Chapter 3: Socialization Society Makes Us Human How much of our human characteristics come from “nature” (heredity) and how much from “nurture” (the social environment)? Observations of isolated, institutionalized, and feral children help to answer the nature-nurture question, as do experiments with monkeys that were raised in isolation. Language and intimate social interaction – aspects of “nurture” – are essential to the development of what we consider to be human characteristics. Socialization : the process by which people learn the characteristics of their group – the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, norms, and actions thought appropriate for them Feral children : children assumed to have been raised by animals, in the wilderness, isolated from humans Socialization into the Self and Mind How do we acquire a self? Humans are born with the capacity to develop a self, but the self must be socially constructed; that is, its contents depend on social interaction. According to Charles Horton Cooley’s concept of the looking glass self , our self develops as we internalize others’ reactions to us. George Herbert Mead identified the ability to take the role of the other as essential to the development of the self. Mead concluded that even the mind is a social product. Looking-glass self: a term coined by Charles Horton Cooley to refer to the process by which our self develops through internalizing others’ reactions to us Taking the role of the other: putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; understanding how someone else feels and thinks, so you can anticipate how that person will act Significant other: an individual who significantly influences someone else Generalized other: the norms, values, attitudes, and expectations of people “in general”; the child’s ability to take the role of the generalized other is a significant step in the development of one’s self.
How do children develop reasoning skills? Jean Piaget identified four stages that children go through as they develop the ability to reason: (1) sensorimotor , in which understanding is limited to sensory stimuli such as touch and sight; (2) preoperational, the ability to use symbols; (3) concrete operational, in which reasoning ability is more complex but not yet capable of complex abstractions; and (4) formal operational , or abstract thinking. Learning Personality, Morality, and Emotions How do sociologists evaluate Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality development? Sigmund Freud viewed personality as the result of our id (inborn, self-centered desires) clashing with the demands of society. The ego develops to balance the id and the superego, the conscience. Sociologists, in contrast, do not examine inborn or subconscious motivations, but, instead, consider how social factors – social class, gender, religion, education, and so forth – underlie personality.
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