The Importance of Socialization in Society!
The human infant comes into the world as biological organism with animal needs.
He is gradually moulded into a social being and he learns social ways of acting and feeling. Without this process of moulding, the society could not continue itself, nor could culture exist, nor could the individual become a person. This process of moulding is called ‘Socialization’.
Meaning of Socialization:
Socialization, according to MacIver, “is the process by which social beings establish wider and profounder relationships with one another, in which they become more bound up with, and moa perceptive of the personality of themselves and of others and build up the complex structure of nearer and wider association.”
Kimball Young writes, “Socialization will mean the process of inducting the individual into the social and cultural world; of making him a particular member in society and its various groups and inducting him to accept the norms and values of that society…. Socialization is definitely a matter of learning and not of biological inheritance.”
It is through the process of socialization that the new born individual is moulded into a social being and men find their fulfillment within society. Man becomes what he is by socialization. Bogardus defines socialization as the “process of working together, of developing group responsibility, of being guided by the welfare needs of others.”
According to Ogburn, “Socialization is the process by which the individual learns to conform to the norms of the group.” Ross defined socialization as “the development of the we feeling in associates and their growth in capacity and will to act together.” Through the process of socialization the individual becomes a social person and attains personality.
Gillin and Gillin write, “By the term ‘socialization’ we mean the process by which individual develops into a functioning member of the group according to its standards, conforming to its modes, observing its traditions and adjusting himself to the social situations.” Socialization is the process whereby the individual acquires the conventional patterns of human behaviour.
According to Lundberg, socialization consists of the “complex processes of interaction through which the individual learns the habits, skills, beliefs and standards of judgment that are necessary for his effective participation in social group and communities.” “Socialization is a learning that enables the learner to perform social roles.”
According to Green, “Socialization is the process by which the child acquires a cultural content, along with selfhood and personality”.According to Horton and Hunt, “Socialization is the process whereby one internalizes the norms of his groups, so that a distinct “self” emerges, unique to this individual.” H. T. Mazumdar defines socialization as “the process whereby original nature is transformed into human nature and the individual into person.”
Every man tries to adjust himself to the condition and environment predominantly determined by the society of which he is a member. If he fails to do so, he becomes a social deviant and is brought back into line by the efforts of the group of which he is a member. This process of adjustment may be termed socialization. It is the opposite of individualization. It is a process of the expansion of the self. It develops in him the community feeling.
Socialization may be differentiated from sociality and socialism. Sociality is a quality, socialization is a process. Sociality may mean the capacity to mix with others, to enter into relations with them easily and comfortably. Man is a socialized animal, though he may not possess very much sociality in the common sense of the term. In the process of socialization one comes to acquire the quality of sociality.
Socialism is a theory, not a quality or a process. It is a theory of future structure of society. So much vagueness surrounds this word ‘socialism’ that it is very difficult to define it in exact terms. Every person and party brand themselves as socialist. Very appropriately Load had compared socialism to a hat which has lost its shape because everyone wears it.
In a stricter sense socialism is the theory that the means of production, exchange and distribution should be owned and, controlled either by the state or by other associations directly responsible to community. Such ownership will result in a more equitable distribution of wealth, security for the people against poverty, disease and ignorance. In any case socialism concerns itself with what ought to be.
Socialization may also be distinguished from ‘maturation’ Maturation refers primarily to the physical and chemical processes of development over which man has comparatively little control. It is the growing up and gradual changing of the organism. Socialization is a process of learning through which he acquires the habits and patterned behaviour.
It designates all of the social processes and pressures by which the norms and standards of a group or community are inculcated in the beliefs and behaviours of the individual members.
Process of Socialization:
The social order is maintained largely by socialization. Unless the individuals behave in accordance with the norms of the group it is going to disintegrate. But how does the process of socialization begin to work? It is said that the working of the process starts long before the child is born.
The social circumstances preceding his birth lay down to a great extent the kind of life he is to lead, the parent’s courtship, and marital selection, his customs concerning pregnancy and birth and the whole system of cultural practices surrounding the family are important for the child’s growth.
