Notes on Socialization: Introduction, Culture, Structure, Status and Conflict!
Notes on the Introduction to Socialization:
Socialization is a process of social growth through social learning. An individual is born into a society; a society is a group of people who depend upon one another for the satisfaction of their various needs, and who have also developed certain patterns of organization that enable them to live together and survive as a group.
These prescribed patterns of behaviour and other socially approved ways are aspects of culture. Culture then may be defined as, the sum total of values, expectations, beliefs, attitudes, customs, and traditions shared by the members of a group or nation.
The first socializing agent of a child is the family followed by his membership in school, religious institution, club, etc. Each cultural group has its own ways of dealing with universal problems like, the care and training of children, feeding and sheltering the group members etc. which are passed on to successive generations as the culture of the that society.
To understand how culture influences behaviour we must see how the processes of perception, motivation, thinking, and acting are affected. Thus for example, in a society where fishing is important, individuals of that society are able to discriminate minute changes in the weather and in the conditions of the sea, which would otherwise go unnoticed by most members of different society.
The myths, rites, religious ceremonies, literature and paintings of different cultures reveal their beliefs about their world. In short percepts, concepts, beliefs, motives, values, habits, customs and norms are the products of learning and not of inheritance. People learn to behave in accordance with their culture because there is continuity in the culture.
This continuity helps to strengthen the tendency to behave in the approved manner and at the same time to weaken the tendency to behave in an unapproved manner. Much of this training takes place in childhood. Rewards and punishments shape the behaviour of the young child to acquire the habits, which are typical to the culture.
Notes on Cultural Changes:
Although cultures have developed certain patterns of behaviour, they are not transmitted like hair-looms from generation to generation; instead, they are constantly changing, sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly. The reasons for cultural changes are many fold and complex; they may be brought about by climatic conditions, by exhaustion of natural resources, by technological advances as observed in modem times and even by certain ideologies. Since the behaviour of the individual is shaped by the culture from the time he is born, he is, for most part not aware of the subtle power of cultural influences on him.
However, when he becomes aware of these changes he is faced with the problem of conflict. To illustrate, a person brought up in an orthodox and traditional way of life may resent the modern outlook of the present generation and hence is unable to reconcile himself to the cultural changes.
Notes on Social Structure:
As stated earlier, each culture has its own distinct patterns of behaviour, so also each culture has its own social structure. Every society is interrelated with many types of relations. Social relations may be broadly classified into three headings- (1) Primary social relations, (2) relations of the individual to the group, (3) relations between groups.
Taking the first, direct person-to-person relationships constitute the primary interactions of social life. They are primary because person-to-person relations are the earliest social experiences both in the history of the individual and his group. They are also primary in importance because it is the early parent-child relationship, which largely determines the adult personality.
Regarding the second type of relationship the two processes of social facilitation and social inhibition help to determine the relationship of the individual to his group. In everyday life social facilitation is observed in such obvious cases as people’s eating more and drinking more when in company then when alone.
Experiments have shown that workers turn out more work with others busy at the same type of work than in isolation. Similarly, the same experiments have demonstrated the process of social inhibition.
Thus while the speed and amount of performance increases in a co-acting group, the quality of performance often goes down. Finally, regarding the relations between groups has been shown to be guided by two processes, namely socio-economic interest groups and social participation groups.
Notes on the Status and Role:
In a society much of the structuring arises from differences among people in the goods and services they produce. One person may be engaged in making garments, another in making shoes and the third in controlling the production of the factory. In such a structure we will find that some people are more important to the society than others. In other words, society assigns certain roles for individuals to perform.
In some societies as in India where the society is caste ridden, the social structure is rather rigid, whereas in other societies where class system prevails it is very flexible. In an established society the people are categorized according to differences that are important to meet the needs of society.
Thus society assigns to each person what social scientists call a status-age status, sex status, occupational status, social status etc. Each status is a position representing differences among the people in relation to the exchange of goods and services to satisfy the needs of society.
Different people may occupy a particular status at different times and, their statuses may change from time to time. Each status has a role to perform. It is a pattern of behaviour that a person is expected to exhibit according to a particular status. For instance boys and girls at a very early age learn that different behaviours are expected of them.
A father as the head of the family has a role becoming to his status. Similarly an employer, a teacher and a mother have different roles to play.
The distinction between status and role is as follows:
The former applies to position in the social structure whereas the latter is the behaviour that goes along that position. In a modern society, which has a complex social structure, a person at the same time occupies many statuses and consequently has many roles to perform.
Thus for instance a person is the head of the family, teacher, employee, church member, etc. He, therefore, finds himself in multiple statuses and multiple roles. The status and role are important and basic concepts in understanding social structure.
Notes on Conflict of Roles:
Changes in status put a person in a conflict of roles, and this often happens in a society as complex as ours. He finds that the role he learnt in one status is no longer appropriate in a new status. He becomes uncertain of what role to play and when he is forced to decide he is caught up into a motivational conflict.
The consequence of this conflict may be frustration, anxiety, hostility, and failure to adjust. Many of the problems of the adolescents arise because of the difficulty to adjust to the changing behaviour patterns, that is, roles expected of them as they progress from childhood to adulthood.
Conflicts of roles become very important problems in the lives of some individuals. Thus for instance, in our country inspite of equality guaranteed by the constitution, the schedule caste experiences acute problems with conflict of roles. Inequality, iniquities and segregation in housing, education, temples, business, and in other available services precipitate the schedule caste people into conflicts. Their expectations to rise in social esteem, their striving toward upward mobility as a result of education beyond that of their parents, does not seem to be realized in actuality.
Notes on Social Classes:
In every society, the statuses are arranged on a scale on a scale of prestige. In other words, the people regard some statuses more favourable than others and accordingly wealth, power, respect and honours are given. Research studies have shown that people rank different occupations according to social status.
Occupations like physician, banker, or business manager are ranked very high whereas, clerk or salesman has an intermediate rank, and unskilled factory workers are ranked very low. In our society the scale of prestige becomes the basis of caste system. Each person belongs to one of these four and his membership to a particular caste is indicated by his speech, dress, or some other symbol. Further, each caste is restricted to certain occupations and consequently to certain kinds of social behaviour.
In Western society where the prestige scale is the basis of social classes, the formalization of classes is not so rigid. There is greater class mobility in the sense that a person of a lower class has every opportunity to rise in status and thus come up on the prestige scale.
The social-class system often maintains cultural, economic and social barriers which prevents social participation and thus a great majority of the children of the lower classes are deprived of the opportunity of learning any culture except that of their own group.
Social class system affects individual’s experience such as, how he spends his leisure time, what types of things he considers important, what type of job he will try to get, and how he will perceive others as well as he perceived.
Although social class system seems to be necessary to maintain the social structure, it is not far from inherent defects, which are real hurdles in the way of progress in the way of lower classes or castes.
The social classes not only differ in status but also in the attitudes of their members. This difference in attitudes is clearly seen in the training and education of a child, and in child rearing practices. Middle class parents tend to be stricter than the upper class parents. The working class parents are more likely to use physical punishment to their children than the middle class parents. The higher class people often aspire to business and occupational profession than the lower class people.
Finally, studies have shown that the children from the upper and middle class families tend to have a higher level of achievement motivation than children from the lower class families. It is clear from these differences among different social classes that the attitudes and personalities of the members of different classes differ. They differ in prestige, in attractiveness to others, in freedom to talk, in attitudes and beliefs, in child rearing practices, in educational goals, and even in certain motivations.