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Socialization is the process through which an individual learns how to behave within a society. Through socialization, people learn the norms of their society and acquire a system of beliefs and values. Individuals pass on social norms and values intergenerationally, helping to maintain their society and culture. As children learn their society's cultural values, roles, and expectations, they develop a sense of self and identity. However, socialization continues to take place throughout an individual's lifetime. Many forces, including family, peers, and media, contribute to socialization. Through the socialization process, people learn to perform various social roles, engaging in behavior based on socially defined expectations of what it means to occupy a certain status or position in society. Social and cultural norms and practices related to gender, race, age, disability, and other factors of identity are also transmitted through the process of socialization. Issues including childhood trauma, social location, and social isolation also influence socialization.

At A Glance

  • Socialization is the lifelong process through which people learn the values, norms, beliefs, and expectations of their society.
  • Charles Cooley's looking-glass self is the idea that people use social reactions from other people to create their conceptions of self and identity.
  • George Herbert Mead’s concept of the self proposes that the self is created through interaction between the I and the me.
  • Agents of socialization are individuals, groups, and institutions that contribute to the formal and informal socialization of members of a society.
  • Social roles are the socially defined expectations of an individual in a given status or occupying a specific social position.
  • Identity is connected to the understandings people hold about who they are and what is meaningful for them.
  • Gender socialization refers to the ways people learn how different genders should behave, based on socially constructed ideas about masculinity and femininity.
  • Socialization and social roles affect individuals throughout every stage of life.
  • Childhood trauma impacts socialization, and these effects can last throughout all stages of life.
  • Social location in society affects a person's trajectory through the stages of the life course.
  • Social isolation can occur for a variety of reasons and can have significant negative impacts on individuals, particularly on children.