The techniques of parental care affect his chances of being born and of being healthy. Pre-natal care forms an integral part of family welfare. Thus the circumstances preceding his birth indirectly influence his growth in society.
But direct socialization begins only after birth. The newly born child as an organism has certain things which limit or help socialization. These things which he has may be categorised into reflexes, instincts, urges and capacities.
Reflexes put the severest limitation upon socialization. Reflexes are the automatic and rigid responses of the organism to a given stimulus. They are unlearnt and even unmodifiable. They set limits on what the organism can do. But they are not the bases out of which socialization emerges. The contraction of the pupil of the eye in strong light, the salivation of the glands of the mouth at the taste of sugar is examples of reflexes.
Some psychologists have sought to explain human behaviour in terms of instinct. Adam Smith, in his treatise ‘Sympathetic Basis of Human Activities’ has accepted sympathy as the basis of all human behaviour. Trotter believes all human behaviour to be based on herd instinct. Freud, the founder of the school of psycho analysis, claims the sex instinct to be the source of all human endeavours.
McDougall is strong advocate of the theory of instincts. A behaviour is said to be instinctive if that “originates in an urge or appetite, involves some sort of perception of the external world, is peculiarly fixed and mechanical, is dependent on inherited structure and therefore characteristic of the species and is at the same time highly adaptive or functional”.
But to explain human behaviour In terms of instinct is fallacious because the human being at birth probably has no complete instinct but only certain elements of them, such as reflexes and urges.
Urge provides firmer ground for analysis of human behaviour. If human needs are not satisfied, it leads to tension until it encounters a stimulus capable of relieving the tension. The urge is thus a dynamic force behind behaviour; it provides a starting point for the process of socialization.
Everyone is born with defined capacities. Though there may be some limits to what a man can do, this limitation can be overcome and is being overcome by the development of civilization. Man’s capacity to learn may be increased by the development of new techniques of instruction and incentives. At present, no human being learns as much as he could under more favourable circumstances, for his learning capacity is never used to maximum capacity. All societies are guilty of wasting human learning ability.
Factors of the Process of Socialization:
Socialization, as said above, is the process of learning group norms, habits and ideals. There are four factors of this process of learning. These are imitation, suggestion, identification and language.
A brief description of these four factors is necessary:
Imitation is copying by an individual of the actions of another. Mead defines it as “self-conscious assumption of another’s acts or roles.” Thus when the child attempts to walk impressively like his father swinging a stick and wearing spectacles, he is imitating. Imitation may be conscious or unconscious, spontaneous or deliberate, perceptual or ideational. In imitation the person imitating performs exactly the same activity as the one being performed before him.
Imitation is the main factor in the process of socialization of the child. Through it he learns many social behaviour patterns. The child as compared to adult possesses the greatest capacity for imitation. Language and pronunciation are acquired by the child only through imitation. It is because of the tendency to imitate that children are so susceptible to the influence of their parents and friends whose behaviour they imitate indiscriminately.
According to McDougall, “suggestion is the process of communication resulting in the acceptance with conviction of the communicated proposition in the absence of logically adequate grounds for its acceptance.”
Suggestion is the process of communicating information which has no logical or self-evident basis. It is devoid of rational persuasion. It may he conveyed through language, pictures or some similar medium.
Suggestion influences not only behaviour with others but also one’s own private and individual behaviour. In trade, industry, politics, education and every other field people acquainted with psychological facts make use of suggestion to have their ideas and notions accepted by other people and to make the latter behave according to their wishes. Actually, propaganda and advertising are based on the fundamental psychological principles of suggestion.
The suggestibility of the child is greater than that of the adult because in childhood he is devoid of maturity and reason. The suggestibility of an individual decreases with an increase in his maturity and mental level. It may be however necessary to keep in mind that there be able to be a difference in the suggestibility of children belonging to different societies and also the same society.
There are several external and internal conditions which enhance suggestibility. Thus temperament, intellectual ability, ignorance, inhibition, dissociation, emotional excitement and fatigue are some of the internal conditions of suggestibility. Among the external conditions mention may be made of group situation, prestige of the suggested and public opinion.
