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Primary and secondary socialisation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 5554 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Socialisation is …the process of social interaction that teaches the child the intellectual, physical and social skills needed to function as a member of society.


The purpose of this document is to research, from a sociological perspective the norms, values and socialisation that is essential for family, society and culture. These key attributes provide the individual with key skills, behaviours and habits; necessary to enable participation within their own society – observing the rules and boundaries established within their “Norms and Values” and modifying and changing behaviours throughout their life time

“The Culture of Society is the way of life of its members; the collection of ideas and of habits which the learn and transmit from generation to generation”

Ralph Linton

Norms are the social and cultural guidelines by which we live our lives, and both knowingly and unknowingly conform and comply too during our life time. Out norms are key attributes that define our behaviours and can determine the groups and individuals, social acceptance – Or non acceptance. We learn how to behave through a complex combination of stimulus – Visual, Oral and Sensory. As we grow in our mental maturity and awareness, the influence of family, environment and culture, combine to define our Norms. These key developmental elements combined, influence and determine, personal and social interactive abilities – developing social skills to recognise social boundaries, acceptable behaviours and responses. Therefore our Norms are intrinsic to our development, our personal behaviour, and social acceptance. Key aspects of our “Norms” are:

Convention – Being a standard, non culturally specific element within the Norms of convention.

An example being that an individual is expected to follow the “rules” which are an established expectation of behaviours, within the context of conventional social acts and responses.

An example of a culturally specific “Injunctive Norm “is when a Cultural belief, such as polygamy is accepted as a “Norm”. This is defined as “Culturally Specific” as this practise is not legally practised or recognised within the Western Society. An exception could be the Mormons, who have Sects that practise polygamy, based mainly in America. The main Mormon Church – The Latter Day Saints, no longer advocates such practise, although there are certain Mormon Fundamentalists Sects, whose religious fundamental belief systems adhere to the original writings of Brigham Young.

Within many Muslim cultures, a husband can legally take more than one wife. This practise is not recognised legally with Western cultures.

Sociological Values may be material or nonmaterial, internal or external. Values and beliefs are culturally specific – Given this the evaluation of their respective value is specific to the individual or group.

An example might be, when an individual uses their Core value system, they relate into either a cultural or belief system that is specific to the influences within their social “Norms and Value” origin, group or society. Ultimately Social “Norms and Values” cover a wide range of Sociological study.

Example of Cultural Values defined: Sociological “Norms and Values” under stress from changes, can impact an individual, group, society or cultural perspective. Change or deviation when combined with poor or irrational judgement – that sits outside the “Norms and Values” of either, a specific Culture or Belief System, can have a mired level of impacts. Therefore Norms and Values can and do change. What may be acceptable as an individual would not necessarily be acceptable at group level. Differentials on the range of what would be acceptable within their own personal attitude and value system is specific.

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Change to an Individuals “Norm and Values” can be challenged by the individual on the basis that the “Worth or Value is not acceptable to them – because it fails to resonate within them as acceptable as a Social or belief Value. Alternatively if may present as an abstract Value and hold no specific desirability. Values are abstract in nature and general. A culture’s values are its ideals about what is good, right, fair, and just. Sociologists disagree, however, on how to conceptualise values. There is a conflict theory that focuses on how values differ between groups within a culture. The National Centre for social research annual report for 2009 indicates that the British values are changing – the full report is available at (http://www.natcen.ac.uk/pzMedia/uploads/Downloadable/da9c4be7-da86-410a-9176-3b362fb4f1ba.pdf) the 2009 survey consisted of more than 4,000 interviews with a representative, random sample of people in Britain. It finding have shown that change in society’s values is generally slow and is impacted by the media and other external stimuli.

Functional sociologist Talcott Parsons noted that Americans share the common value of the “American work ethic,” Whilst this is most certainly a cultural social observation which encourages hard work. Herbert Spencer one of the first British Sociologists stated that “Society exists for the benefit of its members, not the members for the benefit of society.” Common values within western societies are based on materialism, and money, although reliance on science and technology, and the role of democracy and freedom are key norms and values that exist – although these can change during stressed and unexpected change. A culture may have conflicting values; an example would be that value of materialistic success may be in opposition to that of charitable acts. Equally the value of social equality may be in opposition to that of the value placed on the individual state. This can be explained as a contraction in what people say, what they really think, and what they do. Social pressure to conform can be a deciding factor, as individuals own norms and values system will be a sub conscious factor in that decision making.

