For the beginner, there may be a tendency to confuse socialization with other processes of change. It is essential, therefore, to emphasize that there is a difference between them. Two aspects of socialization distinguish it from those other processes of change. First, socialization refers only to the changes in behaviour and attitude having their origins in interactions with other persons. Secondly, socialization includes only those which occur through learning. Other changes, such as those resulting from physical growth, are not part of the socialization process. Other illustrations of socialization include learning the folksways and customs of one’s society and regional groups and the religious beliefs and moral values of one’s society and family.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- give a detailed description of socialization
- describe the agents of socialization.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 What is Socialization?
Socialization into society involves being socialised into various sub-groups within the society (e.g. the family, school, peer group association, work place, etc). Being looked at from the perspective of the individual being socialised, the function of socialization is to secure entrance into and acceptance by his society and its sub- groups. But as a matter of life, looking at it from the societal perspective, socialization is the process by which different individuals are prepared to play many different and varied roles and interact in such a way that the interrelated individuals and groups can function as a whole -as a society.
This is not to imply that those undergoing socialisation experiences consciously tell themselves that they are doing what they are doing for the reason enumerated. Whatever the intended immediate results may be, the overall result is to make those involved sufficiently alike so that they can function as interacting members of a group, and sufficiently different so that the various behaviour pattern’s needed to maintain the society are produced.
By definition, socialisation is an interactional process in which an individual’s behaviour and attitude are modified to conform with the members’ expectation of the groups to which he or she belongs.
SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1
What is your understanding of Socialisation?
3.2 Agents of Socialization
The following are agents of socialisation:
- Peer and own preferences
- Television and Mass Media
This is one of the agents of socialization. Parents are the most important socializing agents for the child at the very early stages of his development. Parents and the child’s siblings form the only significant group on whom the child depends physically and psychologically. In reality, parents and siblings of the child under socialization are usually referred to as significant others, on whom the child can observe, imitate and identify with. In actual fact, the value, attitudes, the norms, folks ways and beliefs of a society are learned by the child from his interaction with his parents and siblings.
Peer and Own Preferences
This is another important agent of socialization for a child. As the child matures, he begins to interact with his friends (i.e. friends in the neighbourhood, church/mosque and other important places). The child begins to learn new things which he might not have learnt from his parents and siblings. A lot of things (good or bad) are learned from these interactions. Can you remember what your peer group taught you while you were maturing from childhood to adulthood? Just have a flashback, you will definitely remember what you were taught by your peer group members.
Television and Mass Media
It is a fact that television and other mass media such as radio, print advertisement, films, etc. do go a long way to socialize children. As a matter of fact, the increasing industrialization and urbanisation have greatly influenced the impact of television and mass media on child’s socialization; for example, in Nigeria today, newspapers, magazines and other printed materials have increased tremendously just as radio and television have. These have become important media through which certain types of socialization take place.
As the child grows older and mature, the family role alone becomes inadequate for the socialisation of the individual. Therefore, it becomes more and more necessary for professionally trained personnel (such as teachers) to be involved in the socialisation process of the individuals.
The role of schools in the socialisation process is now becoming more and more prominent and recognised. As you can observe these days in Nigeria, children are sent to school much earlier, particularly with the introduction of day care centres where children, even six weeks old are sent while their mothers are at work. Not only this, nowadays in Nigeria, there improved educational opportunities opened to individuals for adequate training.
SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 2
Explain the agents of socialisation.
You can now bear with me that socialisation is inevitable in our daily lives. There is no how an individual will not pass through these stages of socialisation in one way or the other. We want to assure that the symbols and their associated definitions which are normally included in the culture of the group or society usually form the major part of what is learned in the process of socialisation. Through socialisation, the individual learns language(s) and other communication symbols. Such
an individual learns how to interpret or label objects, other people with whom he interacts, himself, and the situation. It is good to conclude that throughout an individual’s life, the individual continues to learn to take on behaviour appropriate to the expectations associated with whatever new positions he occupies (e.g. as an infant, a toddler, a boy, a youth, an adolescent, a middle-age man or an adult, a student or a worker, etc.
We have to described fully what is meant by socialisation. Efforts have also been made to explain the agents of socialisation. Now, better understanding of the concept of socialisation and its agents should have been developed. Therefore, you should now know that socialisation is a life-long and an uneven process with many advisors (e.g. parents, schools, media, etc).
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
- What do you understand by the term “Socialisation”?
- What are the agents of Socialisation?