In his early age, the child cannot make any distinction between his organism and environment. Most of his actions are random. They are natural reactions of which he is not conscious. As he grows in age, he comes to know of the nature of things which satisfy his needs. Such things become the object of his identification.
Thus the toys with which he plays, the picture-book which he enjoys or looking at the mother who feeds him become the objects of his identification. The speed and area of identification increase with the growth in age. Through identification he becomes sociable.
Language is the medium of social intercourse. It is the means of cultural transmission. At first the child utters some random syllables which have no meaning, but gradually he comes to learn his mother-tongue. Therein it has already been told that language moulds the personality of the individual from infancy.
Theories of Socialization:
The heart of socialization is the development of the self. But what is meant by ‘self? According to Cooley, By self is meant that which is designated in common speech by “I’, ‘me’, and ‘myself.’ Cooley’s definition of self is simple enough but it does not refer to any clear-cut entity such as one’s body.
Therefore Gardner Murphy says that the self is “the individual as known to the individual”. The self of a person is what he consciously or unconsciously conceives himself to be. It is thus his “self-concept”- the sum total of his perceptions of himself, and especially his attitudes toward himself. When a child is born, he has no self, i.e., he has no consciousness of itself or of others.
He does not possess those behaviour mechanisms which make an individual apart and a member of any group. He has no conception of where the social customs begin and end. In short, the child at birth is not conscious of any of the self and other relationships. These relationships the child learns through the process of socialization.
It is the fulfillment of his potentialities for personal growth and development. It humanizes the biological organism and transforms it into a self having a sense of identity and endowed with ideals, values and ambitions. Self is a social product and socialization is the indispensable condition for individuality and awareness.
There are three important theories to explain the development of self. These theories have been propounded by Cooley, Mead and Freud.
A brief description of these theories is given below:
(1) Cooley’s Theory:
Cooley’s concept of self development has been termed “looking-glass self’ concept. According to him, man develops the concept of self with the help of others. Man does not come to form opinions about him unless and until he comes into contact with other people and knows their opinions about him.
He forms the concept of himself on the basis of opinions held by others about him. Thus when our associates call us intelligent or average, tall or short, fat or thin we react to their opinion and form the same opinion about ourselves as they have formed.
In other words, just as the picture in the mirror gives an image of the physical self, so the perception of others gives an image of the social self. The knowledge about ourselves comes to us from the reaction of other persons. These other comprise our social looking-glass through which we form the image of ourselves.
There are three principal elements of the looking-glass concept:
(1) Our perception of how we look to others; (2) Our perception of their judgment of how we look; and (3) Our feelings about these judgments. Take an example. Suppose that whenever you enter a room and approach a small group of people conversing together, the members promptly leave the room with lame excuses.
This has taken place several times. Would it not affect your feelings about yourself? Or, if whenever you appear, a group quickly forms around you, how would this attention affect your self- feelings? Thus, we discover ourselves through the reactions of others about us. This self knowledge is first gained from parents arid is modified later by the reactions of other individuals.
It may also be referred that the reactions of the people about us are not similar or we may misjudge their reactions. An ego-boosting remark may be a mere flattery. Thus, the looking-glass self which the individual perceives may differ from the image others have actually formed. There is often a significant variation between the individual’s perception of how others picture him and the views they actually hold.
(2) Mead’s Theory:
G. H. Mead has given a sociological analysis of the process of socialization. According to him the self develops out of the child’s communicative contact with others. The new-born infant has needs like those for food and clothing that press for satisfaction. The mother satisfies these needs and the child comes to depend upon her and ‘identifies himself with her emotionally.
But in course of time the child differentiates himself from his mother and then he has to integrate himself and mother into a new social system, a two-person, two-role system, with the child taking a subordinate role to the superior role of the mother. Then the child repeats the process for his father.
