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Soc 101

What is Socialization Process and social agents are?


Socialization is a twofold process that the way in which a society, culture, or group teaches individuals to become functioning members and the way in which individuals learn and internalize the values and norms of the group.

As part of one’s socialization they are directly and indirectly influenced by many individuals including family members, peers, authority figures, etc. Similarly, one’s socialization is also influenced by social, cultural, educational, and financial institutions including school, religious entities, media, workplace, and the government.

Although individual socialization is often a focus of micro-level sociology, and therefore examined from the interactionist perspectives, functionalists and conflict theorists have also analyzed the various agents of socialization in terms of the role they play in influencing members of society. Select the buttons below to learn more.


Functionalist: Family helps socialization, beginning at the birth of an individual. Babies begin to be socialized by learning through the comfort and care that adults give them, starting at their birth. Young children begin to learn right from wrong (based on family values) and an expectation of what it means to be a male or female.

Conflict: Society’s different treatment of males and females may be seen as an outgrowth of the family’s difference in socialization of male and female children.


Functionalist: Children are taught about patriotism (singing the national anthem), values of society, and also about competition at school. This helps to produce future responsible citizens, and in turn, a stable society.

Conflict: Schools reinforce the divisions of society. For example, more children from families of the lower socioeconomic class are placed in special education and more children from the middle class and upper class are found in accelerated and college prep courses.

Peer Group

Functionalist: Peer group or friends teach social behavior among teenagers. They undergo both mental and anatomical changes at this juncture of life and become less dependent on their family and more dependent on their friends.

Conflict: Especially during adolescence, individuals strive for autonomy and independence. They tend to embrace their peers more and pull away from family values, thereby creating a gulf between youth and adults.

Mass Media and Technology

Functionalist: Technology influences face-to-face social skill development and provides opportunities for developing contacts and friends throughout the world.

Conflict: Mass Media and Technology portray both positive and negative behaviors as models. The “digital divide” allows for broad exposure of some children to these models events, and places but prevents the same exposure to other children who lack access to the latest technology.


Functionalist: Workplace teaches one to conform to the occupational environment and appropriate behavior. An employee also learns about teamwork and further skill development.

Conflict: The workplace often fuels competition among workers for promotion and power in the corporate world.

Religion and State

Functionalist: Religion and State teach and incorporate rites of passage. They also function in caregiving roles, which pave the way for a caring and understanding community and society as a whole.

Conflict: Differences arise due to varied customs, rules, and rites that exist in various religions of the world.


Definition of Terms


Nature vs Nurture Debate – the ongoing discussion of the respective roles of genetics and socialization in determining individual behaviors and traits (page 99)

Sociobiology – a branch of science that uses biological and evolutionary explanations for social behavior (page 100)

Socialization – the process of learning and internalizing the values, beliefs, and norms of our social group, by which we become functioning members of society (page 99)

Feral children – in myths and rare real-world cases, children who have had little human contact and may have lived in social isolation from a young age (page 101)

Self – the individual’s conscious, reflexive experience of a personal identity separate and distinct from others (page 102)

Id, ego, superego – according to Freud, the three interrelated parts that make up the mind: the id consists of basic inborn drives that are the source of instinctive psychic energy; the ego is the realistic aspect of the mind that balances the forces of the id and the superego; the superego has two components (the conscience and the ego-ideal) and represents the internalized demands of society (page 103)

Looking-glass self – the notion that the self develops through our perception of others’ evaluations and appraisals of us (page 104)

Psychosexual stages of development – four distinct stages of the development of the self between birth and adulthood, according to Freud; personality quirks are a result of being fixated, or stuck, at any stage (page 103)

Preparatory stage – the first stage in Mead’s theory of the development of self wherein children mimic or imitate others (page 105)

Play stage – the second stage in Mead’s theory of the development of self wherein children pretend to play the role of the particular or significant other (page 105)

Particular or significant other – the perspectives and expectations of a particular role that a child learns and internalizes (page 105)

Game stage – the third stage in Mead’s theory of the development of self wherein children play organized games and take on the perspective of the generalized other (page 105

Generalized other – the perspectives and expectations of a network of others (or of society in general) that a child learns and then takes into account when shaping his or her own behavior (page 105)

Dual Nature of the Self – the idea that we experience the self as both subject and object, the “I” and the “me” (page 105)

Thomas Theorem  – classic formulation of the way individuals determine reality, whereby “if people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” (page 106)

Definition of the situation – an agreement with others about “what is going on” in a given circumstance; this consensus allows us to coordinate our actions with others and realize goals (page 106)

Expressions of behavior – small actions such as an eye roll or head nod that serve as an interactional tool to help project our definition of the situation to others (page 106)

Expressions given – expressions that are intentional and usually verbal, such as utterances (page 106)

Expressions given off – observable expressions that can be either intended or unintended and are usually nonverbal (page 107)

Impression Management – the effort to control the impressions we make on others so that they form a desired view of us and the situation; the use of self-presentation and performance tactics (page 107)

Dramaturgy – an approach pioneered by Erving Goffman in which social life is analyzed in terms of its similarities to theatrical performance (page 107)

Front – in the dramaturgical perspective, the setting or scene of performances that helps establish the definition of the situation (page 107)

Region – the context in which the performance takes place, including location, decor, and props (page 107)

Personal Front – the performance tactics we use to present ourselves to others, including appearance, costume, and manner (page 107)

Backstage – the places where we rehearse and prepare for our performances (page 107)

Frontstage – the places where we deliver our performances to an audience of others (page 107)

Social construction – the process by which a concept or practice is created and maintained by participants who collectively agree that it exists (page 108)

Cooling the mark out – behaviors that help others to save face or avoid embarrassment, often referred to as civility or tact (page 108)

Agents of socialization – social groups, institutions, and individuals (especially the family, schools, peers, and the mass media) that provide structured situations in which socialization takes place (page 109)

Hidden curriculum – values or behaviors that students learn indirectly over the course of their schooling (page 110)

Resocialization – the process of replacing previously learned norms and values with new ones as a part of a transition in life (page 113)

Total Institutions – institutions in which individuals are cut off from the rest of society so that they can be controlled and regulated for the purpose of systematically stripping away previous roles and identities in order to create new ones (page 113)

Status – a position in a social hierarchy that carries a particular set of expectations (page 115)

Ascribed Status – a status that is inborn; usually difficult or impossible to change (page 115)

Embodied Status – a status generated by physical characteristics (page 115)

Achieved Status – a status earned through individual effort or imposed by others (page 115)

Master Status – a status that is always relevant and affects all other statuses we possess (page 115)

Stereotyping – judging others based on preconceived generalizations about groups or categories of people (page 115)

Role – the set of behaviors expected of someone because of his or her status (page 115)

Role conflict – experienced when we occupy two or more roles with contradictory expectations (page 115)

Role Strain – experienced when there are contradictory expectations within one role (page 115)

Role Exit – the process of leaving a role that we will no longer occupy (page 116)

Role-Taking Emotions – emotions such as sympathy, embarrassment, or shame that require that we assume the perspective of another person or group and respond accordingly (page 116)

Feeling Rules – norms regarding the expression and display of emotions; expectations about the acceptable or desirable feelings in a given situation (page 116)

Emotion Work (Emotion Labor )  = the process of evoking, suppressing, or otherwise managing feelings to create a publicly observable display of emotion (page 116)

Copresence – face-to-face interaction or being in the presence of others (page 116)

Saturated self – a postmodern idea that the self is now developed by multiple influences chosen from a wide range of media sources (page 119)

Agency – the ability of the individual to act freely and independently (page 119)


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