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Primary socialization could be more important than secondary socialization as the primary socialization phase is the basic step that an individual takes to enter into society. Socialization has been described as to render social or make someone able to live in society and learn the social norms and customs. Socialization is central to the functioning of any society and is also central to the emergence of modernity.
Socialization tends to serve two major functions of preparing an individual to play and develop roles, habits, beliefs and values and evoke appropriate patterns of emotional, social and physical responses helping to communicate contents of culture and its persistence and continuity (Chinoy, 1961). However social rules and social systems should be integrated with the individual’s own social experiences. However individual social experiences have become much less important in the study of socialization as the focus is now on identifying functions of institutions and systems in socialization and cultural changes.
Socialization is especially true in family and education and has been seen in many family forms and differences in gender roles, in cultural diversity and in occupational standards. However it is important to note the relationship between ethics, norms, values, roles in socialization. Socialization is the means through which social and cultural continuity is attained however socialization itself may not lead to desirable consequences although it is a process and meant to have an impact on all aspects of society and the individual (Chinoy, 1961). Socialization provides partial explanation for the human condition as also the beliefs and behaviour of society although the role of environment may also be significant in any process of socialization (Johnson, 1961).
Both socialization and biology could have an impact on how people are shaped by the environment and their genes and behavioural outcomes are also significantly different as the capacity for learning changes throughout a lifetime.
Socialization could have many agents such as the family, friends and school, religious institutions and peer groups as also the mass media and work place colleagues. The family establishes basic attitudes whereas schools build ethics and values, religious institutions affect our belief systems and peer groups help in sharing social traits. Socialization is usually seen as a life process and a continued interaction will all agents of society in a manner that is most beneficial to individuals.
Socialization could be primary which occurs in a child as the child learns attitudes, values, actions as members of particular societies and cultures. If a child experiences racist attitudes in the family, this could have an effect on the child’s attitudes towards minorities and other races. Primary socialization is the first and basic step towards interactions with the outside world and the family is the first agent in primary socialization as the family introduces a child to the world outside, to its beliefs, customs, norms and helps the child in adapting to the new environment (Clausen, 1968). Secondary socialization happens when a child moves out of family and learn how to behave within a small community or social group and teenagers or adolescents are largely influenced by secondary socialization as they may enter a new school. Entering a new profession is also secondary socialization of adults and whereas primary socialization is more generalized, secondary socialization is adapting to specific environments. Primary socialization happens early in life and is the first socialization in children and adolescents when new attitudes and ideas develop for social interaction. Secondary socialization refers to socialization that takes place through one’s life and can occur in children as well as in older adults as it means adapting to new situations and dealing with new encounters (White, 1977).
There are other types of socialization such as developmental socialization and anticipatory socialization. Developmental socialization is about developing social skills and learning behaviour within a social institution and anticipatory socialization is about understanding and predicting future situations and relationships and developing social responses or skills to these situations. Re-socialization is another process of socialization in which former behavioural patterns are discarded to learn new values and norms. This could be a new gender role if there is a condition of sex change.
Socialization is a fundamental sociological concept and the elements of socialization are generally agreed upon as having specific goals such as impulse control and cultivating new roles, cultivation of meaning sources. Socialization is the process that helps in social functioning and is often considered as culturally relative as people from different cultures socialize differently (White, 1977). Since socialization is an adoption of culture, the process of socialization is different for every culture. Socialization has been described as both a process and an outcome. It has been argued that the core identity of an individual and the basic life beliefs and attitudes develop during primary socialization and the more specific changes through secondary socialization occurs in different structured social situations. Life socialization, especially through social situations as in secondary socialization, the need for later life situations highlights the complexity of society and increase in varied roles and responsibilities.
However there could be several differences between primary and secondary socialization as Mortimer and Simmons (1978) showed how these two types of socialization differ. Content, context and response are the three ways in which the differences between primary and secondary socialization could be explained. In childhood socialization involves regulation of biological drives and impulse control which is later replaced by self image and values in adolescence. In adulthood socialization is more about specific norms and behaviors and relates to work roles and personality traits development.
