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What is Socialisation?
Socialisation is an important process for the functioning and continuation of society. Different societies have different ways and methods to train their newborn members so that they are able to develop their own personalities.
This training and building the personality of the child is called socialisation. Socialisation is a process of learning the rules, habits and values of a group to which a person belongs whether it is family, friends, colleagues or any other group.
It is the process by which a child slowly becomes aware of her/himself as a member of a group and gains knowledge about the culture of the family and also the society into which she/he is born. Socialisation is also considered as the passing of culture from one generation to the next.
During the process of socialisation, children learn about their family traditions from their elders and preserve them and pass them on to the next generation as they grow older.
Socialisation helps children to learn and perform the different roles and responsibilities which they have learnt from their elders. It, therefore, helps to associate one generation with the others (Giddens, 2006; Jonson, 1960).
Some Definitions of Socialisation i) Anthony Giddens: “Socialisation refers to the process which transforms a quite helpless human infant into a self-aware, knowledgeable person who is skilled in the ways of their society’s culture” (2014:263-64). ii) Peter Worsley:”By this is meant, simply, the transmission of culture, the process whereby men learn the rules and practices of social groups.
Socialisation is an aspect of all activity within all human societies” (1972:153). iii) Tony Bilton: “The process by which we acquire the culture of the society into which we are born the process by which we acquire our social characteristics and learn the ways of thought and behaviour considered appropriate in our society – is called socialisation” (1981:10).
TYPES OF SOCIALISATION
Socialisation is a process that continues throughout life from birth till adulthood. However, there are different phases in which the process takes place. These phases are usually spread across different age groups and have been categorised as different types of socialisation.
Primary socialisation is the most important feature in the process of socialisation. It happens during infancy and childhood. The primary stage basically takes shape during infancy and childhood when basic knowledge and language or behaviour is taught.
This phase of socialisation usually takes place within the family. During this phase, infants learn language and certain basic Socialisation behaviour forms of the family and the society in which she/he lives. It is through primary socialisation that the foundations for later learning are laid.
As Frønesargues, “Primarysocialisation refers to the internalization of the fundamental culture and ideas of a society; it shapes the norms, values and beliefs of the child at a time when it has little understanding of the world and its different phenomena, and the basic socialisation agent moulding the child is the family” (Frønes, 2016: 13).
Secondary Socialisation occurs once the infant passes into the childhood phase and continues into maturity. During this phase more than the family some other agents of socialisation like the school and friends’ group begin to play a role in socialising the child.
Different kinds of social interaction through these different agents of socialisation help the child to learn the moral standards, customs and principles of their society and culture.
Whenthe child receives training in institutional or formal settings such as the school, secondary socialisation takes shape. This levelruns parallel to primary socialisation. But, unlike the family settings, children in schools are trained to conform toauthority.
Frønesargues that, secondary socialisation is usually carried out by institutions and people in specific roles and positions.
Further, it involves the “acquisition of knowledge and conscious learning, and thus opens for critical reflection, while primary socialisation points to the transmission of naturalised cultural patterns”
Gender socialisation can be understood as the process by which different agents of socialisation shape the thoughts of children and make them learn different gender roles.
According to the World Health Organisation, Gender “refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men.” Gender role refers to “social roles assigned to each sex and labelled as masculine or feminine”(Giddens, 2014: 82).
Much before children begin to know themselves as a male or a female they receive a series of clues from adults in their family and society because male and female adults have different ways of managing infants. Infants learn quite a lot from visual and symbolic indicators.
Differences in the manner of dressing, hairstyle, and different cosmetic products used by men and women, provide children with indicators of variation between the male and females. Within two years of age, children begin to vaguely understand what gender is.
Apart from adults around them, children receive a lot of clues about gender roles and differences from television programmes, toys they play with as well as from their colouring and picture books.
For example, a baby girl is very commonly seen playing with dolls and/or a kitchen set while a boy would be found playing with toy cars and/or toy guns.
However, today the definition of gender is no longer fixed within the binary of male and female because there is a third category which is often referred to as the third gender.
The term third gender is assigned to a person by society or by the person her/himself when one does not want be recognised as a male or a female. In some societies where three or more genders are recognised, we can find the use of the term third gender.
This is usually associated with the gender role that a person performs and in some societies, the gender roles are not very strictly defined. The term third gender is often used to describe hijras in the context of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
More recently the term third gender is also associated with the term Queer wherein any person not willing to be strictly identified as male or female may be categorised as a Queer person (Towle and Morgan, 2002).
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