Socialisation and the Creation of Social identity: As & A Level Notes

The article defines Socialisation while covering the relation between an individual and the society, exploring the dimensions of social order and explaining the concepts of social identity and change.

Socialisation and the creation of social identity NOTES

The fundamental idea of sociology is society. Therefore, understanding society is essential for a thorough grasp of sociology. In addition, society’s survival is entwined with that of man, hence it is as old as the man itself. Sociology is the study of human interactions and connections. These interpersonal exchanges and connections are happening in the society. Society generally refers to a very common concept of understanding and categorizing a group of people like the Harijan, Nigros etcwhile at the same time it also looks like formidable institutions considering the Brahmo Samaj, Church Sects etc (Poole, 2002). In sociology, “society” refers to the complex web of norms, connections, and relations that emerge among a collection of people rather than to a specific group of individuals. People only truly live as agents of social connections. Society is not solely composed of people. Rather, society is the complex network of interpersonal relationships that binds everyone to those in their immediate vicinity. Society, consequently, is abstract as opposed to concrete. We cannot contact it; we can only fill it. Because civilization lives in each person’s mind.

Elements of socialization

The three basic elements that govern globalization are the innate nature of an individual which comprises of the genetic set-up, the environment in which he is raised and the culture that brings both these elements into action. No individual is born without belonging to a particular group which determines its first values, principles, and roles. These structures play an important role in influencing the behaviour. We can look at the example of an African- American woman who is socialized into being vocal about her opinion, standing for her ideas and participating into the societal decisions, whereas a Japanese woman is more likely to observe a situation and not directly participate in a conflict (Avis, 2001). This evidence is based on the nurture part of development. Similarly, girls are more cautious about their sitting posture in public than males. All the mannerisms that an individual show cases depicts a form of socialization instilled in him. We learn to adapt to them at a young age. However, as we grow older we set out to explore behviours and actions based on factors other than culture, society and a specific social class.

Further, the nurture verses nature debate is very common when one tries to understand the reason behind our actions. Some of the researchers believe based on various experimental studies that nature is a determining factor for behaviour and case studies have been present where even after separation for years, the twins acted in the same manner. However, debates claiming the role of nurturing in shaping behaviour is also exceedingly smart. The same identical twin experiment explained that even though the twins acted in the same way like raising left arm or twitching nose at the same time, the different religions and cultures that they were raised in determined their choices and hence, reframed the behaviour.

Agencies of social behaviour

Family: Even though there are few family roles, those that do exist tend to be complicated and involve lengthy periods of role development, particularly in societies where divorce and remarriage are permitted. Adults might need to pick up positions like husband/wife, parent, or stepparent. Additionally, a variety of roles are involved in child growth, including those of a baby, infant, child, adolescent, and, possibly, an adult with offspring.

We can establish our positions within the framework of a community that is primarily governed by relationships founded on love, responsibility, and duty, which allows us to make mistakes and pick up lessons along the way without doing too much harm. Parents shape how we refer to our elders and the words that represent care, warmth, trust and regards. Example, we are taught to address our parents as mom and dad, instead of their names. In a similar fashion negative reactions are also taught by the parents as they are the primary source of socialization for the child. These behaviors are learnt through words, expressions, reinforcements and other physical rewards. When a child receives the praise from a parent on throwing garbage in the dustbin, it teaches them that this behaviour will be rewarded if repeated in the same form.

Children are socialised by being instructed to imitate particular actions like bowing head to greet an elder in the Chinese society, but they also actively plan their own socialisation. For instance, kids might decide not to obey their parents in order to test the boundaries of social control, for example skipping school. Parents’ commands aren’t always followed by kids. Children may also pick up socialisation signals in various ways; for example, a relative might compliment behaviour that a parent might find unacceptable. Children need to understand that different individuals may react in various ways to the same behaviour depending on the situation.

Friends/ Peer groups: Age-appropriate behaviour is often related to peer-group standards. Laws typically prohibit young children from purchasing booze or smoking cigarettes, for instance. Additionally, it is typically not thought appropriate for elderly people to engage in extreme activities or wear clothing meant for younger people. Social sanctions, also known as peer-group sanctions, are typically casual and consist of things like judgmental looks and remarks. This is primarily due to the fact that peer-group norms vary greatly, and the same behaviour may elicit various responses based on the circumstance. While swearing among peers may be acceptable, profanity at a grandparent is likely to be frowned upon.

