ges of socialisation-Primary
The main most important component in primary socialisation is the family.
Children learn through imitation, some examples of this are movements, words, the way they walk.
We learn this in the early years of our childhood from our parents, family and siblings.
Infants and children also learn rights and wrongs in life and consequences and awards for what they
do. Such as we learn to eat with a knife and fork properly and not mess around with food. For doing
correct things we may get rewarded with a new toy and for doing something incorrect we may be
sent to our bedroom.
Actions made by immediate family, family friends and siblings provide children with guide lines for
actions. We may learn play with certain toys, or how to act in a certain place and around certain
Close social relationships with other people are important in order for children to learn to interact
and communicate. If children do not learn these skills it may be hard for them to grow up in society
and therefore may be hard to interact with others.
Children who have been raised by wild animals (known as feral children) have less of a chance at
being able to talk and communicate so therefore will not be able to socialise. This minimises the
chance of the child being able to talk and sometimes even the chance of the child acting like a
Baumeister (1986) notes that family socialisation provides children with an identity. A baby has no
life apart from its role in the family, therefore a child will believe that the family will love and care
for it as long as it does what it is supposed to do.
Morgan (1996) suggests that a great deal of socialisation is concerned with social control and
encouraging conformity (a social influence in behaviour or belief in order to fit in with a group).
Sanctions encourage a conscience in a child which will help them learn what is right and wrong and
will help them in growing up. However sanctions and wrong and rights will change as a child gets
older and moves into secondary socialisation.
Morgan suggests that the function of toilet training is to teach the child some sense of bodily
control. This will help a child develop and understand that they will need this skill in the future to
be able to be accepted in society.
Children will also learn what a boy or a girl entails. Culture expectations will regard femininity and
masculinity and therefore the children will need to learn the traditional gender roles.
‘Becoming a human is not
just about being born. It’s all about becoming a social being which happens through
interaction between the child and those around it’ George Mead 1863
In sociology primary socialisation is the acceptance and learning of a set of norms and
values established through the process of socialization. Typically this is initiated by the
Close social relationships with other people are essential in order for children to learn how
to interact and communicate
These process class us as ‘social beings’
Children learn to function as good and useful citizens in their community
Is the outcome of what happens when a human being neglects a child
They have no human contact, interaction or communication with other beings; therefore
they are not classed as a social being.
Whilst some have had little contact with humans, others have been raised up by animals
They have no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behaviour, and crucially,
of human language
Socialisation and identity
Identity refers to the understandings people hold about who they are and what is
meaningful to them.
Stages of socialisation
Social identity refers to the characteristics that other people attribute to an individual, and
it is our social identity that connects us to the people around us. They are the markers that
indicate, at a very basic level, who we are.
Baumeister (1986) says family socialisation provides children with an identity
Young children have no life except its family role
Social roles are and the significant roles and are played by the parents
Socialisation and social control
Morgan (1996) suggests that a great deal of socialisation is concerned with social control
and encouraging conformity.
The most common and basic form of primary socialisation is praise and punishment.
Parents will reward ‘good’ behaviour with treats and ‘bad’ behaviour with sanctions.
These treats can be physical or emotional; often children will accept the treat on the basis
of the task that has been provided. Sanctions will vary according to the severity of the
deviance. This will teach a child the right from wrongs
Sanctions shape a person’s moral beings more than any other type of primary socialisation.
The implements of sanctions show a child how to treat people in different situations
Treats and praise will show a child that’s just as they are rewarded for doing right by them,
society will also reward them for positive behaviour
Primary socialisation from a
Functionalist and Marxist perspective.
FUNCTIONALISTS AND PRIMARY SOCIALISATION
Functionalists Like Parsons see the family as a personality factor
The child is seen as a blank slate at birth.
The function of parents is to train and mould the passive child in the image of
The child should be filled with shared cultural values, so that it assumes that cultural
values are naturally its own values
This would make sure the child is part of value consensus, and so feels like they
belong in society
The Marxist Theory of Education as an agent of
MARXISTS AND PRIMARY SOCIALISATION
Marxists are critical of the functionalist view that children are socialised into shared and
cultural values and norms.