He differentiates his father from his mother and then integrates him into the social system. In this way the number of ‘significant others’ increases for the child; and the child internalises the role of these others. He puts himself in the role of the others and then responds to his own words and acts in terms of the meaning they would convey to the other person. In this way the self develops and grows.
An essential characteristic of the self is its reflexive character. By this Mead, George H. means that the self can be both subject and object to itself. It can reflect upon itself, or in other words, it can be self- conscious. Man can do so only through assuming the role of other persons and looking at himself through their eyes.
He learns to imagine how he appears to others and how do they judge this appearance. Then he reacts himself to this judgment as he imagines it. Thus by adopting towards himself the attitude that others take towards him, he comes to treat himself as an object as well as subject.
But acquiring the attitudes of others towards himself is not sufficient for the individual. He explores and finds out others’ attitudes toward him. This is very necessary for him; otherwise he could not predict or control what happens to him. The child learns at an early age that one of the most important ways of controlling his destiny is to influence the feelings of others towards himself.
The attitudes can be known only through the mechanism of symbolic communication. He must learn to utilize the symbols by which attitudes are communicated, so that he can conjure up the attitudes of others in his own imagination and in turn communicate his own reaction to others in the light of what he imagines to be their attitudes.
Once he has acquired the attitude of others as part of himself, he can judge how another person will respond or how he himself responds to the words he utters. The individual thus speaks to himself. What he says or thinks, calls out a certain reply in himself. He takes the role of others. “No sharp line can be drawn between our own selves and the selves of others, since our own selves function in our experience only in so far as the selves of others function in our experience also.”
The self is not something that exists first and then enters into relationship with others. It is something that develops out of social interaction and is constancy changing, constancy adjusting as new situations and conflicts arise. It assumes the prior existence of a social order and yet is the vessel in which and through which the order continues.
(3) Freud’s Theory:
The theories of Cooley and Mead presume a basic harmony between the self and society. According to Cooley, society and individuals are not separate phenomena but are simply collective and distributive aspects of the same thing. Sigmund Freud, the father of psycho-analysis, does not agree with this concept of self and society. According to himself and society are not identical.
He has explained the process of socialization in terms of his concepts of Id. Ego and Super ego which constitute the three systems of mind. The id is the organ of untamed passions and represents instinctive desires. The ego acts with reason while the super ego acts with ideals and norms. There is found a conflict between id and ego.
This id is usually repressed, but at times it breaks through in open defiance of the super ego. Sometimes it finds expression in disguised forms e.g. when a father relieves his aggression by beating the child. The ego in such a case is not aware of the basis of its actions.
Freud has compared the id with the horse and the ego with its rider. He says, ‘The function of the ego is that of the rider guiding the horse, which is the id. But like the rider, the ego sometimes is unable to guide the horse as it wishes and perforce must guide the id in the direction it is determined to go, or in a slightly different direction.” It is out of this conflict between the ego and the id that psychosis develops.”
Agencies of Socialization:
The process of socialization is operative not only in childhood but throughout life. It is a process which begins at birth and continues unceasingly until the death of the individual. It is an incessant process. Formerly, the term Socialization had not been applied to adult learning experiences but had been restricted to children.
More recently, however, the concept of socialization has been broadened to include aspects of adult behaviour as well. It is now thought of “as an interactional process whereby a person’s behaviour is modified to conform to expectations held by members of the groups to which he belongs.
Thinkers describe this process in reference to children only because therein such complicating factors as are introduced when the person becomes conscious of self and others are absent. When the person begins to read books, listen to stories and is enabled to have an imagination of ideal society, it becomes difficult to separate the subjective factors from the objective ones and assess their respective contribution in the socialization of the child.
Since socialization is an important matter for society it is but desirable that the child’s socialization should not be left to mere accident but should be controlled through institutional channels. What a child is going to be is more important than what he is. It is socialization which turns the child into a useful member of the society and gives him social maturity. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to know as to who socializes the child.”
There are two sources of child’s socialization. The first includes those who have authority over him; the second are those who are equal in authority to him. The first category may include parents, teachers, elderly persons, and the state. The second one includes the playmates, the friends and the fellows in the club.