Context or the environment in socialization is also important as the person who is socialized seeks to learn within the context of family and school or peer groups. Relationships are also emotional and socialization also takes place as an individual takes the adult role. Formal and informal relationships tend to differ according to situational context and in some cases contexts tend to affect the emotional nature of relationships. As far as responding to situations is concerned, children and adolescents could be more easily moulded than adults as adult socialization is more voluntary and adults could manipulate their own responses considerably.
Socialization involves contacts with multiple groups in different contexts and interactions at various levels. Socialization is a social process and in the process of socialization, parents, friends, schools, co workers, family members tend to play a major role (Chinoy, 1961).
However socialization could have its positive or negative impact as seen in broad and narrow socialization process as in broad socialization, individualism, and self expression are important whereas in case of narrow socialization conformity is more important. This differentiation was provided by Arnett (1995) who suggested that socialization could result in both broad and narrow social interaction process as broad socialization helps in expansion and narrow socialization is more about conformity and according to Arnett, socialization could be broad or narrow within the socialization forces of friends, family, school, peer group, co workers etc. Socialization type could vary across cultures as in America for instance there is an increased emphasis on individualism whereas in many Asian countries as in India or Japan socialization could be about conformity to religious or social norms (Arnett, 1995).
However primary socialization could be more significant than secondary socialization as primary socialization is about forming a basic attitude towards people and society and this in turn helps in shaping the identity of individuals as a child. Primary socialization is social learning process in childhood whereas secondary socialization is social learning in adulthood or social learning added to already existing basic learning process so secondary socialization is about added learning and in some cases substitute learning where changes in the socialization process takes place due to new environments such as change of workplace or entering new work environments or new schools (Johnson, 1961).
Primary socialization is more basic as in primary socialization the child learns the very first social responses and develops the first social beliefs and attitudes. Based on primary socialization process, secondary socialization is about using the primary socially learned responses to adapt them to new environments through secondary socialization. Since primary socialization occurs in childhood and in the child’s immediate environment as through home or family, it is more significant and has a greater impact on the child’s attitudes and beliefs as well as social and emotional development. Primary socialization could be said to have a direct impact on the child and shapes the future of the child and how he grows up with certain beliefs as in case of children who see racial hatred in the family is more prone to develop their own hatred towards other races as a result of direct conditioning in the family environment. In fact the young people in later years are peculiarly shaped by what they learnt and experienced in childhood and how they were conditioned to react to situations and people and thus primary socialization is of greater significance in later years than secondary socialization (Clausen, 1968).
Within this context, families and schools are of prime importance and are considered as the first agents that implement the processes of social control. Youth crime and anti social behavior could be explained with the aid of direct primary socialization as what the individual learns at home is of major importance and shapes his later life and could also explain any kind of deviance (Pitts, 2001). Young people enter crime possibly through racial hatred or lack of social inclusion and these attitudes such as against other races are formed in childhood or adolescence and the child usually learns from the family members, school peers and direct social environment (Muncie, 2004).
Social inclusion is one of the major issues of socialization as emphasized by the government as minority communities and individuals from different races and religions may feel excluded and this exclusion leads to a sense of frustration and crime among the youth of the excluded groups (McAuley, 2007). In order to overcome this sense of exclusion, minority groups and especially the young people of minority groups have been given special support through various social services of inclusion and inclusion is also part of the socialization process and could be considered as secondary as individuals go through social inclusion adaptive processes and behavior after they have been already brought up and undergone primary socialization in their family homes or schools that were not too conducive to inclusion.
In fact the making of responsible citizens include adaptive processes at home, family and school, work or general community and the young people develop knowledge of cultures at home and in the community and also endorse their own subcultures of social attitudes and behavior that are influenced by primary rather than secondary socialization (Hall and Jefferson, 1976). Considering that primary socialization and what we learn from the immediate environment in childhood is more important than secondary socialization and what we learn at the workplace or in new environments, primary socialization still remains the basic socialization process and secondary socialization only implies a change or an addition to what has been already learnt in childhood.
- Arnett, Jeffrey J. 1995. Broad and Narrow Socialization: The Family in the Context of a Cultural Theory. Journal of Marriage and the Family 57( 3):617-28.
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- White, Graham (1977) Socialisation, London: Longman
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