Definition of Socialization
(noun) The lifelong process of an individual or group learning the expected norms and customs of a group or society through social interaction.
Example of Socialization
- Children are socialized by their parents who teach them acceptable behavior in certain social situations such as not talking in movies and respecting their elders.
Types of Socialization
- American English – /soh-shuh-luh-zAY-shuhn/
- British English – /soh-shuh-lie-zAY-shuhn/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˌsoʊʃələˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/
- British English – /ˌsəʊʃl̩ʌɪˈzeɪʃn/
- Plural: socializations
- Socialization typically relates to children, but socialization is continual as an individual or group adapts to other individuals or groups, roles, and situations.
- Socialization can be intentional (anticipatory socialization) or unintentional and formal or informal.
- Agents of socialization include family, mass media, peer groups, and schools.
- Socialization is similar to enculturation. The distinction between the two is socialization is learning societal norms, and enculturation is learning cultural norms; however, neither process occurs independent of the other. Socialization typically refers to children and is formal or deliberate, enculturation typically refers to “people” in general and is informal.
- Some sources list acculturation, enculturation, and socialization as synonyms, while these terms are similar and easily confused, they are not synonyms in an academic context.
- Variant spelling: socialisation
- People (verb) socialize themselves and others by (verb) socializing with other (noun) socializers in order to become (noun) socialized.
- “Biological models for understanding human behavior rely on the idea that innate biological differences between males and females ‘program’ distinct social behaviors for men and women. This is called biological determinism. Socially based frameworks, such as those coming from the fields of cultural anthropology or sociology, look at variations in behaviors and gender attributes. These approaches highlight the socialization process that teaches boys and girls to live up to the expectations for their respective genders. Either approach on its own—biology or socialization, nature or nurture—is inadequate for explaining complex human beings and why we do what we do” (Tarrant 2009:67).
- “Social life derives from a dual source, the similarity of consciousness and the social division of labour. In the first case the individual is socialized because, in the absence of any real individuality, he is united with others with whom he shares a common likeness, becoming part of the same collective type; in the second case, because, while having an appearance and personal activity which distinguish him from others, he is dependent on them to the extent that he is distinguished from them, and consequently upon the society which results from this combination” (Durkheim  2004:32).
- “The kind of person we become depends greatly on what we learn during our formative years from our surrounding social groups and social environment” (Kendall 2006:105).
- Word origin of “socialization” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Blum-Kulka, Shoshana. 1997. Dinner Talk: Cultural Patterns of Sociability and Socialization in Family Discourse. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Brown, Claude. 1965. Manchild in the Promised Land. New York. Macmillan.
- Chari, Sharad, and Stuart Corbridge, eds. 2008. The Development Reader. London: Routledge.
- Cherry, Andrew L. 1994. The Socializing Instincts: Individual, Family, and Social Bonds. Westport, CT: Praeger.
- Denzin, N. K. 2010. Childhood Socialization. 2nd ed. New York: Transaction.
- DuRocher, Kristina. 2011. Raising Racists: The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
- Flanagan, Cara. 1999. Early Socialisation: Sociability and Attachment. London: Routledge.
- Grusec, Joan E., and Paul D. Hastings, eds. 2016. Handbook of Socialization: Theory and Research. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press.
- Jackson, David J. 2009. Entertainment & Politics: The Influence of Pop Culture on Young Adult Political Socialization. 2nd ed. New York: Peter Lang.
- Maynard, Ashley E., And Mary I. Martini, eds. 2005. Learning in Cultural Context: Family, Peers, and School. New York: Springer.
- Mennesson, C. 2009. “Being a Man in Dance: Socialization Modes and Gender Identities.” Sport in Society 12(2):174–95. doi:10.1080/17430430802590979.
- Owens, Timothy J., and Richard Settersten, Jr., eds. 2002. New Frontiers in Socialization. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Rogoff, Barbara. 2003. The Cultural Nature of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.
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Cite the Definition of Socialization
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “socialization.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 1, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/socialization/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
socialization. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/socialization/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “socialization.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 1, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/socialization/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“socialization.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/socialization/>.