His training varies in content and significance according as it is acquired from one or the other source. In one category is the relationship of constraint, in the other it is that of co-operation. The relationship of constraint is based on unilateral respect for persons in authority, while the relationship of co-operation is based on mutual understanding between equals.
The rules of behaviour, under the first category are felt as superior absolute and external, but rules in the second category have no superiority or absoluteness in themselves but simply are the working principles of association. Persons having authority over the child are generally older than he, while persons sharing equality with him are apt to be of similar age.
There are reasons as to why socialization should proceed through authoritarian modes. The patterns of behaviour expected in the culture are not innate; sometimes these are even contrary to biological inclination. It is, therefore, but necessary that persons charged with socializing the child must be given the power to command obedience.
This power can be given only to older persons because when the process of socialization begins, the infant has no juniors and no capacity for associating with equals. The parents, therefore, are the first persons who socialize the child. They are not only closely related to him in the family system but physically also they are nearer to the child than others. The mother is the first of the parents who begins the process of socialization.
It is from her that the earliest social stimuli to which a child is subjected, come. He responds to these stimuli by imitating them. With a wide age and experience gap separating the child from his parents, he cannot understand fully the logic and nature of all that they transmit to him.
In case the child does not follow the rules, he may be coerced, because from the societal point of view the essential thing is not that the child be ‘freed’ from taboo in order to “express his personality”, but that he may be taught folkways and mores and protected from himself during his period of childishness.
Hence what the child absorbs at the first instance is largely a morality of restraint. The society transmits, taking no chances, the most valued parts of its heritage. Societal morality is thus not a matter of rational understanding but of felt obligation.
The child acquires something from his equals which he cannot acquire from persons in authority. From them he acquires the co-operative morality and some of the informal aspects of culture like small folkways, fads and crazes, secret modes of gratification and forbidden knowledge. The knowledge of such things is necessary from the social point of view. To take an example the knowledge of sex relations is considered in our society something undesirable for a youth until he gets married.
If such knowledge is strictly banned until marriage, the performance of numerous functions of sex life may be difficult after marriage. So, sex knowledge is not excluded completely though formally it is considered undesirable. This knowledge the child acquires from equalitarian group.
Though the child cannot get as much knowledge from another child who is equal in age to him, yet “in so far as the child learns in the equalitarian group to understand the rules as part of a co-operative effort, in so far as he learns to stand up for his rights without the protection of authority or the abjectness of dependence, he acquires something that is very hard if not impossible to get in the authoritarian type of relationship.”
Thus both the authoritarian and equalitarian relationships contribute to the socialization of the child. Things that discipline and responsibility in transmission are handed over lo authoritarian relations, other things to equalitarian relations.
Briefly mentioned the chief agencies of socialization are the following:
(i) The Family:
The parents or family are the first to socialize the child. They are not only closely related to the child but physically also they are nearer to him than others. From the parents he learns his speech and languages. He is taught societal morality. He learns respect for persons in authority. In the family he learns a number of civic virtues.
The family is rightly called the cradle of social virtues. The child gets his first lessons in cooperation, tolerance, self sacrifice, love and affection in the family. The environment of a family influences the growth of a child. The psychologists have shown that a person is what he becomes in a family. In a bad family the child learns bad habits whereas in a good family he acquires good habits.
An important cause of juvenile delinquency is bad family environment. At the time of mate choice the parents also try to find out the family history of the boy and girl in order to know their good and bad points. The relationship between the parents and the child is one of constraint.’ The parents are older than he and have the power to command obedience.
In case the child does not follow the rules, he may be coerced. Of the parents it is the mother who first begins the process of socialization. The family continues to exercise its influence throughout life. There is a vast literature on family to describe its role in society.
(ii) The School:
The school is the second agency of socialization. In the school the child gets his education which moulds his ideas and attitudes. A good education can make the child a good citizen, while a bad education can turn him into a criminal. Education is of great importance in socialization. A well-planned system of education can produce socialized persons.