So when does socialisation begin; its starts as soon as we are born and ultimately ends with our death. As soon as a child is born, primary socialisation begins. In every instance of social interaction, a child can uses this period as a learning experience – particularly in terms of cultural concepts of identity, social roles, and norms of behaviour. The very young child is totally reliant on its parents or carers. The baby will initially respond to the external stimuli provided by parents or carers. The main senses initially used by the child will be responsive, such as when they are hungry, in discomfit, or want human contact/ touch. They will respond to sound and vision – this is important time for child/parent/carer socialisation – this represents a very emotional time, and the close bonds of love and loyalty, which in theory will last a life time, are established.

As chronological development of the child takes place, by the age of two, a child will be in procession of a rudimentary set of primary skills and behaviours. The child will be able to copy its parents and siblings, and will be learning a wider set of social skills – these will be both culturally specific and socially generic. The socialisation of the child within its own society and culture will be established during an intense period of self development and awareness; children acquire a sense of their “self”. This is an important developmental milestone that occurs between 18/24 months. As they mature they will be in the possession of a set of norms, values and culturally specific behaviours that will enable then to function in groups and society.

The family plays a significant and defining role in the primary socialisation of a child. The family acts as the primary socialising agent for the first few years of life; however Socialisation in the family varies greatly, and can be dependent on Social, cultural, ideological and ethnical differences. Within Britain, the structure of family has changed; there are more working class Lone parent families, who have no immediate family support available to provide child care – this has resulted in child care providers having a far greater role in childhood socialisation over the last 20 years. One of the most important primary functions of the family is to reproduce biologically, socially and culturally-the production of children is not the only function of the family. A child’s perspective is that the family is its core and primary socialising agent; however the family perspective is one of responsibility, to provide the growing child with the necessary skills and knowledge in their socialisation and acceptance in their common culture. From the parental/carer point of view the family is the central nucleus that provides the care, learning, development, social, cultural education: the goal of which is to socialise and incorporate cultural ideologies and values in their children. However there are many variants in societies and cultures, which place more emphasis on the sexual division of marriage and labour, the resulting relationship between family groups and the economics.

An example being; that child labour is still practised illegally and openingly in Asia, and parts of Africa. Many of these countries have poor economies and the communities and families require a child to work to contribute to the household or village – this can be the difference between life and death. Equally the value of a male child may be greater than that of a female child, as in many cultures, males are preferred for financial and social reasons. In time of hardship cultures such as the Eskimo’s would practise infanticide, if they were lacking enough food or provisions, this was a decision made on the basis that males contribute more, as they grow in to hunters and support the community, where as a females contribution was seen as less valuable to the community.

As in family, education is an important agent of socialisation and the school environment is a formal agent of socialisation. The purpose of education is to socialise children in selected skills and knowledge, preparing them with so that they can build on the skills and knowledge acquired, as they grow and mature. The formal education system in England starts at Playschool for ages 2-4 – this is now a socially acceptable form of early socialisation. The child then progresses to a more formalised, yet still free play, Reception Class- these are mainly attached to a primary school, which the child then transition into – thereby keeping the social group intact. Primary education provides a child with a formalised approach to learning. The child will learn new social rules and boundaries; these will build on the norms and values that they have been taught by their parents/carers. The family influence is still very strong, as these age groups are heavily dependent upon their family. The child continues its primary socialisation via classroom activities, playing, and school social interaction, within its peer group. The peer group becomes important, as it is based on a child’s ability to interact, make friends and socialise – the pressure to conform and be accepted, increases with age. There are many reasons for this: such as social standing IE: family wealth, material possession, ethnicity, extrovert /introverts behaviors’ and the pecking order of favorability within the peer group.

Exclusion from a peer group is a highly stressful and can be initiated by the school due to behavioral or attendance issues – these issues would require remedial agreement and action between the school, child and parent. Wider involvement of care agencies, such as educational psychologists and family welfare social workers, would be required if the family were found to be unable to function or cope, due to a verity of social or financial reasons.