Zaretsky (1976) argues that the family is used by the capitalist class to instil values that
are useful to the ruling class such as obedience and respect for authority.
These values ensure that individuals can be exploited later in life by the ruling class.
For example they are taught that power authority and inequality should be viewed as
normal and natural.
Marxists believe that primary socialisation in the family depends on which class the
family is in.
The Marxist Theory of Education
as an agent of Secondary
Contrasting perspective on Marxist view
of Education (functionalism)
Louis Althusser (1971) as well as other
Education is another way in which the ruling
class ideology produces a hidden curriculum-
(the invisible ways in which schools encourage
conformity) and make people submit to the
organization of capitalism.
Functionalists see education as passing on shared values
in order to produce conformity and consensus.
Education links an individual to society by past and
present in human history, exposing them to historical and
religious achievements within their society. This
reinforces the essence of belonging to society.
He believed that education socialises working
class children into accepting their subordinate
status to the middle class.
Durkheim views education as an entity creating social
Connor and Dewson (2001)
-Only one in five higher education students
came from a working class background. This
partly reflects their low grades at GCSE and 'A'
Level, but also that there are a number of
students from working class backgrounds who
have the necessary qualifications but opt not
to continue to higher education. This supports
Marxist ideas that the education system is
elitist (the belief that society should be
governed by a select group of gifted and highly
Davis and Moore
- They believed that education selects talented
individuals and allocates them to the most
important roles in society. Higher rewards for jobs
such as GP’s and pilots encourage competition.
Davis and Moore believe that education sifts and
sorts according to ability
In a capitalist society, he sees education taking
over as the main agency of social control.
Education reproduces the attitudes and
behaviour for divisions of labour. It teaches
students how to accept their position, to be
exploited, and to show the rulers how to
control the workforce.
Education helps maintain society by socialising young
people into values of achievement, competition and
equality of opportunity. Skills provision is also important:
education teaches the skills for the economy. For
example, literacy, numeracy and IT for particular
occupations. Role allocation is all part of this: education
allocates people to the most appropriate jobs for their
talents, using examinations and qualifications.
The national curriculum (introduced in 1988)
apparently cut off Sociology, Politics and
Economics from mainstream education
because the ruling class believed students
would become too critical about class
inequality as they build understanding into
Subjects such as history, language and religious
education are applauded in the idea that an individual
has understanding of what their society has achieved.
Functionalists Theory of
Religion as an agent of
Main sociologist associated Durkheim (1912)
Major function of Religion is to socialise society’s members into value
consensus teaching certain values with sacred quality.
He states that this is done by infusing them with religious symbolism.
These values them become “moral codes”– beliefs that society agrees to
socialise children into, the codes regulate our social behaviour.
The Ten Commandments are an example of moral codes.
The Ten commandments influence both;
Formal Controls- Laws; “thou shalt not commit murder”
Informal Controls- Moral Disapproval; “thou shalt not commit adultery”
Marxists Theory of Religion as an agent of Secondary Socialisation
Marxists describe religion as an Ideological State Apparatus (ISA)that
serves to reflect ruling class ideas and interests.
According to Marxists religion socialises the working class into three sets
of false idea’s;
Material successis a sign of God’s favour compared to poverty being
interpreted as being caused by wickedness, sin and immorality.
Religious teachings and the emphasis on blind faith serve to distract the
poor and powerless from the true extent of their exploitationby the ruling
Religion makesexploitation,poverty and inequality bearable by promising
a reward in the afterlife for the ones who accept suffering or poverty.
The Mass Media as an Agent of
What is MASS MEDIA?
Mass media is a form of communication
What is the PURPOSEof mass media?
It is used as a guide to make sense of the
world around them
It provides us with role models and designs
that we use to fashion our identity
It is used to structure how and what we
The Marxist theory is critical of mass media because they believe it’s responsible for mass culture.
