Socialization is a sociological concept referring to the process of providing an individual with the vital skills, norms, and values for participating in their own society.

Methods of socialization can be categorized into two general types: Primary socialization and secondary socialization. The idea is theorized by Talcott Parsons (1937,1951,1955,1959)

Primary socialization

Family is considered as the most important agency of primary socialisation in which children primarily learn through identification with significant others (parents). Within the family, children learn language and basic behavioural patterns which form the foundation for later learning.

Functionalists believe primary socialization particularly important for it is a crucial stage for children to learn about segregated gender roles.

Secondary socialization

Later in childhood and into maturity, secondary socialization takes place through a process of interaction during which individuals are actively engaged (Stanley&Wise, 2002). Agencies of socialization at this stage include education, mass media, religion, etc.

Parsons (1961) considered school as a focal socialising agency as it acts as a bridge between the family and the society as it 'emancipates children from primary attachment' and allows them to 'internalise a level of society's values and norms that is a step high than those learnt within family' through interactions with strangers.

It is especially important to note that education involves two kinds of curricula: formal curriculum and hidden curriculum (Jackson, 1968)

Gender-role socialisation

Oakley (1974) argues that there are distinct gender roles for men and women that derive from culture rather than from biology. Although gender roles may vary from society to society, it is ubiquitous that men have dominance over women. From a feminist perspective, socialisation is the process in which different gender roles are learned and patriarchy is reinforced.

Social sanctions

Social sanctions are used to socialize individuals; they either encourage or discourage an individual from acting in a specific way in order to mould their behaviour.

Positive and negative sanctions:

Positive sanctions encourage behaviour, e.g. a teacher's verbal reward for well-performing students.

Negative sanctions discourage behaviour, e.g. parents spanking naughty children.

Formal and informal sanctions:

Informal sanctions control individuals through informal agreements, e.g. ridicule for straying away from customs.

Formal sanctions control individuals through written rules, e.g. law enforcement.

You can find further information on Haralambos p756; Giddens p339

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