Resocialization: Meaning, Examples and Overview

Resocialization: This refers to the process whereby an individual or a group, are brought in contact with a new culture, which requires them to leave behind their old identity and take up a new one. During this process, they are required to learn the norms, values, and ways of life into the new environment or the setting which they are brought in contact with. This requires, as the first step, for the individual to give up or forget their previous values and at times even their identity and adopt the one specific to their environment. This process is often deliberate and intense.

Erving Goffman had defined the term resocialization as a process of tearing down and building up individuals role and socially constructed sense of self.

Resocialization may be mild and take place in simpler ways, such as when an Indian may move to a country like Japan and interact with their culture and find that they are disciplined and their rules of eating, working and doing other such things are more stringent than those of India. This will require the immigrant to then unlearn the behavior and habits of the previous country, in this case, India and adopt that of Japan.

Although resocialization is not always a mild process, it is more common to total institutions and religious cults, the former are institutions which are cut off from the rest of the society and function on the strict laws and regulations of their own. These play the role of isolating people from the larger society and thus require those participating in them to often give up everything that they have been taught when they were a part of the larger society. Some examples of total institutions are prisons, military, old age homes, even at times mental institutions as studied by Erving Goffman.

These total institutions start by taking away the previous identities of people, this is often done by taking away their personal possessions, e.g. those who are becoming a part of the old age homes are required to give up their normal interaction with their families and often their very own houses and shift into rooms, that may or may not be shared with others in the home. They have to adjust to now being taken care of by those other than their own family members.

One of the harshest forms of resocialization is seen in the case of the military training, during this those who wish to be a part of the military are expected to often give up their lifestyle of luxury and adapt to the lifestyle of discipline and uniformity. Here often they are required to cut their hair short and wear uniforms and go through rigorous physical training as a part of their daily routine.

One thing that is to be kept in mind, however, is that people do not respond to their resocialization in the same way, while one may adopt without much problem, the others, however, may become hostile to the situation. Thus one can see that the process of resocialization can be intense.


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