A sociologist known as Marcuse theorised popular culture has a negative effect on culture, also Marsh and
Keating (2006) stated ‘popular culture is a false culture devised a packaged by capitalism to keep the masses
content’. Popular culture in the view of Marxism is perceived as a lie as it encourages false needs of an
individual, as they are torn between wants and needs, as they feel they need materialistic things. Therefore
emphasising how we are under false class consciousness, created by the organisation of capitalism.
What do the MARXISTS say?
Steve Barnett argued that media output in the UK
that contained quality drama, documentaries and
serious news coverage have gone into decline and
have been replaced with a dumb down content.
Creating light entertainment such as reality TV
shows. He believes were being socialized into not
being able to think for ourselves
The Functionalist perspective of the Mass Media
The functionalist perspective emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are
structured to maintain stability (Schaefer, 2009). Mass media plays important roles in our
everyday life. In addition to providing entertainment, news, and education, media products
are also used to socialize and market. As a daily routine, many people today make use of
mass media tools for various reasons such as socializing, gathering data, sharing information,
Lasswell claimed that the media performed four basic functions for society: surveying the
environment to provide news and information; correlating response to this information
(editorial function); entertaining (diversion function); and transmitting culture to future
generations (socialisation function) (Lull, 2000, p. 111). American sociologist Charles R.
Wright (1959) took Lasswell’s view of media functions further by outlining manifest and
latent (not apparent or unintended) functions as well as dysfunctions of mass media
communication. Wright proposed that when the media alerted the public to a health risk, for
instance, it was serving its news and information function, but if a public panic was created,
this was a dysfunction.
Macnamara, J. R. (2003).
The media have other important functions. They also socialize us, enforce social norms,
confer status, and promote consumption. An important dysfunction of the mass media is that
they may act as a narcotic, desensitizing us to distressing events (Lazarsfeld and Merton
1948; C. Wright 1986).
The media operate in the public interest by reflecting the interests of the audience. It portrays
public opinion. The media understands that society has a wide diversity of culture and this is
shown by the different amounts of stories it covers.
What do the FUNCTIONALIST
THE PEER GROUP
Peer groups are people of similar status who regularly have contact with each other
whether its social related or work related, therefore peer groups consist of
friendships, networks, school subcultures and occupational subcultures such as work
The majority of adolescent behaviour and attitudes are influenced by peer groups.
Teenagers will have a desire to be more independent, this will cause a conflict with
their parents. Usually these conflicts will be regarding choices of friendships and
Radical changes in adolescents in terms of behaviours
and image may be a result of peer pressure to fit in with
fellow peers. Some teenagers may feel like they need to
involve themselves in deviant behaviour like taking
drugs and having underage sexing order to be accepted by other teenagers.
Negative sanctions such as gossiping, Chinese rumours and bullying may be taken
upon those adolescents whom do not participate in socially rejected behaviour,
leading them to act in a delinquent manner.
PEER GROUP AND YOUNG ADULTHOOD
Some sociologists specifically sue heath (2004); suggest that friendship network have
become increasingly important as factors of socialisation in the period known as
‘young adult hood’.
Cote(2000) suggest that in young adult hood peer groups or friendship networks
eventually become more important than relationships with parents as a source of
knowledge about how to live one’s life.
OCCUPATIONAL PEER GROUPS
Work places are important sources of peer group relationships. An individuals
experiences at work teaches us not only skills and work discipline but also informal
rules that underpin work i.e. the tricks of the trade.
They may also be influenced by our membership of more formal work based
organisations to behave in particular ways.
For example, membership of a trade union may produce a collectivist outlook, in
which the person puts the interests of the group before their individual interests,
whereas membership of a professional organisation such as the Law Society or the
British Medical Association will make clear how a professional person should behave
CRITICISMS OF THE CONCEPT OF SOCIALISATION
Socialisation may not be as straightforward or positive as some accounts have
Not all adults acquire the skills that are required to nurture children towards
adulthood; as a result, such poor parenting may unfortunately result in neglect
or child abuse.