(iii) The Playmates or Friends:
The playmates and friends also are an important agency of socialization. The relation between the child and his playmates is one of equality. It is based on cooperation and mutual understanding. They are mostly of similar age. As told above, the child acquires something from his friends and playmates which he cannot acquire from parents.
From them he acquires cooperative morality and some of the informal aspects of culture like fashions, fads, crazes, modes of gratification and forbidden knowledge. The knowledge of such things is necessary from the social point of view.
To take an example, the knowledge of sex relations is considered in our society something undesirable for a youth till he gets married- If such knowledge is banned strictly until marriage, the performance of numerous functions of sex life may be difficult after marriage. This knowledge the child acquires from his friends and playmates.
(iv) The Church:
Religion has been an important factor in society. In the early society religion provided a bond of unity. Though in modern society the importance of religion has diminished, yet it continues to mould our beliefs and ways of life. In every family some or the other religious practices are observed on one or the other occasion. The child sees his parents going to the temple and performing religious ceremonies. He listens to religious sermons which may determine his course of life and shape his ideas.
(v) The State:
The state is an authoritarian agency. It makes laws for the people and lays down the modes of conduct expected of them. The people have compulsorily to obey these laws. If they fail to adjust their behaviour in accordance with the laws of the state, they may be punished for such failure. Thus the state also moulds our behaviour.
One of the reasons for the increasing crime in society is the failure of the socializing agencies to properly and adequately socialize the child. The modern family faces a crisis today and suffers from parental maladjustment which adversely affects the process of socialization. The educational system is full of draw backs.
The school is no longer a temple of education. It is a place where boys and girls learn more of drugs and alcohol and less o cultural heritage. The onslaught of urbanization has abolished the neighborhood system and snatched playmates from the child who now plays with electronic games than with the neighborhood children.’ Similarly religion has a lesser hold in an urban social and state authority is more disobeyed than obeyed.
It need not be said that in order to have socialized being these agencies should function in an efficient manner. The modern society has to solve several problems of socialization and for the purpose it has to make these agencies more active and effective.
IV. Elements of Socialization:
Above we have described the process of socialization as works in society. The earliest social stimuli to which a child subjected come from his mother. But as the child’s contact widen other persons like father, brothers and sisters, playmate teachers, and policemen begin to mould his behaviour.
There are three elements which play their part in the socialization process of the individual. They are:
(i) The physical and psychological heritage of the individual.
(ii) The environment in which he is born, and
(iii) Culture in which he is because of the action a interaction between these elements.
This process of action and interaction is a complicated o and determines materially the makeup of the individual and 1 status in society. Let us study this process in a concrete way.
A child is born with some inborn physical and menu capacities in the environment of his family. According to his capacities he imbibes the culture of the family. If the mental physical capacities are not good, he may not be able to may proper use of his environment. Conversely, if the environment is not proper, tic with even the test mental and physical equipment may not be able to be at his best.
Environmental stimuli often determine the growth of human personality. A good school, social equality, political freedom, in short, a proper environment may greedy determines whether the social or the self centered forces will become supreme. Psychoanalysts have proved that a man behaves in society according to whatever he has become in the family. Healy and Bronner have pointed out that juvenile delinquents mostly hail from families which at one time or another have suffered some restriction in the fulfillment of social relations.
The problem of prostitution is said to be the problem of the parent- child relationship. Just as a flower fails to show its sweetness in a desert, and is born to blush unseen, similarly, many a man fail to display his genius because there is no proper environment for it. But as we said above proper environment alone will not develop personality unless the man is possessed of proper mental and physical capacities.
The environment is conditioned by the group for there is a culture peculiar to each group. Man lives in a group and while living so he has to conform to the traditions, beliefs and ideals of the group. Social nature is very much developed in and through group life. W. I. Thomas introduced the term “definition of the situation” by which he meant that the situation in which the child finds himself has already been defined for him and the rules according to which he must behave are determined by the group into which he is born.
The child has little or no chance of following wishes which are opposed to those of the group. His wishes and activities begin to be inhibited, and gradually, by definition within the family, by playmates in the school, in the Sunday school, through reading, by formal instruction, by informal signs of approval and disapproval, the growing members learn the code of society.