An example being: When a child starts school they will already have set social behaviors’, family and cultural values – however the development of the socialisation of the child can be interrupted or stunted if they are unable to behave within the norms of a school environment, which is ultimately a microcosm of their society – therefore when a male child of four presents with undiagnosed ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) who in reception class cannot concentrate or settle; who is unable to focus and displays disruptive, Impulsive, restlessness with a high level of hyperactivity – was segregated from the main class. He was unable to establish friendship, was not invited to any after school activities and was taught alone. His socialisation at such a key stage was halted. ADHD will often present as inattentiveness, and will prevent a child from learning and will stunt their socialisation if not addressed. This child was excluded from school at 5 years old. At this point a wider most specialised group of social, education workers – worked with the parents, and school, after ADHD was diagnosed. Once the appropriate level of medication (Ritalin- commonly used for ADHD) was prescribed, an immediate change in behaviour was evident. A plan of resocialisation and integration was applied, and an educational statement was issued by the local educational authority. This ensured the funding necessary for one to one support, and additional help required to enable the child to be educated and resocialised. One of the key learning aids for this child’s resocialisation and reintegration was the use of media – the use of media in the home and school, leisure environments have become an integrated part of contemporary life. Such is the impact of Media, that it has become a dominant agent of socialisation. Children are exposed from a very early age to media; examples being a music DVD, Television or Computer games – which can be interactive, educational and agility based. Multimedia is used in a variety of ways within the family, and is seen a key aspect of socialisation and development. Equally Multi Media is used within the formal setting of school and is used regularly as part of an Educational programme. There have been negative aspects in attributed to media and the violence seen in games, music, TV and film.

Secondary Socialisation is the wider process of learning; a child learns what is expected of them, and what is acceptable/appropriate behaviour, for them; within a small group that is part of a larger society and culture. Secondary socialisation represents a new developmental stage, and is generally associated with teenagers and adults. The social changes we experience are different to those of primary socialisation. An example would be, starting a new a level of education at college or university, relocating to a new environment or a change in social status or society. Some students may be transferring from a rural community to a more urban environment, whilst others may be international students being socialised to the British way of life. Others may be mature students without any prior higher educational experience. Moreover, any social structure can act as a socialising agent. For example, the work environment socialises the employees to conform to their way of business and their culture. In most organisations employees have clear responsibilities to respect authority, adhere to corporate policies, and work hard in exchange for financial compensation in the form of income and status promotions. Also, the wider public venues we all go to; such as shopping centres, libraries, hospitals, football matches, act as social interaction and educate us about new boundaries and constraints – thereby influencing our behaviour. When considering the norms of behaviour, of passengers on airplanes; those of a diner at a Michelin Star restaurant; or the fans at a Rugby or Tennis game. We all conform and adapt without conscious thought a large percentage of our lives – this conditioning allows us to move in a complex structure of Culture and Society.

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The secondary socialisation process is crucial particularly in times of stress and change. Transition from infancy to childhood to adolescence and adulthood are all companied by a socialisation process that is designed socially and culturally to give the individual, all the skills necessary to grow and co-exist. If the process of secondary socialisation fails, due to internal or external factors, the individual may not be in possession of the necessary social or cultural skills to cope logically and rationally. This situation could lead to a change in their values and social group. As an adult we experience the socialisation process through changes in careers, family structure, personal relationships, interests, such as politics. As our lives continue, we move to retirement age, the changes in family and career are now viewed differently; our priorities change, as situations such as being, unwell, or alone take precedence. The extended older family highlight the changing cultural values in the socialisation process.

With the introduction of media, older generations, are now learning and experiencing new experiences of information and communication, which is a new form of socialisation for them. This is a new agent of socialisation and is a powerful teacher and influencing agent within the context of socialisation, second only to Family. The media plays a significant role in shaping the social attitudes and social behaviours of our children and adolescents… Parents do exert the most influence on children; however the mass media can be considered secondary agents of socialisation.

For example, viewing of advertisements that are specifically targeted at the respective age group is related to poor self-esteem and juvenile depression among children who come from low-income families. It is likely that children feel inadequate in their peer group because they cannot have the products that are most sought by that peer group. Media and Marketing work hand in hand to influence our views – We are targeted as either specific social groups, age groups and economic groups – specifically to sell Products and Services. What we buy, where we buy, how we spend, and who we vote for, is heavily influenced by a range of Multi – Media; such as The TV, internet, Radio, advertising in magazines.

Gender plays a significant role in our status in society; our gender identity is one of the most important elements of our sense of self. Some aspects of gender identity are rooted in our biology, such as our physical strength. However most of our gender identity is culturally defined. As we grow and age we develop our self awareness, and how we should relate to others, and the role we play in a larger society. The lessons children learn and the processes through which cultural norms are passed from one generation to the next is known as socialisation. Gender socialisation shows that there are roles, or cultural expectations and norms, which are associated with each sexual classification – Sociologists make distinctions between sexes and gender. Whilst sex is based on biological factors, gender is the based on cultural factors that stereotypically construct different social roles for men and women. Therefore Gender socialisation is the process through which males and females learn gender specific appropriate behaviour, dress, personality characteristics, and demeanour. While gender socialisation is an ongoing and lifelong – the majority of the sociological theories tend to focus on early childhood socialisation, as the key factor in Gender determination – Four such perspectives are the psychoanalytical, cognitive development, social learning, and social interaction perspectives. There is however a need in all societies for resocialisation of an individual. Resocialisation is a sociological concept dealing with the process of mentally and emotionally “re-training” an individual so that they can exist in an environment other than that which he or she is used to.

