To some extent, we accept the definitions of ourselves that we are taught by our families and other members of our society.
Cooley decided that a person comes to think of himself or herself as an 'I' through a combination of biological and social processes.The looking glass self is the image of self that a person sees reflected by others.
Mead believes people take the role of the other by progressing through three stages. In stage I the infant is all "I". The "me" begins to develop through play in stage II and fully develops as the child learns to respond to the generalized other in stage III, taking into account the broader social community. Significant others or persons with whom an individual has intimate and long term contact facilitate this process. This self-awareness makes it possible for people to position themselves within larger social units.
Goffman points out that the socialization process continues into adulthood. He discusses for instance, impression management, or how in daily activity we alter ourselves to fit the audience we are addressing, a process made up of thousands of small every day social responses.
Sociobiology introduced by Edward Wilson is the systematic study of the biological basis of social behavior in every kind of organism. Wilson believes that human social behavior rests on a genetic foundation. His ideas have created controversy because they could conceivably be used to promote racist and sexist policies.
Socialization occurs through explicit instruction, conditioning and innovation and role modeling. In practice, these modes are usually blended.
The socialization process tends to be general rather than specific, calls forth automatic behaviors and responses and persists through time.
The family, peer groups, television, day care and schools are today's basic agents of socialization. Conflict theorists point out that these agents can be thought of as agents of domination because they may use their position to perpetuate an unequal power situation and to dominate the one being socialized.
Erikson presented an eight stage theory of personality development in which each stage may be positively resolved or unresolved. He stressed that the close interaction between the social environment and personality.Piaget suggests that everyone passes through four major intellectual stages: Sensory-motor, preoperational, concrete operations and formal operations. He believes that social contact is necessary for advancing through the stages. Kohlberg: Moral decisions based on fear of punishment, idea of rewards taken into account, immediate punishments and rewards not necessary, strict adherence to rules, recognition that conventional rules may come into conflict with a higher sense of right and wrong and universal principles of justice, human rights and human dignity guide decisions. Gilligan: When women reach the upper stages of moral development their decisions are guided by the principle of protecting relationships and people rather than by the principle of individual rights that guides mens' decisions.
Socialization in adulthood is more concerned with learning overt norms and behaviors than is the socialization of childhood which is concerned primarily with regulating antisocial behavior.Levinson's work suggests that successfully completing the transitions between our life stages is of crucial importance in leading a fulfilling life.Resocialization may occur in adulthood when an individual commits himself or herself to a new goal or enters a total institution.
Society as a whole may encourage or discourage the development of individual characteristics. A genius can grow in a social group more easily if the intellectual atmosphere of the group nurtures genius.Nisbet urges that we protect our social setting to provide experiences that foster the growth of genius in our society.