Thus group influences also determine the growth of human personality. It is, therefore, through the interaction of the above three factors that a human being becomes a social being.
Some Sociologists have mentioned a fourth element—the experience of the individual—in describing the process of socialization. Sometimes it is seen that a person fails to make use of his proper environment inspite of his full mental and physical capacities, because his own peculiar experience has kept him away from that environment.
A child, when forced to study, may associate education with physical punishment, and may turn out truant. As a person matures he faces one harsh experience after another, he sometimes loses that which he values highly, and thereby becomes more interested in the welfare of others. Sometimes suffering socializes man.
V. Role of Socialization:
The role of socialization in the development of human mentality and human behaviour may be shown by citing the two cases of Anna and Isabelle. Anna, an illegitimate child, was caused to be kept all alone in an upstairs room. When removed from the room at the age of nearly six years, Anna could not talk, walk or do anything, that showed intelligence.
She was expressionless and indifferent to everything. She could not make any move in her own behalf. This shows that in the absence of socialization the purely biological resources are too poor to contribute to the development of a complete personality. Communicative contact is the core of socialization.
Isabelle was found at the age of six and a half years. Like Anna she was an illegitimate child and had been kept in isolation for that reason. When found she was apparently utterly unaware of relationships of any kind. Her behaviour was comparable to that of a child of six months. Later attempts were made to teach her to speak.
At first the task seemed hopeless but lately she responded and ultimately reached the normal level of development by the time she was eight and a half years old.
Isabelle’s case shows that isolation up to the age of six with failure to acquire any form of speech does not preclude the subsequent acquisition of it. But what would be the maximum age at which a person could remain isolated and still retain the capacity for full cultural acquisition is hard to say. Both these cases, however, show the role of socialization in personality development.
Through them it is possible “to observe concretely separated two factors in the development of human personality which are otherwise only analytically separated, the biogenic and the sociogenic factors.” According to La-Piere and Farnsworth, “The term personality has come into scientific usage to designate the product of socialization as of any given moment with any given individual.
It refers to the ‘whole’ of what the individual has acquired through socialization.” In short, socialization is the most important factor in personality development.
VI. Socialization of Adults:
So far we were considering the socialization of children. But as remarked earlier, socialization is a continuous process. It does not stop at a certain age, but instead continues throughout life.
The socialization of adults is easier than the socialization of children; firstly, because the adult ordinarily is motivated to work towards a goal that he already envisions; secondly, because the new role that he is trying to internalize has many similar ides to roles already existing in his personality, and thirdly, because the socializing agent can communicate with him easily through speech.
However, the socialization of adults can be a prolonged and difficult process. This is especially so when the roles to be learnt are difficult and the responsibilities of the role are heavy. Further, the norms and attitudes have already become deeply internalised in adults and so when the norms and attitudes to be learnt run counter to norms already established in the personality, socialization of adults becomes a difficult process.
The importance of socialized attitudes cannot be minimised in a society. A person with socialized attitudes would not do any work which is socially harmful. He would not engage in any business which is socially non-productive or which depends for its maintenance upon unhealthy competition. A socialized citizen would place human welfare above his individual gain. He would put human values above all else.
Socialization reduces social distance and produces nearness. Modern society has still to solve some basic problems of socialization at all stages of childhood and youth. It can hardly be said that any society makes full use of the individual’s capacities. The improvement of socialization offers one of the greatest possibilities for the future alteration of human nature and human society.
The term ‘individualisation’ and how it works may be explained. Individualisation is that social process which tends to make the individual more or less independent of his group and to create in him a self- consciousness of his own.
According to MacIver individualization is “the process in which men become more autonomous or self- determining in which they advance beyond mere imitativeness or acceptance of standards which come to them with only an outer sanction, in which they become less bounce by tradition and custom in the regulation of their lives, less submissive to authority and dictation in matters of thought and opinion recognising that each is a unique focus of being and can achieve the ends of his life only as these grow clear in his own consciousness and become the objects of his own will.