Examples of a need for Resocialisation such as the release from prison, mental health institutions and the Armed forces: new recruits into the army are actively encouraged to bond, so that they can operate as a cohesive unit – the process is then reversed for those who may have become institutionalised by their experiences in the socialisation process. Without appropriate support and counselling, mental health problems could present. Equally if an individual have been institutionalised due to lengthy incarceration because of mental illness, or a criminal offence – such as Murder: a staged plan of integration would be required, to allow assimilation and resocialisation to take place in society.

The role of religion within society and family has diminished. However it can be argued that the family and religion are an integrated cultural and social element for many ethnic groups. We provide “Faith schools” for many diverse religions with the UK. Ultimately religion presents in society as a double edged sword – much of the segregation in society is either politically or religiously motivated. Therefore religion is subjective and open to be interpretation – being first established within the family, and then the wider cultural and social experiences; it is also a very individual experience and within the period of secondary socialisation, these religious views, which translate as values and norms can be challenged by wider social and cultural diversity.

In many religions women are disenfranchised and treated as less than a man, this differs significantly in degree, and is dependent on external factors such as, culture, ideology and society. The status of women has changed over time – the female was often venerated and treated as equal’s pre-Christianity and Islam. Whilst I am sure there are many arguments’ to be put forward by the religious groups to defend this patriarchal stance, it has ultimately been a precursor to why certain cultures deny females the right to self determination – whilst the man’s family and gender position, has been elevated over time, and changed the cultural and social views and expectation of women – this lead to the initiation of the concept of feminism in Western Societies as early as the 1700 in England.

Feminism has many diverging theories and there is not one single view that can encapsulate and define the scope. However there are key aspects from radical feminism to lipstick feminism. The term ‘feminism’ refers to the social, cultural, and political ideologies and movements which aim are to eliminate or minimise the social, cultural inequality of the sexes and institutionalised discrimination of women. The original term ‘feminism’ was first used to denote the ‘qualities of female’. It was in1892 when ‘feminism’ was first socialised as a concept, and was used as a belief in the right of women to have social equality. Since this time feminism has grown and developed to actually permeate social, cultural and political spheres. Feminism has impacted and has been a defining movement for several fields of knowledge – such as sociology, history, literary, philosophy to name but a few.

The history of feminism has been divided into three main categories of movements. These movements are categorised as waves. The first-wave which ends 19th to early 20th century, the second-wave 1960s to 1980s, and third-wave from 1990s to present day. However the true roots of feminism can be distinguished much earlier in society, and can be identified in the early medieval period. These women were the early pioneers of feminism and should be held up as our forbears, as the true originators of the feminist philosophy.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, who lived in the 12th century, and was Queen to France and England, Eleanor is one of the earliest examples of feminists in the history of feminist ideology, Eleanor was of the opinion that women were superior to men, whilst feminist – Christine de Pizan a Venetian writer who A early famous British author, Jane Anger, born in the 16th century, was a famous feminist when she went to print with her pamphlet “Her Protection of Women in 1589” (http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/anger1.html). Jane’s pamphlet condemned men for viewing women as secondary citizens and using women for the sole purpose of satisfying the male sexual needs and desires.

There are many notable famous feminists such as Mary Shelley, J.S. Mill and the writer Virginia Woolf, Germaine Greer. However, the French philosopher and author Simone de Beauvoir – 1908-1986; is the champion of women’s rights. Simone De Beauvoir is best known for her book “The Second Sex” (http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/2nd-sex/introduction.htm arth) In the Second Sex, Simone provides an in-depth analysis of the contemporary social oppression of women. Simone de Beauvoir is credited with being the creating force behind the tract of modern feminism movements.

There are extreme views within feminism; radical feminists believe for example, that there exists within society and culture, an oppressive patriarchy, that is the fundamental root cause of the majority of serious social problems. An example is that violent actions towards women are more fundamental, than cultural oppression that relates to class, religion, or ethnicity. Radical feminists find that the prioritisation of oppression and the universalisation of the idea of “Woman” (http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Emancipation-of-women) which is the basis of the core beliefs of traditional radical feminist thinking. However other feminists dismiss this as too generic, and state that women in non westernised countries would not be able to relate or experience the same as that of women in Westernised country, because the cultural, social ideological differences were too great.

