into useful members of a society.
On the other hand, the definition of “functional” is influenced by the broader sociocultural context. According to Bourdieu (1990), individual socialisation is a process in which people are affected by the class and cultural milieu of their upbringing. The many agencies can be divided into official and informal, active and passive, primary and secondary. However, there is no clear boundary because they are all so entwined.
Our thoughts and perspectives on our community, our nation, and the world at large are greatly influenced by the agents of socialisation. These agents also help to create our standards and ideals surrounding acceptable behaviour and how we interact with others. The influence each agent has on a person varies according to that person’s personality, experiences, and life stage.
The two main stages of socialisation are primary childhood socialisation and secondary adult socialisation. The most important stage of socialisation is primary because it establishes the foundational identities, perspectives, and resources for secondary socialisation. The fundamental socialisation process is controlled by close relationships.
Parents, grandparents, and siblings are examples of significant persons who shape a child’s life, personality, and orientation by exposing them to particular experiences, beliefs, and roles and minimising their exposure to negative influences. Television, peer interactions, and the public education system are all additional important socialisation agents or causes.
One key difference between primary and secondary socialisation is that children during primary socialisation (birth through age twelve) form images of the roles and attitudes of significant others, and they may even play at some of those roles, whereas individuals acquire role-specific knowledge and vocabularies during secondary socialisation that are actually rooted in social institutions. Secondary socialisation involves greater self-initiated role playing, whereas primary socialisation primarily involves observational learning, simple kinds of role playing (such as games and play), and social reinforcements.
Agents of socialisation use social reinforcement to make sure that kids exhibit desired social behaviours (whether instrumental or learnt). Social reinforcements are activities taken by one person to support, alter, or prevent the behaviour of another person[xxiv]. Because toddlers rarely exhibit desirable behaviours perfectly on the first few tries, social reinforcement is essential. Social reinforcements therefore assist in educating and directing kids towards a desirable performance.
Social reinforcements play a crucial role in both motivating kids to carry out previously taught behaviours and preventing the performance of unwanted behaviours. Social reinforcements can be explained in very general terms by saying that behaviours that are positively reinforced are likely to be repeated, whereas behaviours that are negatively reinforced are likely to be inhibited or abandoned.
- First, in order to get outcomes, both rewards and penalties are required. Children learn what they can do as well as what they cannot do when both rewards and punishments are used. However, it appears that learning increases when the scales are pushed in favour of rewards or encouraging reinforcements.
- Second, it is more effective to give incentives or penalties right away after the desired reaction has been formed or blocked. When there are lengthy delays, it can be problematic for kids because they might correlate positive reinforcement with other responses that were given during the delay that had nothing to do with desired or undesirable actions. The nature of desirable or deviant activities might be symbolically reinstated (via verbal means) and then reinforced as a way to address this issue.
- Third, consistent reinforcement is more effective than inconsistent reinforcement. Children find it challenging to establish links between behaviour and rewards when reinforcements are inconsistent.
- Fourth, children need to feel a positive, loving bond to the reinforcing agent in order for reinforcements to have any impact. Because such a high value is placed on the nurturant agent’s behaviour, it appears that a nurturant punitive agent causes children more anxiety than a neutral agent, especially when it comes to punishment.
- Fifth, punishment must be applied in conjunction with justification for it to be particularly effective. Children must be given alternative behaviours that will result in rewards rather than penalties in addition to explanations of the reasons for the punishment.
- Sixth, internalization- the process by which children fully absorb societal norms and roles without external reinforcement- cannot be fully achieved by solely relying on harsh verbal or physical punishment. The withdrawal of affection by nurturing agents appears to be the most effective way to promote the adoption of norms and roles.
Withdrawal of affection can take the shape of coldness, rejection, ignoring or excluding children, among other forms of discipline. An agreement to act appropriately is a requirement for restoring attachment. According to popular belief, the reason why withdrawal of affection is so potent is that when punishment becomes too harsh or abusive, anxiety levels soar to the point where it becomes impossible for feelings of anxiety to exist independently of the external punishment. The penalty then becomes the main subject of conversation. Children are instead taught to focus on their behaviour and to come to their own conclusions about appropriate ways to cope with feelings of worry, shame, or guilt by eliminating rewarding stimuli.
While biological and cognitive factors may have an impact on personality development, society interferes with the process by creating moral standards, prescribing appropriate social behaviours, defining acceptable forms of interaction, and defining the numerous roles necessary for society to function. It has been shown that key socialisation techniques include role playing, observational learning, and social reinforcement. The primary socialisation process involves the family, schools, peers, and television.