Individualization is the process in which man comes to know himself, and acquire the sense of inner responsibility. It is simply the process of attaining to one’s own self, when a man does things not simply because others do the same things but because his own self approves it, he is carried by his own individuality which is a quality to him. Socialization brings man into relation with others; individualization makes him autonomous or self-determining.
In understanding how the process of individualization works, two misconceptions should be removed. Firstly, the individualization is a process carried through solely by the individual himself; secondly, that individualization is primarily a mental process which is being spread through the prevailing ideas. When a man attains his own self, it does not mean that the individual frees himself completely from the influence of his group.
Not only the individual himself but the society as well helps him in acquiring the inner sense of responsibility and in knowing himself. So the process of individualization is carried not only by the individual himself but also by the society.
Secondly, the task of the sociologist is not merely to ascertain the ideas that exist at a certain time but also to investigate how these ideas came into existence. Ideas by themselves do not create individualization. They are merely the mental expressions of the process of individualization.
Aspects of Individualization:
Mannheim has distinguished four main aspects of individualization.
(i) individualisation as a process of learning different from other people, (ii) individualization on the level of new forms of self regarding attitudes, (iii) individualization through objects, and (v) individualization as a kind of deepening into ourselves which implies receiving into our experience of ourselves and sublimating the individualising forces around and within us. All these processes are entirely different phenomena.
The first aspect of individualisation consists in the process of becoming different from other people. The external differentiation of individuals leads to the formation of new groups. The division of labour characteristic of modern industrial society accelerates the emergence of such groups. These groups permit more or less individuality in their members according to the intensity and volume of internal organisation and regulations.
Besides these two factors, i.e., external differentiations and division of labour there is still a third factor which leads to external differentiation of types. This is lack of contacts. The people isolated from other people develop different types of personality. Democratisation, free competition and social mobility also further individualization as a process of becoming different.
Individualization also consists in becoming aware of one’s specific character and in the rise of a new kind of self evaluation. The individual comes to feel himself as superior and separate from others and evaluates himself in high terms. He begins to regard his life and character as unique.
The preconditions of this process of individualization are: “a strict differentiation and distance of the leading elites; the organisation of the group in such a way as to provide for certain circles a chance to become despotic; the existence of the isolated milieu of a court where the despot can have the illusion of being powerful if not almighty.”
These preconditions make the person a tyrant whose power rests upon physical power and spiritual coercion. History abounds in examples of tyrants who regarded themselves as superior to all and felt that their life and character are unique. It is a feeling of self-glorification. The following passage from the annals of Assurbanipal (885-860 B.C.) vividly illustrates this attitude of self-glorification.
“I am the king. I am the Lord. I am the sublime. I am the Great, the strong; I am the famous, I am the Prince; the Noble, the War Lord, I am a lion. I am God’s own appointed. I am the unconquerable weapon, which lays the land of enemies in ruin. I captured them alive and stuck them on poles; I coloured the mountain like wool with their blood. From many of them I tore off the skin and covered the walls with it.
I built a pillar of still living bodies and another pillar of heads. But in the middle I hung their heads on vines. I prepared a colossal picture of my royal personage, and inscribed my might and sublimity on it. My face radiates on the ruins. In the service of my fury I find my satisfaction.”
The third aspect of individualization is in the individualisation of the wishes through objects. Some people come to have a fixed feeling towards certain people and objects. The psycho-analysists have given it the name of ‘libido fixations.’ The peasant and the landed aristocrat are more settled in their wishes than the rich mobile types of the city.
Many factors influence the individual choice such as wealth or the process of modern production and distribution. Social mobility also may bind the individual to specific wishes. Family conditions also shape the wishes of the individual.
The feeling of estrangement of becoming solitary may lead an individual to introspection and inwardness. In big cities where there is an atmosphere of unfriendliness, indifference and confusion and the community does not exercise any deep influence upon its members this feeling of estrangement is more peculiar. Under such conditions there develops in the individual a feeling of privacy, partial isolation. It leads to introspection, which is another form of individualization.