Marxist feminism is a sub-type of feminist theory which focuses on the dismantling of capitalism as the means to liberate women from their constricted state of social economic inequality, male dependence, and ultimately they believe capitalism is the instigator of unhealthy social relations between men and women. For other uses, see Capitalism (disambiguation). … Some feminists hold the view that men, having been socialised to be the dominant aggressor, naturally seeks power within a social, family hierarchy. Therefore woman have been programmed and socialised to defer to men – thereby hindering the female ability to develop express, or articulate their own free will.

Socialist feminism is a sub branch of feminism that primarily focuses upon the social and private aspects of a woman’s life. Socialist feminists argue that true liberation can only be achieved by working to end the cultural and economic sources of women’s oppression. Socialist feminism is a dualist theory, which is based, and builds upon the Marxist feminism’s argument – which in turn is based on the role of capitalism, as the key factor of patriarchal oppression of women.

Liberal feminism is not as well defined in its criteria of gender equalities as either Radical, Marxist or Socialist feminists. Their approach is to view both men and woman as having a right to equality – yet acknowledges the family and the individuals needs in society of woman and men. Liberals such as Natasha Walter, who on being interviewed in regard to her book “The new feminism 1998” (http://www.thefword.org.uk/features/2002/01/interview_with_natasha_walter ) Natasha Walters states that the struggle is over and that woman now have all the same opportunities that men have.

Many active feminists take a holistic approach to politics, often supporting other movements such as the gay rights movement or civil rights movement. At the same time some black American feminists such as Bell Hooks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_hooks) who has criticised the American feminist movement for being dominated by white women – Hooks believes that the Black feminist cannot be represented by white woman as they have not suffered the same social disadvantages as black woman – slavery and racism have been factors in determining the black feminist views, as first established by Sejouner Truth white a early campaigner for black women’s right to vote (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/sojournertruth/a/sojourner_truth.htm ). Therefore Western society was not as relevant to the lives of black women. postcolonial eminism (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEnglish/imperial/key-concepts/feminism-and-postcolonialism.htm).

Feminism has effected many positive changes in Western society. Woman have equal work rights and wages (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/jmurray_01.shtml ) The legal right to initiate divorce proceedings, and the right to take control of their own bodies and medical decisions such as birth control and abortions. Western society has become increasingly more accepting of feminist principles. Some of the real live issues that existed before the 1960’s are no longer seen as specifically feminist. Some of the beliefs that were viewed as radical in the 1960’s are now mainstream political thought. Within Westernised societies the rights of women to vote, to self determination, the choice to marry or cohabit if she wants, are standard legal rights – as is the woman’s financial independence -which only 70 years ago would have been virtually unheard of.

Changes in culture, values and norms, can be directly attributed to the feminist movement. The traditional model of a heterosexual relationship in Western societies has been affected by feminism. While these changes are generally viewed in a positive light, there have been some negative consequences. Power exchange and role reversal in some of these relationships, has caused a level of dysfunctional relationships between men and women. When presented with these changes in social and cultural circumstances, women and men have had to change and adapt to new situations – which can cause confusions about role and identity. Men can feel emasculated, whilst some women have suffered with the ever growing demands of trying to live up to the “superwomen” tag. The need to balance a career and family can be a daunting prospect in society. In response to this family issue, Socialist feminists have blamed the lack of state-provided childcare facilities – which they consider still dominated by male views. However it is recognised within society that childcare is now a shared responsibility, and that men do recognise their responsibilities to assist in managing family care. In fact there are many more lone male parents and same sex parents now days and this has lost its stigma as solely a woman’s role of child care.

There have been changes in social, cultural values and attitudes towards sexual morality and behaviour – particularly with the onset of second wave of feminism and the “birth control Pill”: women were now in control of their own bodies, and are able to experience safe sex when they want, that was previously socially unaccepted for them. This sexual revolution that women have experienced has contributed to a more balanced equality and is seen by sex-positive feminists – such as Sharon Presley (http://www.sharonpresley.com/) and Gayle Rubin (http://science.jrank.org/pages/10942/Queer-Theory-Gayle-Rubin.html) who believe it has enabled women and men, to experience sex in a equal manner. However, the counter argument is that there are some feminists who feel that the result of the sexual revolution was only beneficial to men. There have been changes in perspective in regard to woman , the role they play in society – moreover Feminism has impacted religion- with many women within the protestant religion now being able to be ordained as clergy, this is also true within Reformed Judaism, where Jewish women are now ordained as rabbis. Women have gradually become more equal to their male counterparts, by obtaining positions of power within their respective religions. However the trend to allow females to be ordained is resisted by both the Catholic’s and Muslims. Islam expressly forbids Muslim women from being recognised within a religious role, as do the Catholics who


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