Socialization in the study of animal and human behavior is the
process by which
human beings or
learn to adopt the
behavior patterns of the
community in which they live. For both humans and animals, this is
typically thought to occur during the
early stages of life, during which
individuals develop the skills and knowledge necessary to function
environment. However, this also includes adult individuals moving
into an environment significantly different from one(s) in which they
have previously lived and must thus learn a new set of behaviors.
Socialization is, in essence, learning (see Charon, 1987:63-69).
Socialization refers to all learning regardless of setting or age of the
individual. In every group one has to learn the rules, expectations, and
knowledge of that group, whether the group is your family, the army, or the
state (nation). Socialization is the process whereby people acquire a social
identity and learn the way of life within their society. All of this amounts to
the learning of culture.
For some psychologists -- especially those working in the
psychodynamic tradition -- the most important time when socialization occurs
is between the ages of one and ten. Humans learn throughout their lives, but
this first ten years is arguably the most important time in determining the
personality of persons across their life span.
Forms of socialization
Sociologists may distinguish four kinds of socialization:
- Reverse socialization
- Developmental socialization
- Primary socialization
- Anticipatory socialization
deviation from the desired behaviours or enculturation esp. of the younger
Primary socialization is the process whereby people learn the attitudes,
values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular
culture. For example, some Inuits learn to enjoy eating the raw intestines of
birds and fish, while some Chinese people eat Carp's heads and the tripe
(stomach tissue) of pigs (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 98).
Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which
a person "rehearses" for future positions, occupations, and social relationships
(See Appelbaum & Chambliss, 1997:76). Henslin (2004:71) offers the example of a
high school student who, upon hearing he had been accepted to a university,
began to wear college student-type clothes:
- "In his last semester of high school, Michael has received word that
he has been accepted to State University. Soon he begins to dismiss high
school activities as being "too high school," and begins to wear clothing
styles and affect mannerisms that are characteristic of State University
students. Michael is exhibiting signs of anticipatory socialization."
Resocialization refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns
and accepting new ones as part of a transition in one's life. This occurs
throughout the human life cycle (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 113). Resocialization
can be an intense experience, with the individual experiencing a sharp break
with their past, and needing to learn and be exposed to radically different
norms and values. An example might be the experience of a young man or woman
leaving home to join the Marines.
Agents of Socialization
Agents of socialization are people and/or groups that influence self
concepts, emotions, attitudes and behavior of a person. (Henslin, 1999:76-81)
- The Family. The family is the most important of the agents of
socialization. Family is responsible for, among other things, determining
one's attitudes toward religion and establishing career goals.
- The School. The school is the agency responsible for socializing groups
of young people in particular skills and values in our society.
- Peer Groups. Peers refer to people who are roughly the same age and/or
who share other social characteristics (e.g., students in a college class).
- The Mass Media.
- Other Agents: Religion, Work Place, The State.
The term "total institutions" was coined in 1961 by Erving Goffman, designed
to describe a society which is socially isolated but still provides for all the
needs of its members. Therefore, total institutions have the ability to
resocialize people either voluntarily or involuntarily. For example, the
following would be considered as total institutions: prisons, the military,
mental hospitals and convents (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 113).
Goffman lists four characteristics of such institutions:
- All aspects of life are conducted in the same place and under the same
- Each phase of a members daily activity is carried out in the immediate
company of others. All members are treated a like and all members do the
same thing together.
- Daily activities are tightly scheduled. All activity is superimposed
upon the individual by a system of explicit formal rules.
- A single rational plan exists to fulfill the goals of the institution.
Products of socialization
Gender Socialization and Gender Roles
Henslin (1999:76) contends that "an important part of socialization is the
learning of culturally defined gender roles." Gender socialization refers to the
learning of behavior and attitudes considered appropriate for a given sex. Boys
learn to be boys and girls learn to be girls. This "learning" happens by way of
many different agents of socialization. The family is certainly important in
reinforcing gender roles, but so are one’s friends, school, work and the mass
media. Gender roles are reinforced through "countless subtle and not so subtle
Henslin (2004:66) suggests that the fact that parents let their preschool
boys roam farther from home than their preschool girls illustrates the how girls
are socialized to be more dependent.
The process of intentional socialization is central to training animals to be
kept by humans in close relationship with the human environment, including
can be socialized with varying degrees of success. We also have feral children
which are those which are brought up in the wild and savage manner.They are not
animals in this sense of sociological cultural relativism.
For example, the cat
returns readily to a feral state if it has not been socialized properly in its
young life. A feral cat usually fears humans. People often unknowingly own one
and think it is merely "unfriendly."
These cats, if left to proliferate, often become "pests" in populated
neighborhoods by decimating the bird population and digging up people's yards.
Feral cats are sometimes helpful when used in agriculture to keep rodent and
snake populations down. Such cats are often referred to as "barn" cats.
Socializing cats older than six months can be very difficult. It is often
said that they cannot be socialized. This is not true, but the process takes two
to four years of diligent food bribes and handling, and mostly on the cat's
terms. Eventually the cat may be persuaded to be comfortable with humans and the
learn to be feral either from their mothers or through bad experiences. They are
more easily socialized when under six months of age. Socializing is done by
keeping them confined in a small room (ie. bathroom) and handling them for 3 or
more hours each day. There are three primary methods for socialization, used
individually or in combination. The first method is to simply hold and pet the
cat, so it learns that such activities are not uncomfortable. The second is to
use food bribes. The final method is to distract the cat with toys while
handling them. The cat may then be gradually introduced to larger spaces. It is
not recommended to let the cat back outside because that may cause it to revert
to its feral state. The process of socialization often takes three weeks to
three months for a kitten.
Animal shelters either foster feral kittens to be socialized or kill them
outright. The feral adults are usually killed or
due to the large time commitment, but some shelters and vets will
spay or neuter and vaccinate a feral cat and then return it to the wild.
Properly socialized dogs can interact with unfamiliar dogs of any size and shape
and understand how to communicate.
In domesticated dogs,
the process of socialization begins even before the
open. Socialization refers to both its ability to interact acceptably with
humans and its understanding of how to communicate successfully with other dogs.
If the mother is fearful of humans or of her environment, she can pass along
this fear to her puppies. For most dogs, however, a mother who interacts well
with humans is the best teacher that the puppies can have. In addition, puppies
learn how to interact with other dogs by their interaction with their mother and
with other adult dogs in the house.
A mother's attitude and tolerance of her puppies will change as they grow
older and become more active. For this reason most experts today recommend
leaving puppies with their mother until at least 8 to 10 weeks of age. This
gives them a chance to experience a variety of interactions with their mother,
and to observe her behavior in a range of situations.
It is critical that human interaction takes place frequently and calmly from
the time the puppies are born, from simple, gentle handling to the mere presence
of humans in the vicinity of the puppies, performing everyday tasks and
activities. As the puppies grow older, socialization occurs more readily the
more frequently they are exposed to other dogs, other people, and other
Dogs who are well socialized from birth with both dogs and people are much
less likely to be aggressive, to suffer from fear-biting, or to interact
undesirably with either species. They are more likely to be calm and interested
in even the most unusual situations.
| Alpha Roll
| Dog Attack
| Clicker Training
| Dog Collar
| Animal Communication
| Dog Communication
| Crate Training
| Dog Aggression
| Dog Trainer
| Dog Intelligence
| The Intelligence of Dogs
| Obedience School
| Obedience Training
| Operant Conditioning
| Prey Drive
| Dog Society
| Dog Whistle
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