Looking Ahead

Unit four presents the lifelong socialization process through which we acquire culture and are introduced to social structure. It examines the role of socialization in human development. It begins by analyzing the debate over the relative influence of heredity and environment factors. Particular attention is given to how people develop perceptions, feelings and beliefs about themselves. The unit explores the lifelong nature of the socialization process as well as important agents of socialization, among them the family, the school, peer groups, the media and the workplace.

Learning Objectives

After studying this unit you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • 1. What would happen if a child were reared in total isolation from other people?
  • 2. Will identical twins show similarities in personality traits, behavior and intelligence if reared apart?
  • 3. How do we come to develop self-identity?
  • 4. What stages of socialization do wc pass through during the life cycle?
  • 5. How do the family, the peer group, the mass media and the workplace contribute to the socialization process?
  • 6. Can you employ your own experience or the experience of your parents and other «significant others» in speaking on socialization and self-identity?


Each culture has a unique character which shapes the values and behavior of its members. Socialization is the process whereby people learn the attitudes, values and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture. Socialization occurs through human interactions. We will, of course, learn a great deal from those people most important in our lives — immediate family members, best friends, teachers and so forth. But we also learn from people we see on the street, on television and in films and magazines. Through interacting with people as well as through our own observations, we discover how to behave «properly» and what to expect from others if we follow or challenge society’s norms and values.

Socialization affects the overall cultural practices of a society and it also shapes the image that we hold of ourselves. In this sense, socialization experiences can have an impact on the shaping of people’s personalities. In everyday speech, the term personality is used to refer to a person’s typical patterns of attitudes, needs, characteristics and behavior.

All researchers would agree that both biological inheritance and the process of socialization play a role in human development. There is no consensus, however, regarding the relative importance of these factors, which can lead to what is called the «nature versus nurture» (or «heredity versus environment») debate. We can more easily contrast the impact of heredity and environment if we examine situations in which one factor operates almost entirely without the other.

Specialists have studied cases where children have been locked away, or severely neglected, or raised in isolation and in these cases the consequences of social isolation have proved to be greatly damaging because the children reacted and behaved like wild animals. Despite their physical and cognitive potential to learn, it was very difficult to adapt them to human relationships and socialization.

Nowadays researchers are increasingly emphasizing the importance of early socialization experiences for humans that grow up in normal environments. It is now recognized that it is not enough to care for an infant’s physical needs, parents must also concern themselves with children’s social environment. If children are discouraged from having friends, they will be deprived of social interactions with peers that may be critical in their emotional growth.

The isolation studies discussed above may seem to suggest that inheritance can be dismissed as a factor in the social development of humans. However, the interplay between heredity and environment factors is evident in the fascinating studies involving pairs of twins reared apart and brought up separately. Two genetically identical persons developed quite different personalities and political and cultural values because of their differing socialization experiences. Certain characteristics, such as the twins temperaments, voice patterns and nervous habits appear to be strikingly similar. But there are far greater differences between the twins’ attitudes, values, types of mates chosen and even drinking habits. These studies have found marked similarities in their tendency toward leadership or dominance, but significant differences in their need for intimacy, comfort and assistance.

Researchers have also been impressed by the following fact: usually twin pairs brought up together have similar scores on intelligence tests. At the same time identical twins brought up in dramatically different social environments score quite differently on intelligence tests.

This finding indicates that, on the one hand, both genetic factors and socialization are influential in human development but, on the other hand, it supports the great impact of socialization on development.

We al) have various perceptions, feelings and beliefs about who we are and what we are like. Many sociologists and psychologists have expressed interest in how the individual develops and modifies the sense of self because of social interaction.

There are different sociological approaches to the self. In the early 1900s the sociologists advanced the belief that we learn who we are by interacting with others, that our view of ourselves comes not only from our personal qualities but also from our impressions how others perceive us.

Other scientists introduced the theory of the self which proposes that, as people mature, their selves change and begin to reflect great concern about the reactions of others. They used the phrase «significant others» to refer to those individuals who are most important in the development of the self. Parents, friends, co-workers, coaches and teachers are often among those who play a major role in shaping a person’s self.

Contemporary sociologists have used the interaction approach to show that many of our daily activities involve attempts to convey impressions of who we are. We learn to create distinctive appearances and to satisfy particular audiences. People very often blunder in their daily activities but we tend to ignore their mistakes. Therefore, the sound of a stomach rumbling in a quiet room is almost always ignored. This polite behavior is intended to save face. And to maintain the proper image we often initiate face-saving behavior.

This sociological approach of the contemporary social scientists represents a logical progression of the sociological efforts begun by the sociologists of the past. The former stressed the process by which we come to view ourselves and how we learned to interact with others, the latter emphasize the ways in which we consciously create images of ourselves for others.


