The importance of occupation as a socializing influence is eloquently brought out by W.E. Moore, in the following words:
“Of the many roles or roles constellations that the modern adult is called upon to perform, few exceed in importance, the acquisition of requisite skills and attitude for occupation. In modernized societies occupation represents a central place in life organisation, for a vast majority of adult males and substantial minority of females. In temporal terms, occupation is challenged only by the family as the major determinant and locus of behaviour. Were we to limit our comparison to the waking hours, occupation would be the clear winner”.
The importance of occupational socialisation unfortunately was not realised for a long time primarily because research in socialisation was largely concerned with childhood socialisation and the role of the primary groups like the family and the neighbourhood.
Another reason was the belief that the process of socialisation tapers down and ends with the early years. But, with the recognition today that socialisation is a continuous process stretching over the entire life span, the importance of occupational socialisation has come to be recognised.
While occupational socialisation is to a large extent adult socialisation, the roots of this also begin with early childhood. This is very true of simple and primary societies. The tribal child fancies himself as a fisherman and this fancy certainly elaborates and engulfs’ him. This to a large extent is true of modern sophisticated family where many parents make occupational choice of the child.
When we talk of occupational socialisation thus there are two phases of the problem. The first phase is that even as a child the individual goes through an imaginary and anticipatory socialisation in relation to a particular occupation.
A child who wishes to become a doctor or more truly whose parents would like him or her to become a doctor, starts teaming about the medical profession, its values and norms or even lack of these, at a very early age. Of course, the parents also take part in this phase of socialisation, especially if the chosen occupation of the child happens to be the same as that of, either of or both the parents.
The significant phase actually commences after the individual enters into a particular occupation. Here, it is very often a formal process of socialisation as in the case of the professions like medicine or engineering where there is a prolonged formal education followed by on the job socialisation like ‘internship’ ‘apprenticeship’ etc. At this stage the socialisation is both formal and informal. While there is the formal educational process, at the same time, informal socialisation goes on through intimate interactions with other significant adults and models.
Moore goes on to list the following aspects of the job or occupation as important determinants of this process of socialisation. These are, the rank of the job, the skill levels, the social prestige, income level, security, power or authority position, autonomy and mobility.
Each one of these aspects acts as an influencing agent in the process of occupational socialisation. The actual nature of the job whether it involves dealing with people, with ideas, with issues etc. is another factor that can influence the attitudes, behaviour and beliefs of people in particular occupation.
Moore outlines the following stages of occupational socialisation:
a. Career choice and anticipatory socialisation.
b. Selection and socialisation.
c. Continuous involvement and commitment.
d. Internalisation of norms and values.
The process of occupational socialisation in general is covered by the same factors, dynamics and processes as socialisation in general. This also involves a mixture of support and reward processes on the one hand and disapproval and punishment processes on the other. One may say that modelling plays a much more crucial role in occupational socialisation.
This is the reason why that in many organisations there are heroes. Thus the late Henry Ford is still a model in the Ford organisation. In our country the late Sri M. Visweswaraiah is a model for all engineers and in Tamil Nadu the late legendary Dr. Rangachari was a model for all young doctors. General K.M. Cariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of free India, is still a role model for everyone in the Indian armed forces.