Other commentators have suggested that childhood socialisation is not as
effective as it was in the past. Postman (1982) suggests that childhood is a
much shorter period today compared with 50 years ago and bemoans
children’s loss of innocence, which he sees as the result of overexposure to sex
and violence in the media.
Palmer (2007) also notes the negative influence of TV and computer games,
and argues that parents all too often use these as a substitute for spending
quality time interacting with their children. As a result of this children today
are less likely to be socialised into important moral codes of behaviour.
Phillips (1997) argues that children have too many rights today and claims that
they have used these to resist parental power, so undermining socialisation.
She suggests that the antisocial behaviour associated with young people today
is a direct result of parents being too content not to take responsibility for
their children’s upbringing.
Many accounts of socialisation portray it as a one-way process – the child
being a vessel waiting to be filled up with the wisdom of its parents. However
interpretivist sociologists point out that socialisation is a two-way process and
that parenting itself is a learning process.
PRIMARY SOCIALISATION SECONDARY
People or groups that
affect our self-concept,
attitudes, behaviours or
The process whereby the
people make a child learn
the attitudes, values and
actions appropriate to
individuals as members of
a particular culture
The process of learning
what is appropriate
behaviour as a member of
a smaller group within the
The processes in which a
person ‘rehearses’ for
occupations and social
RESOCIALISATION TOTAL INSTITUTION NORMS VALUES
The process of discarding
patterns and accepting
new ones as part of a
transition in one’s life.
A place in which people
are cut off from the rest
of society and are almost
totally controlled by the
people that run the place
Informal rules that govern
Ideas and beliefs that
people have about what is
desirable and worth
SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT FERAL CHILDREN SOCIALISATION GENDER SOCIALISATION
The entire human
direct contact with others
Children assumed to have
been raised by animals in
the wilderness isolated
The process by which
someone learns the
culture, norms, laws and
values of society
The ways in which society
sets children into
different courses in life
because they are male or
PEER GROUP MASS MEDIA GENDER ROLE SOCIAL INEQUALITY
A group of individuals of
roughly the same age who
are linked by common
Forms of communication,
such as radio, newspapers
and TV that are directed
to mass audiences
A socially agreed way of
behaving according to
your biological sex
A social condition which
are given to some but
denied to others
MORES SANCTIONS FORMAL SOCIAL
considered taboo or
Rewards or punishments
for accepting or breaking
When the rule of society
are expressed in law or
rules and backed up by
expectations of behaviour
SOCIETY SOCIAL CONTROL INSTINCT
People acting in a
particular set of social
roles who share a set of
common ideas about the
People who don't learn
the expectations and
values of society are
punished in some way
Action which is genetically
programmed into our
STUDY – EXAM QUESTIONS
1) Explain what sociologists mean by ‘primary socialisation’ (Item A) (2 marks)
2) Give one example of a positive sanction and one example of a negative sanction
3) Identify three agents of socialisation other than those mentioned in Item A (6 marks)
4) Using information from Item B and elsewhere, assess sociological theories of
socialisation (24 marks)
Socialisation is a process of learning how society expects us to behave. It begins in the
family with primary socialisation, but other agencies of socialisation become more
important later. Socialisation is an on-going process that continues throughout our
entire lives as our circumstances and social position change. For example, when we
start a new job, we may need to learn new skills, rules and routines. Socialisation
teaches us how to fit in and enables us to interact with others by equipping us with the
norms and values shared by those with whom we have to cooperate.
However, socialisation is not the only factor ensuring that we ‘fit in’. Social control, in
the form of positive and negative sanctions, also plays a part in keeping us on the path
The primary agency of socialisation has always been the family, but pressures on
parenting may be reducing the effectiveness of this particular child-rearing institution.
Although the first few years of a person’s life are crucial to learning how to behave, it is
important to understand that socialisation is a life-long process. This is because humans
are social animals who live in complex and sophisticated societies based on detailed
values, norms, rules and traditions. Sociologists also note the existence of a range of
secondary agents of socialisation that build on what has been learned during primary
socialisation in order to help the child take their place in wider society.