Sociology 101
A Look Ahead
How much of a person’s personality is
shaped by culture as opposed to
inborn traits?
In what ways does socialization
continue into adulthood?
Who are the most powerful agents of
Socialization and
the Life Course
Socialization: Lifelong process in which
people learn appropriate attitudes, values,
and behaviors
█ Personality: Person’s
typical patterns of
attitudes, needs,
and behavior
The Role of Socialization
Sociobiology is the systematic study of the
biological bases of social behavior.
In its extreme form, sociobiology suggests that all
behavior is the result of genetic or biological
factors and places little emphasis on social
B.F. Skinner, one of the most famous behaviorists.
 Behaviorists see the individual as a blank slate
that could be written upon through socialization
 Behaviorism asserts that individual behavior is
not determined by instincts but rather, all
behavior is learned.
Instinct – an unlearned, biologically determined
behavior pattern common to all members of a
Reflex - an unlearned, biologically determined,
involuntary response to some physical stimuli.
Drives – unlearned, biologically determined
impulses common to all members of a species
that satisfy needs such as sleep, food, water, or
sexual gratification.
The Role of Socialization
The Influence of Heredity
Studies of Identical Twins
Intelligence tests show similar scores when twins
are reared apart in roughly similar social settings.
Intelligence tests show quite different scores when
twins are reared apart in dramatically different
social settings.
Social Environment:
The Impact of Isolation
Interaction of heredity and environment
shape human development
The Cases of Isabelle and Genie
Emphasizes importance of earliest socialization
experiences for children
Early socialization experiences in normal
environments are important.
Primate Studies
Harlow showed isolation had damaging effect on
The Self and Socialization
Self: Distinct identity that
sets us apart from others
The self is not a static phenomenon
It continues to develop and change
The Self and Socialization
Cooley: Looking-Glass Self
We learn who we are by
interacting with others
Looking-glass self: The self is product of social interactions
with other people
Cooley argued that during interaction humans
serve as mirrors for one another
Our view of ourselves comes from not only our
contemplation of personal qualities, but also
from our impressions of how others perceive us
We base our perception of who we are on how
we think other people see us and on whether
this opinion seems good or bad to us
George Herbert Mead
According to Mead, in the early
months of life, children do not
realize that they are separate from
others .
Shortly after birth, infants start to
notice the faces of those around
Gradually, we distinguish
ourselves from our care givers and
begin to perceive ourselves in
contrast to them
George Herbert Mead
When we begin to represent ourselves in our
own minds as objects distinct from everything
else, our self has been formed.
Mead: Stages of the Self
Preparatory Stage:
Children imitate people
around them
– Symbols: Gestures,
objects, and words that
form basis of human
George Herbert Mead
Preparatory Stage
Up to about the age of 3 kids mimic social
children imitate significant others
They do not yet have a sense of self separate
from others
Mead: Stages of the Self
from about age 3-5
Play Stage: Children develop skill in
communicating through symbols and
role taking occurs
– Role taking:
Process of mentally
assuming perspective
of another and
responding from that
imagined viewpoint
George Herbert Mead
Children learn to use language and other
symbols which enable them to imitate the
actions of others
Learn the roles, not just significant others
including parents, teachers, and schoolmates.
The child at this stage is capable only of play
and cannot yet engage in the organized activity
George Herbert Mead
3. Game Stage
begins in the early school years
children understand not only their own social
position but also the positions of others around
At this stage, organized play, or team games
The significance for the self is that to play these
games the individual must be able to take
multiple roles
George Herbert Mead
Generalized others: Attitudes, viewpoints, and expectations
of society as a whole that a child takes into account
They understand the repercussions of their
behavior and the effect of them on others
anticipate actions of significant and
generalized others
Ervin Goffman: Presentation of the
Impression Management: The
individual slants the presentation
of the self in order to create
distinctive appearances and
satisfy particular audiences
Dramaturgical Approach: People
resemble performers in action
The goal is to create distinctive
appearances and to satisfy
particular audiences.
Erving Goffman
this altering of the presentation of the self
impression management
Goffman argued that roles in life like those in
the theater, have both a stage and a
Face-work is another aspect of the self.
Maintaining the proper image can be
essential to continued social interaction
Psychological Approaches
to the Self
Self is a social product, however, natural
impulsive instincts in constant conflict with
societal constraints
Personality influenced by others (especially
one’s parents)
Psychological Approaches
to the Self
Emphasized stages that humans progress
through as the self develops
Cognitive theory of development identified
4 stages in development of children’s
thought processes
Social interaction key to development
Table 4-1: Theoretical Approaches to
Development of the Self
Key Concepts
and Contributions
Major Points of Theory
Charles Horton Cooley
sociobiologist (USA)
Looking-glass self
Stages of development not distinct;
feelings toward ourselves developed
through interaction with others
George Herbert Mead
sociobiologist (USA)
The self
Generalized other
Three distinct stages of development; self
develops as children grasp the roles of
others in their lives
Erving Goffman
sociobiologist (USA)
Impression management Self developed through the impressions
Dramaturgical approach we convey to others and to groups
Sigmund Freud
psychotherapist (Austria)
Self influenced by parents and by inborn
drives, such as the drive for sexual
Jean Piaget
child psychologist
Four stages of cognitive development;
moral development linked to
Cognitive theory
Socialization and the Life Course
The Life Course
- Socialization continues throughout our
lives. In different cultures stages of
development are marked by specific
Rites of passage are a means of dramatizing
and validating changes in a person’s status.
These specific ceremonies mark stages of
development in the life course.
The Life Course
We encounter some of the most difficult
socialization challenges in later years
Assessing one’s accomplishments
Coping with declining physical abilities
Facing the inevitability of death
Table 4-2: Milestones in the Transition to
Percentage of People Who
View Event as Extremely
Live Event
Expected Age
or Quite Important
Financial independence from
20.9 years
Separate residence from parents
Full-time employment
Completion of formal schooling
Capability of supporting a family
Source: T. W. Smith 2003.
Socialization and the Life Course
Anticipatory Socialization and Resocialization
Two types of socialization occur throughout the
life course
Anticipatory Socialization - The processes of
socialization in which a person “rehearses” for future
occupations and social relationships
Resocialization: The process of discarding former
behavior patterns and accepting new ones as part of a
transition in one’s life
Agents of Socialization
Role of family in socializing a child cannot
be overestimated
Cultural Influences
The Impact of Race and Gender
Gender Roles: expectation regarding
proper behavior, attitudes, and activities of
males and females
Agents of Socialization
Schools teach children the values and customs of
the larger society.
Schools have traditionally socialized children into
conventional gender roles.
Agents of Socialization
Peer Group
As children grow older, peer groups increasingly
assume the role of Mead’s significant others.
Peer groups can ease the transition to adult
Peer groups can encourage children to honor or
violate cultural norms and values.
Peer groups can be a source of harassment as
well as support.
Agents of Socialization
Mass Media and Technology
53 percent of all children ages 12 to 18 have their
own televisions.
Television permits imitation and role playing but
does not encourage more complex forms of
Technology is socializing families into multitasking
as the social norm.
Figure 4-2: How Young People
Use the Media
Source: Rideout et al. 2005:7.

Socialization - Fullerton College Staff Web Pages