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Socialization is the process through which people are taught how to interact and communicate with others. Moreover, It is a process that is learned in order to reflect upon our own behavior. It is a way to understand what is considered to be appropriate and what is deemed to be right and what is considered to be wrong based on the society which we live in. As we are born, we do not have a culture but as we age, there are many factors that will contribute to who we become, such as our family, our friends, media, religion, values and so on. Throughout this essay, I will analyze the process of my socialization using 6 concepts that include values, norms, sanctions, social class, religion and gender. Finally, I will be explaining Erving Goffman’s theory of dramaturgy.
Values are the cultural standards by which we determine what is good or bad, right or wrong (Carl & Belanger, 2015, p.53). Throughout life, we are constantly taught on what is right and what is wrong. More importantly, we learn what are the differences between a good action and a bad one. Through values, we can better understand what is important to us. As said previously, we are born without culture, without the notion of values. So, a child has less knowledge on the fundamental basis of values than an adult. As an example, a child that has stolen an item from a store doesn’t necessarily know that his action is deemed to be bad as he has not been apprised yet. Throughout my life, my parents have done all they can to make me aware of every decision I make and the kind of impact it could have on me, my surroundings and/or my society. Since a young age, my parents have always taught me that cruelty is wrong. Being indifferent to causing pain to others is severely wrong. For example, when I was younger, I would be cruel to my younger brother by commanding him to execute an action, even if he refused to. Being the older sister, I took advantage of my superiority. However, my parents quickly took on what was happening and punished me for being so cruel to my younger brother. By punishing me, they taught me that being cruel is wrong and can be a danger to all.
Norms are the culturally defined rules for appropriate social behavior (Carl & Belanger, 2015, p.54). There are many ways that norms can be present in our lives. A norm that is widely taught by parents, and that was taught to me by my parents are the rules of courtesy, for example, greeting a person. When I was growing up, my parents always taught me thank someone that has helped me in any way, to say “please” when asking something, and so on. These social norms help you to become an accepted member of society.
Sanction is a reward for following a norm or a punishment for violating it (Carl & Belanger, 2015, p.54). As for most people, school is an important aspect of my life. Through school, we are taught that succeeding is important. As our school system is based on grades, such as passing or failing, we are taught that failing is a punishment for not achieving what was deemed to be acceptable. For example, when I failed my 1st year of cegep, I was informally punished by my parents for failing, I was grounded for weeks and could not hang out with my friends on the weekend. But more on, I was also negatively sanctioned by my school as I had to retake my year.
Social Class is a group of people of similar status, commonly sharing comparable levels of power and wealth.1 In consideration of what social class someone belongs to, their life structure will differ. Your social class is a group of people that you can relate to, that you have similar experiences. Growing up in a good social class, my life has been quite easy for me, I went to school from an early age and learned many subjects throughout my school years. Moreover, I always had the three main aspects of the hierarchy of needs, which are physiological needs, safety needs, and belongingness needs. I’ve always had a bed to come to, food to eat and a family to come home to. Thanks to my social class, I have been taught on how to act morally.
Religious socialization is an interactive process through which social agents influence individuals’ religious beliefs and understandings.2 Coming from a religious family, I was taught from a young age on how to act according to my religion. I was taught on what is deemed to be good and what is deemed to be wrong. As an example, in my religion, it is wrong for a girl to be sexually active without being married. This is a concept that my family has taught from a very young age, it is very important to my religion and has impacted my life in a significant way. However, as I live in Canada, the religion here is very different from mine, which gave me a second religious socialization as I relate to it more than my primary religion.
Gender socialization refers to the learning of behavior and attitudes considered appropriate for a given sex3. In the society we live in, gender equality has never been achieved. Based on your gender, you are expected to act a certain way. Being a girl, I was always told that men are greater than women, which has a great impact on my life. Men are perceived as powerful while women are perceived to be caring. Throughout my teenage life, I always constantly taught to be afraid of what men could be capable to do. Around the world, women are being raped, used, beaten by men due to the fake perception than men should always be greater than women. A strong memory I have of this is the first time I was told to be more feminine, to stop swearing because it looks ugly on the mouth of a girl, to dress appropriately and to not show too much skin. All of these factors have a big impact on how I came to be.
Erving Goffman is a Canadian sociologist that developed a theory called dramaturgy. Dramaturgy argues that the element of interactions depends on time, place, and audience. Through his theory, he compared life to acting, as he believed that we are directors to our interactions as we act them as an actor would. In dramaturgy, there are three steps: the Front Stage, BackStage and Face Saving Work. The Front Stage related to what the audience sees, what you want them to see. The BackStage is the aspect that includes our true feelings and belief and finally the Face Saving Work is a reaction to an embarrassment in the form of humor, anger or retreat. According to Goffman, the main goal of dramaturgy is the acceptance from the audience through calculated performances (Carl & Belanger, 2015, p.71).
Through life, a person will always want to be accepted. Indeed, it is important for one to feel like they belong, to feel like they are both wanted and needed. In order to achieve a good social life, it is important to be able to adapt to our surroundings. In the light of social media, we are constantly searching for assurance and acceptance. In a way, we are constantly searching for other people’s approval. Dramaturgy relates to our everyday’s life in the way that we are subconsciously seeking for approval and in order to attain it, we will act in a different way than we actually are. Throughout my life, it has always been important for me to be accepted in my society. Whether it is by my parents, my friends or my teachers, I have always been a pleaser. For example, I wouldn’t act the same at a bar than I would do in class, or I wouldn’t act the same with my friends than I do with my parents, I choose how people perceive me according to the time, my surroundings and the place. Dramaturgy relates to most of the concepts of socialization as we put on an act according to who we are with. Through the many socialization concepts that have shaped me into who I am, I can decide on who I want to be, what I want to show. Moreover, I will be able to choose what socialization concept I deem to be the most beneficial to me according to the type of interaction.
To conclude, the process of my socialization was majorly impacted by values, norms, sanctions, social class, religious socialization, gender socialization and through Goffman’s theory of Dramaturgy. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize the importance that these socialization concepts have on my life. As I age, my socialization will keep on growing and I will achieve a better understanding of human interactions. These social concepts shape who you are as a person, giving you a clearer vision of your own self.
While writing this paper, I have gained a better knowledge on socialization and what makes human interactions so complex. I have also learned the importance of socialization as it creates human interactions and communication. Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Nonetheless, it is important to accentuate the significance that interactions and communication have on our society as they are the basis of how individuals understand each other.
Carl, D.J., & Belanger, M. (2015). Think: Sociology Second Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson.
- Social Class. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.chegg.com/homework-help/definitions/social-class-49.
- Sherkat, D. E. (2012, June). Religious Socialization (Chapter 12) – Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/handbook-of-the-sociology-of-religion/religious-socialization/015E3C47D5548A69A25155F242506D3D.
- Libretexts. (2019, October 7). 4.3A: Theories of Socialization. Retrieved from https://socialsci.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Sociology/Book:_Sociology_(Boundless)/4:_The_Role_of_Socialization/4.3:_Theories_of_Socialization/4.3A:_Theories_of_Socialization.
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