Socializing the Individual
Personality is the sum total of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values that are characteristic of an individual. For many years, social scientists have heatedly debated what determines personality and social behavior. Some argue that it is heredity- the transmission of genetic characteristics from parents to children. Others suggest that the social environment- contact with other people- determines personality. This debate is usually referred to in terms of nature versus nurture. Instinct is an unchanging, biologically inherited behavior pattern. Sociobiology is the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior. It consists of heredity, birth order, parental characteristics, the cultural environment. Aptitude is a capacity to learn a particular skill or acquire a particular body of knowledge. Feral children are wild or untamed children. Anna and Isabelle is an example of isolation in childhood and so was Genie. Sociologists have also studied the human development of children living in institutions such as orphanages and hospitals. These children may show some of the characteristics of isolated children.
Socialization is the interactive process through which people learn the basic skills, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns of a society. Your self is your conscious awareness of possessing a distinct identity that separates you and your environment from other members of society. John Locke, an English philosopher from the 1600s, insisted that each newly born human being is a tabula rasa, or clean slate, on which just about anything can be written. Social psychologist Charles Horton Cooley was most noted for developing the idea of the primary group and for his theory explaining how individuals develop a sense of self. The concept of the looking-glass self is central to that theory. The looking-glass self refers to the interactive process by which we develop an image of ourselves based on how we imagine we appear to others. George Herbert Mead said we eventually not only see ourselves as others as others see us but actually take on or pretend to take the roles of others. This act of role-taking forms the basis of the socialization process by allowing us to anticipate what others expect of us. We first internalize the expectations of the people closest to us which are parents, siblings, relatives, and others who have a direct influence on our socialization. These people are now referred to as significant others. Generalized other is the internalized attitudes, expectations, and viewpoints of society. Mead said the self consist of two related parts- the "I" and the "me". The I is the unsocialized, spontaneous, self-interested component of personality and self-identity. The me is the part of ourself that is aware of the expectations and attitudes of society- the socialized self.
Sociologist use the term agents of socialization to describe the specific individuals, groups, and institutions that enable socialization to take place. Children first interact with others and first learn the values, norms, and beliefs of society through their families. Socialization in a family setting can be both deliberate and unintended. As children grow older, forces outside of the family increasingly influence them. In particular, children begin to relate more and more to their peer groups. A peer group is a primary group composed of individuals of roughly equal age and similar social characteristics. For most young people, school occupies large amounts of time and attention. Between the ages of 5 and 18, young people spend some 30 weeks a year in school. The mass media are instruments of communication that reach large audiences with no personal contact between those sending the information and those receiving it. A total institution is a setting in which people are isolated from the rest of society for a set period of time and are subject to tight control. Resocialization involves a break with past experiences and the learning of new values and norms.