Socialisation

Summary of Video #14 of Crash Course Sociology.

Socialisation is the process through which we develop our personalities and human potential and learn about our society and culture. We are socialised by interacting with people. It is a lifelong process which begins with our families (or whoever you are living with).

Primary socialisation refers to your first experiences with language, values, beliefs, behaviours, and norms of your society. Parents and guardians provide you with cultural capital, the non-financial assets that help people succeed in the world. Gender socialisation, learning the psychological and social traits associated with a person’s sex, also starts in the home. There is also race socialisation, and class socialisation. These are examples of anticipatory socialisation, the social process where people learn to take on the values and standards of the groups thye plan to join.

Secondary socialisation is the process through which children become socialised outside the home, within society at large. This often starts with school. School comes with a hidden curriculum, an education in norms, values and beliefs that are passed along through schooling. They are also introduced to peer groups, social groups whose members have interests, social position, and usually age in common. They can have a major impact on the socialisation process. With social categories come social prescriptions, behaviours expected of people in those groups.

The media you consume is also a major part of your socialisation. How we consume our media is affected by social traits, and media can impact us dramatically.

There are also more intense types of socialisation, such as total institutions, which are places where people are completely cut off from the outside world, and face strict rules for how they must behave. In institutions, people undergo re-socialisation.

Social Development

Summary of Video #13 of Crash Course Sociology.

Nature is the part of human behaviour that is biologically determined and instinctive. Whereas nurture is behaviour based on the people and environment you are raised in. Socialisation is the process through which we develop our personalities and learn about our society and culture. Social isolation can affect a children’s ability to develop language skills, social skills and emotional stability.

Many theories of how we develop personalities, cognitive skills, and moral behaviour, come from psychologists, for example:

The above theories focused on childhood, but Erik Erikson came up with an 8-stage model that extended to old age, focusing on key challenges of each period of life.

How We Got Here

Summary of Video #12 of Crash Course Sociology.

What is a society? A society is a group of people who share a culture and a territory. Gerhard Lenski focused on technology as the main source of societal change (sociocultural evolution). He broke up human history into 5 types of societies defined by the technology they used and the social organisations that the technology helped create and sustain: huntering and gathering; horticultural and pastoral; agrarian; industrial, and; post industrial. These different types of society are not isolated from each other.

Karl Marx might seem pretty similar to Lenski, but for Marx, you only get large-scale social change through class struggle, which culminates in a revolution. Max Weber seems further away from Lenski, focusing on instead on ideas. Durkheim, on the other hand, approached the transitions from the perspective of a society’s underlying social structure. He saw Lenski’s social cultural evolution as the story of a long transition from mechanical to organic solidarity.

Cultures, Subcultures, and Countercultures

Summary of Video #11 of Crash Course Sociology.

Cultures can be categorised in several ways:

  • High culture refers to cultural patterns that distinguish a society’s elite.
  • Low or popular culture refers to the cultural behaviours and ideas that are popular with most people in society.
  • Mainstream culture refer to the cultural patterns that are broadly in line with a society’s cultural ideals and values.
  • Subcultures are cultural patterns that set apart a segment of a society’s population.
  • Counter-cultures push back on mainstream culture in an attempt to change how a society functions.

Typically, cultural groups with the most power and societal influence get labelled the norm, while people with less power get relegated to sub-groups. Counter-culture are a cause of cultural change, but cultures can also through the invention of new things or ideas, or through cultural diffusion.

We can judge cultures through the lens of ethnocentrism (i.e. judging one culture by the standards of another) or multiculturalism (i.e. recognises cultural diversity while advocating for equal standard for all cultural traditions).

 

Structural functionalists say that cultures form to provide order and cohesiveness in society, while conflict theorist might see interactions of sub-cultures as creating social inequalities and disenfranchise.

Symbols, Values and Norms

Summary of Video #10 of Crash Course Sociology.

Culture is the way that non-material objects, such as thoughts, action, language and values, come together with materials to form a way of life i.e. things (material culture) and ideas (non-material culture). Sociologists mainly focus on the culture of ideas and its 3 elements: symbols, values and beliefs, and norms.

Symbols include anything that carries a specific meaning that is recognised by people who share a culture, including language, non-verbal gestures, etc. Language allows us to share the things that make up our culture through cultural transmission. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis argues that a person’s thoughts and actions are influenced by the cultural lens created by the language they speak.

Values are the cultural standards that people to use to decide what’s good or bad, or right or wrong, whereas beliefs are specific ideas about what people think is true about the world. Values and beliefs can help explain why we see different social structures around the world, as well as form guidelines for behaviour within that culture.

Norms are the rules and expectations that guide behaviour within a society. There are 3 main types of norms: folkways, mores, and taboo. Norms can help societies function well, but can also be a social control that hold people back.

 

Max Weber & Modernity

Summary of Video #9 of Crash Course Sociology.

Weber said that the biggest change distinguishing modernity from traditionalism was a difference in the way we think i.e. ideas. Weber’s work examined some of the defining characteristics of the modern world, focusing on rationalisation, bureaucracy and social stratification.

Rationalisation: Traditionalism sees the world as having a basic order, and that order is the way things ought to be. Weber argued that the Protestant Reformation began the transformation to modernity, where the world become more rational. His definition of rationality included calculability, methodical behaviour, and reflexivity. That is, modern society is a society of explicit instructions and standardised methodical procedures which are always being reflected on and improved. According to Weber, the sociological consequence of the Protestant Reformation was that it transformed a communal, traditional society into an individualistic capitalist society focused on economic success.

Bureaucracy: Weber argued that the rise of bureaucracy was one of the biggest impacts of the rationalisation of society. The modern state is an apparatus of rules which are ultimately directed by a group of characteristic leaders.

Social stratification: Weber argued that the system for social stratification was more complicated and consisted of 3 elements which could vary independently: class, political parties and status groups.

Weber worried that people would become locked in an “iron cage” of bureaucratic capitalism, where our lives would be nothing but a series of interactions based on rationalised rules with no personal meaning behind them.

Harriet Martineau and Gender Conflict Theory

Summary of Video #8 of Crash Course Sociology.

Harriet Martineau was the first female sociologist. Her work was one starting point from which the waves of feminism unfolded:

  1. Women’s rights movement focusing on legal inequalities;
  2. Female participation in the labour force, equal pay, reproductive rights, sexual violence, education inequality, and divorce, arising from the idea that gender has societal origins.
  3. Broadening the definition of feminism to encompass issues of race, class, sexuality and other forms of disadvantage.

Definitions:

  • Feminism. The support for social equality among genders. Feminist theory is one school of thought in the study of gender.
  • Sex. The biological distinction between females, males and intersex individuals.
  • Gender. The personality traits and social roles that society attaches to different sexes. Gender roles change among societies and over time.
  • Intersectionality. The analysis of how race, class and gender interact to create systems of disadvantage that are interdependent.