Outcome: Socialization

Explain why socialization is important

Where did you learn your table manners? Chances are, you were instructed from an early age an your home dinner table about how to eat appropriately around others. Or maybe your parents never explicitly said, “chew with your mouth closed,” but you picked up on their disapproval when they looked at you with frowns. Or maybe you come from a different cultural background where your eating habits are distinct from typical American etiquette. Where did you first learn about American table manners? Maybe school? On a outing with friends?

In this section, you’ll see that it’s through direct interactions with social groups, like families and peers, that we learn 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.

Imagine an alien encounters your world. What cues might the alien not understand and what social norms might the alien break? Watch this short clip to see an example of why an alien might not fare well without first being socialized into our world.

What you’ll learn to do:

  • Understand the importance of socialization both for individuals and society
  • Learn the roles of families and peer groups in socialization
  • Understand how we are socialized through formal institutions like schools, workplaces, and the government
  • Explain how socialization occurs and recurs throughout life
  • Understand how people are socialized into new roles at age-related transition points
  • Describe when and how resocialization occurs


The learning activities for this section include:

  • Reading: Why Socialization Matters
  • Reading: Social Group Agents
  • Reading: Institutional Agents
  • Reading: Socialization Across the Life Course
  • Reading: Resocialization
  • Self-Check: Socialization