School/ educational institution: Education plays a vital role in structuring our mannerism. It teaches us the principles of the society we live in and helps us in distinguishing different forms of learning. It empowers an individual with knowledge, insight and intellect to understand moral characteristics and thus participates in providing an environment to inculcate certain qualities that constitute the personality of a person.

A child learns to adhere to these norms like lunch can be taken only in the break period and not during the class, which provide a standard of behaviour and regulate some of the personality. This behaviour is responsible for any social action that we participate in and violation of these actions may result in social boycott, or a more severe punishment.

Also Read: Education and Society- AS and A level Notes

Society: We all operate in a community that is generally governed by a variety of laws and rules. Nobody can behave independently while disregarding society and societal norms. The actions and conduct should be in accordance with the traditions, customs, and standards established by the community. If a person in a society adheres to the applicable standards and behaves carefully in accordance with those, they are rewarded; if not, they are punished for their rebellious behaviour. Media influences individuals’ attitudes towards different aspects of life such as gender roles, politics, religion etc. Religion provides moral guidance to individuals on how to live their lives according to their faith.

In Japanese society it is acceptable to be socially withdrawn and it is not seen as anything out of ordinary. Rather this sort of behaviour is encouraged and promoted, even after psychologist came up with disorders like Taijin Kyofusho (form of social anxiety disorder) in which the behaviour deferred from the normal, it was considered usual in Japan. However, loud people and histrionic behaviour has been frowned upon in the Japanese society.

Role of rewards and punishments in socialisation

        Psychological effects of rewards and penalties impact the behaviour. One’s character can be significantly changed by learning how to use various methods to support, promote, or avoid a particular behaviour. Rewards and reinforcement increase the probability of  a particular behaviour recurring, whereas punishments reduce the likelihood that a behaviour will occur again. A child will make sure to consume all of his meals on time if he is told that he can watch TV only after eating and only then. However, instead of rewarding poor behavior, punishment aims to put an end to it.

Social control, conformity, and resistance

        “Social control depends, then, upon the degree to which individuals in society are able to assume attitudes of others who are involved with them in common endeavors,” George Herbert Mead stated in 1925’s International Journal of Ethics. (Mead 1925). He was simply expressing a common orientation in American sociology that had already been reflected in the first volume of the American Journal of Sociology, published in 1896, in his own conceptual words. Social control is the art of combining social forces to give society at least a tendency towards an ideal, according to George Vincent, a sociologist who still felt at home using the language of social philosophy.

        An orderly social existence requires social control. To preserve normative social order, the community must regulate and pattern individual behaviour. Without social control, the structure of civilization is about to become unbalanced. If the person has been properly socialized, he or she will confirm to the accepted methods out of habit as well as out of a desire to be liked and accepted by other people. Therefore, socialisation is a type of social control because it restricts the variety of behaviours that people can engage in.

        There are numerous theories that explain why people embrace the social control and comply to these rules, norms, and regulations. Some of the researchers believe that fear is the driving force and the threat of being secluded from the society on not following a particular norm, makes them comply to that particular practice. People are frequently awarded for acting in accordance with the suggestions, counsel, and rules of higher authority. Authorities may exert their sway in a variety of ways, as first described by French & Raven in their seminal study on the foundations of social power in 1959. The distinction between authority based on one’s expertise and authority derived from one’s relative position in a hierarchy has remained relevant in distinguishing mere compliance from what is commonly referred to as obedience, even though the universe of power bases has been challenged, modified, and revised significantly over the years (Koslowsky & Schwarzwald 2001).

         However, there are regional differences in norms. They change over time, within a community, and from one group to another. The behaviours that are universally recognised as deviating from some standard or norms are difficult to pinpoint. For instance, in India and the USA, prostitution may be regarded as deviant behaviour and defined as such by legislation. Nevertheless, prostitutes are permitted to work openly in some regions of some European nations. It is usually found to be relative in nature.

          It is possible to list the following three types of deviance (Horton and Hunt 1981). A cultural deviation departs from a society’s standards while a psychological deviation, such as a psychotic or neurotic, departs from the norms of personality organisation. Individual deviation happens when an individual deviates from the norms of a subculture. An example would be a kid from a well-educated and respectable family who starts using drugs and leaves school. The conventional morality of society condemns the norms of the deviant subculture, such as a street-corner gang of unemployed youth participating in a variety of illegal activities. A case of group departure is this. The team will either develop into a tight-knit unit and embrace a set of conventional conduct, or they will develop into a distinctive subculture. Others in society criticise the group’s behaviour and the actions of its members. Primary deviance is the breaking of social standards by a person who is essentially a conformist in their life and is not labelled as a deviant. To avoid being labelled as a deviant, the deviant act is trivialized, tolerable, or hidden. For instance, occasionally going with a cheaper ticket. One’s public identity as a deviant can lead to secondary deviation. A person is classified as a rogue. When deviance develops, the labelling procedure frequently marks the end of the road. It results in exclusions, potential termination, ostracism, and occasionally even incarceration. He or she would be unable to stop their conduct even if they had the option to.

