5.1 Theories of Self-Development

Psychological theories of self-development have been broadened by sociologists who explicitly study the role of society and social interaction in self-development. Charles Cooley and George Mead both contributed significantly to the sociological understanding of the development of self. Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan developed their ideas further and researched how our sense of morality develops. Gilligan added the dimension of gender differences to Kohlberg’s theory.

5.2 Why Socialization Matters

Socialization is important because it helps uphold societies and cultures; it is also a key part of individual development. Research demonstrates that who we are is affected by both nature (our genetic and hormonal makeup) and nurture (the social environment in which we are raised). Sociology is most concerned with the way that society’s influence affects our behavior patterns, made clear by the way behavior varies across class and gender.

5.3 Agents of Socialization

Our direct interactions with social groups, like families and peers, teach us how others expect us to behave. Likewise, a society s formal and informal institutions socialize its population. Schools, workplaces, and the media communicate and reinforce cultural norms and values.

5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course

Socialization is a lifelong process that reoccurs as we enter new phases of life, such as adulthood or senior age. Resocialization is a process that removes the socialization we have developed over time and replaces it with newly learned rules and roles. Because it involves removing old habits that have been built up, resocialization can be a stressful and difficult process.

Introduction to Culture

  • socialization: the process wherein people come to understand societal norms and expectations, to accept society’s beliefs, and to be aware of societal values

Section 5.1 – Theories of Self-Development

  • self: a person’s distinct sense of identity as developed through social interaction
  • generalized other: the common behavioral expectations of general society
  • moral development: the way people learn what is “good” and “bad” in society

Section 5.2 – Why Socialization Matters

  • nurture: the role that our social environment plays in self-development
  • nature: the influence of our genetic makeup on self-development

Section 5.3 – Agents of Socialization

  • peer group: a group made up of people who are similar in age and social status and who share interests
  • hidden curriculum: the informal teaching done in schools that socializes children to societal norms

Section 5.4 – Socialization Across the Life Course

  • anticipatory socialization: the way we prepare for future life roles
  • resocialization: the process by which old behaviors are removed and new behaviors are learned in their place
  • degradation ceremony: the process by which new members of a total institution lose aspects of their old identities and are given new ones

Section 5.1 Theories of Self-Development

Psychological Perspectives on Self-Development
Sociological Theories of Self-Development
 Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
 Gilligan’s Theory of Moral Development and Gender

Section 5.2 Why Socialization Matters

Nature versus Nurture

Section 5.3 Agents of Socialization

Social Group Agents
 Peer Groups
Institutional Agents
 The Workplace
 Mass media

Section 5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course


Click Here for Chapter 5.

6.1 Types of Groups

Groups largely define how we think of ourselves. There are two main types of groups: primary and secondary. As the names suggest, the primary group is the long-term, complex one. People use groups as standards of comparison to define themselves both who they are and who they are not. Sometimes groups can be used to exclude people or as a tool that strengthens prejudice.

6.2 Group Size and Structure

The size and dynamic of a group greatly affects how members act. Primary groups rarely have formal leaders, although there can be informal leadership. Groups generally are considered large when there are too many members for a simultaneous discussion. In secondary groups there are two types of leadership functions, with expressive leaders focused on emotional health and wellness, and instrumental leaders more focused on results. Further, there are different leadership styles: democratic leaders, authoritarian leaders, and laissez-faire leaders.

Within a group, conformity is the extent to which people want to go along with the norm. A number of experiments have illustrated how strong the drive to conform can be. It is worth considering real-life examples of how conformity and obedience can lead people to ethically and morally suspect acts.

6.3 Formal Organizations

Large organizations fall into three main categories: normative/voluntary, coercive, and utilitarian. We live in a time of contradiction: while the pace of change and technology are requiring people to be more nimble and less bureaucratic in their thinking, large bureaucracies like hospitals, schools, and governments are more hampered than ever by their organizational format. At the same time, the past few decades have seen the development of a trend to bureaucratize and conventionalize local institutions. Increasingly, Main Streets across the country resemble each other; instead of a Bob s Coffee Shop and Jane s Hair Salon there is a Dunkin Donuts and a Supercuts. This trend has been referred to as the McDonaldization of society.

Section 6.1 – Types of Groups

  • group: any collection of at least two people who interact with some frequency and who share some sense of aligned identity
  • aggregate: a collection of people who exist in the same place at the same time, but who don't interact or share a sense of identity
  • category: people who share similar characteristics but who are not connected in any way
  • primary groups: small, informal groups of people who are closest to us
  • secondary groups: larger and more impersonal groups that are task-focused and time limited
  • instrumental function: being oriented toward a task or goal
  • in-group: a group a person belongs to and feels is an integral part of his identity
  • out-group: a group that an individual is not a member of, and may even compete with
  • reference groups: groups to which an individual compares herself

Section 6.2 – Group Size and Structure

  • dyad: a two-member group
  • triad: a three-member group
  • expressive function: a group function that serves an emotional need
  • leadership function: the main focus or goal of a leader
  • instrumental leader: a leader who is goal oriented with a primary focus on accomplishing tasks
  • expressive leader: a leader who is concerned with process and with ensuring everyone's emotional wellbeing
  • leadership style: the style a leader uses to achieve goals or elicit action from group members
  • democratic leader: a leader who encourages group participation and consensus-building before moving into action
  • laissez-faire leader: a hands-off leader who allows members of the group to make their own decisions
  • authoritarian leader: a leader who issues orders and assigns tasks
  • conformity: the extent to which an individual complies with group or societal norms

Section 6.3 – Formal Organizations

  • formal organizations: large, impersonal organizations
  • bureaucracies: formal organizations characterized by a hierarchy of authority, a clear division of labor, explicit rules, and impersonality.
  • normative or voluntary organizations: organizations that people join to pursue shared interests or because they provide some intangible rewards
  • coercive organizations: organizations that people do not voluntarily join, such as prison or a mental hospital
  • total institution: an organization in which participants live a controlled lifestyle and in which total resocialization occurs
  • utilitarian organizations: organizations that are joined to fill a specific material need
  • hierarchy of authority: a clear chain of command found in a bureaucracy
  • clear division of labor: the fact that each individual in a bureaucracy has a specialized task to perform
  • explicit rules: the types of rules in a bureaucracy; rules that are outlined, recorded, and standardized
  • impersonality: the removal of personal feelings from a professional situation
  • meritocracy: a bureaucracy where membership and advancement is based on merit  proven and documented skills
  • Iron Rule of Oligarchy: the theory that an organization is ruled by a few elites rather than through collaboration
  • McDonaldization of Society: the increasing presence of the fast-food business model in common social institutions

Section 6.1 Types of Groups

Defining a Group
Types of Groups
In-Groups and Out-Groups
Reference Groups

Section 6.2 Group Size and Structure

Dyads, Triads, and Large Groups
Group Leadership

Section 6.3 Formal Organizations

Types of Formal Organizations
The McDonaldization of Society

Click Here for Chapter 6.