Socialization, the process of acquiring the social norms, cultural values and behavior patterns of a particular community, is an integral part of the personality formation. Every society resembles a living organism, in which the old cells perish and the new cells appear. Every day new people are born and learn to conform to the rules and norms, existing in their community, since early childhood. All the cells are closely interrelated and the vital activity of the whole organism depends on the functioning of every separate cell.
Socialization is realized in the process of the verbal and nonverbal interactions with other people. Sociologists single out two types of socialization:
Socialization is represented with the combination of the agents and institutions, forming, directing, stimulating and restricting the personality development. The agents of socialization are the particular people responsible for teaching the cultural norms and social values. The agents can be primary (parents, grandparents, siblings, close friends etc.) and secondary (the university administration, managers at work, mass media representatives etc.). Primary agents have the most vivid impact on the personality formation. The term “secondary” is applied to those, whose influence on a person is less vivid. The institutes of socialization, in their turn, are the organizations, influencing and directing the socialization process. As well as the agents, the institutes can be primary (family, school etc.) and secondary (government, church, mass media etc.) (Primary and secondary socialization).
The process of socialization consists of several stages:
Erik Erikson (1902 - 1994) defined the following stages of person’s socialization (Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development):
The following factors, influencing the person’s socialization, can be singled out:
It should be pointed out that the socialization patterns also depend on the person’s gender. Boys and girls are expected to react and behave differently. In some conservative cultures the difference between boys’ and girls’ upbringing is sharp, while other countries tend to be more liberal in this matter (Gender Socialization).
The socialization process continues during the whole life, but it is especially intensive in youth. That is the time when the basis of the spiritual development is laid down. It increases the significance of the quality of the upbringing and the responsibility of the society. The society sets the definite frame of reference of the upbringing process, which includes the formation of the worldview, based on the general morality norms and spiritual values; the fostering of creative thinking, high social activity, purposefulness, the ability to work as a part of a team; the constant need for self-education and self-improvement etc. A healthy society should also cultivate the ability to find the reasonable solution in case of life hardships and unusual situations; independence in decision making; the respect of the laws; social responsibility; the feeling of inner freedom and reasonable self-esteem.
The successful adoption of the similar norms by all the members within one society is a guarantee of the social uniformity. Those people who resist the rules and patterns that are being imposed are usually called “deviant” (Socialization). However, some societies are heterogeneous, since they comprise various ethnic groups (for example, the USA). In such countries people are more likely to be tolerant and liberal when coming across different norms and beliefs (Socialization).
All in all, socialization is a rather complicated process, influenced by various factors. This process starts in infancy and continues the whole life of the individual, being especially active at the first stages of a person’s life. The ability of the individual to actualize his skills and his potential, as well as the resistance to stress and depression are highly dependent on the peculiarities of his socialization.