        There are many biological, psychological, and social reasons as to why an individual might resist the social control and deviate from the same. Psychological explanations place more stress on the individual’s mind than their physical characteristics. According to some theories, frustration is the root cause of deviance. When needs are not met, anger is the outcome, which fuels aggression. Frustration over a lack of funds can result in violent behavior, including child abuse, robbery, and even homicide. This explanation has a few flaws, including the fact that frustration is described so broadly as to encompass almost any behaviour. The primary reason biological explanations of disobedience have been disproved is that they don’t explain why people with comparable biological make-up don’t exhibit the same types of behaviour. Biological explanations also fail to account for the variation, both in terms of deviance and the character of it relative. Where many sociological theories exists to define non-conformity like marginalisation, labelling, cultural deprivation and so on, social conflict has been part of significant researches. According to conflict theory, most societies have numerous groups with disparate, frequently at odds ideals. The ability to define the values of weaker and subordinate groups as abnormal lies with the strongest groups in a community. For instance, Quinney (1979) defines crime as human behaviour that is wanted by authorised agents in a politically organised society. Any action that conflicts with the objectives of these agents is frequently defined as criminal. In order to force their own interests on others, powerful people use the media to publicise these definitions of crime. As a result, rather than serving the interests of the weak workers, rules against theft and robbery have been designed to assist powerful capitalists.

Gender and social identity as a part of socialisation

The primary socialisation factors for gender are parents, peers, siblings, schools, culture, and religion. Parents and families have a major influence on how early children develop their gender socialisation. They decide what kind of toys and clothing the infant receives, how the family interacts with a boy, and how like boys are provided with guns to play with while girls are encouraged to play with kitchen set or dolls. Gender socialization, according to UNICEF, is the process by which people are taught to act in a particular way as prescribed by societal beliefs, values, attitudes, and examples. The child’s primary environment is his household. It is a world unto itself where the infant learns how to live, move, and exist. In addition to the biological processes of birth, protection, and feeding, it is also in this environment that children establish their first, close relationships with people of all ages and sexes, which serve as the foundation for personality development.

People are becoming identity shoppers because of the exposure that globalisation has given societies to new attitudes and ideologies. Consequently, people are developing fragmented identities. When defining “the Self,” the main sources of identity are less significant. Consumption and online personas are playing a bigger role in how we define “the Self “. Monolithic identities, such as the proper method to be a particular person, or the centred social identities, can no longer be upheld. People are free to create personas and modify them to fit their personal preferences because social norms are lax. Identity fragmentation results in diminished confidence in one’s own behaviour. Social norms no longer serve as a guide for appropriate behavior, so people develop their own distinctive personal personalities over the course of their lives. This has resulted in various physical and psychological problems and given birth to problems at a global level.

Also Read: 8 Important Perspectives in the Psychology


In conclusion, socialisation is necessary for people to develop into useful citizens of society. By demonstrating to us what is acceptable or unacceptable in our society, it moulds our personalities and behaviours. Therefore, it is crucial for parents, guardians, teachers, and others to give children good socialisation opportunities that will help them grow into accountable individuals who can make a positive contribution to society.


Aronfreed, J. (2013). Conduct and conscience: The socialization of internalized control over behavior. Elsevier.

Bales, R. F., & Parsons, T. (2014). Family: Socialization and interaction process. routledge.

Crisogen, D. T. (2015). Types of socialization and their importance in understanding the phenomena of socialization. European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research5(1), 331.

Genner, S., & Süss, D. (2017). Socialization as media effect. The international encyclopaedia of media effects1, 1-15.

Janowitz, M. (1975). Sociological Theory and Social Control. American Journal of Sociology, 81(1), 82–108.

M. (2023, January 16). Ch. 2 Socialisation and the creation of social identity – Study With Mehar. Study With Mehar.

Share on:

Aazima is a passionate individual who loves to explore various genres of literature, with psychological thrillers and light comedies being her all-time favorites. When she's not indulging in reading, she enjoys watching cricket, one of her other passions.