I. Read and translate the text using a dictionary if necessary.

II. And in the text the English equivalents of the following:

уникальный, правильный (соответствующий), происходить через взаимодействия людей, через наши собственные наблюдения, следовать нормам и ценностям общества (нарушать), воздействовать на, полный (общий), опыт (переживание), биологическая наследственность, наследие, окружение, почти полностью, следствие, наносить ущерб, познавательный потенциал, подчеркивать важность, сейчас признано, заботиться о физических потребностях ребенка, проявлять интерес к общественному развитию детей, не поощрять какое-либо действие, быть лишенным чего-либо, сверстники, взаимосвязь, воспитывать отдельно (2), генетический, быть удивительно похожим (сходным), заметное сходство, значительное различие, умственное развитие, значительно отличающийся, с одной стороны... с другой стороны, проявлять интерес к, в начале 1900-х, выдвигать утверждение, ощущать (осознавать), взрослеть, сотрудники, играть главную роль, создавать впечатление, создавать определенный вид (облик), удовлетворять аудиторию, делать промах, иметь склонность, не замечать ошибки, представлять логическое продолжение, делать акцент, подчеркивать (выделять), создавать образ, первый... последний, спасти (сохранить) репутацию (престиж).

III. Supplythe missing words or word combinations choosing among those given below.

1) Each culture has a ... character which ... the values and behavior of its members. 2) We learn ... from the people most important in our lives. 3) Through interacting with people ... through our own observations we discover how to behave properly. 4) We learn what to expect from others if we ... or ... society’s norms and values. 5) Socialization experiences can ... on the shaping of people’s personalities. 6) There is no ... regarding the relative importance of these factors in human development. 7) The consequences of social isolation have proved to be greatly .... 8) Children ... in isolation very often react.... 9)... their physical and cognitive potential it is very difficult ... them to human relationships. 10) Nowadays researchers are ...emphasizing the importance of early socialization experience for humans. 11) It is not enough ... children’s needs; parents must also ... with their social development. 12) Children should not be ... from having friends. 13) Inheritance should not be ... as a factor in the social development of humans. 14) The ... between heredity and environment is evident. 15) Two ... identical persons develop quite different personalities. 16) Certain ... appear to be ... similar. 17) Identical twins brought up in ... different social... score differently on ... . 18) Many sociologists have ... in how the individual develops and ... a sense of self. 19) In ... the sociologists ... that we learn who we are by interacting with others. 20) Other sociologists ... of the self. 21) The so-called ... play a ... role in shaping a person’s self. 22) People very often ... in their daily activities. 23) This polite behavior is intended .... 24)... we often initiate ....

to maintain the proper image, face-saving behavior, to save face, blunder, «significant others», major, introduced the theory, the early 1900s, advanced the belief, expressed an interest, modifies, dramatically, environments, intelligence tests, characteristics, strikingly, genetically, interplay, dismissed, discouraged, to care for, concern themselves, increasingly, despite, to adapt, raised, like wild animals, damaging, consensus, have an impact, follow, challenge, as well as, a great deal, unique, shapes.

IV. Studythe fol lowing word combinations and use them in sentences of your own:

appropriate to smb, to learn a great deal from, and so forth, to affect smb, to shape an image, to refer to, both ... and, regarding smth, to be severely neglected, to be raised in isolation, to adapt smth to smth, to care for, to concern oneself with, to discourage smb from doing smth, to be deprived of, to be reared apart, to be brought up, to develop a personality, because of, to appear to be strikingly similar, far greater, to find marked similarities, to find significant differences, to have different scores on intelligence tests, to score quite differently on intelligence tests, on the one hand ... on the other hand.


I. Reread the text and answer the following questions.

1) Through what processes does socialization occur and shape people’s personalities? 2) In what way do we discover how to behave properly and what to expect from others? 3) What two factors play a role in human development? 4) What is a critical point in the «nature versus nurture» debate? 5) How can we contrast the impact of heredity and environment on human development? 6) Why are researchers increasingly emphasizing the importance of early socialization experiences for humans nowadays? 7) Why can’t we dismiss inheritance as a factor in the social development of humans? 8) What interesting research has been done to prove that both the biological and the sociological factors play a very important role in human development? 9) What sociological approaches to the self-identity do you know? Can you comment on each of them? 10) How can you prove that all these sociological approaches represent a logical progression?

II. Define the following key terms and memorize the definitions:

socialization, personality, inheritance (heredity), environment, selfidentity.

III. Speak on socialization and self-identity in brief and illustrate your report withsituations and examples of your own.

IV. Comment on the studycases described in the text. Can you give anyother examples toprove that bothsocialization and inheritance play a veryimportant role in shaping personalityand self?

V. Describe the experiences of your childhood. Did your parents care only for your physical needs or did they concern themselves with your social development? Can you saythatyou were not deprived of social interactions withyour peers? Did your parents always approve of your choice of mates?

VI. Imagine that you are asked tomake a speechon socialization and self-identityat a parents’ meeting in your former school. Outline the points you are going tospeak on at your report and develop the ideas in front of your group-mates.

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