Socialization is the process of understanding the ideologies and norms of a society. It encompasses both teaching and learning, and it is the means through which cultural and social continuity are maintained. All human beings need social experiences so that they can learn about their culture. Socialization represents the whole process of learning in the course of one’s life, and it is the one that fundamentally influences the actions, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals (Roller, 2019). The desirable human attributes are influenced by the society where the individual spend most of their time.
These outcomes are commonly referred to as morals because they are the parameters used to assess whether an individual has conformed to the ideals of the culture or not (Roller, 2019). The people’s views are influenced by the consensus of the society on what it regards as permissible or not (Rodas et al., 2020). Lawrence Kohlberg conducted a study on moral reasoning and formulated a theory on how people determine whether actions are right or wrong (Roller, 2019). Benchmarking of one’s actions against the societal expectations is a daily occurrence.
The first stage of acculturation is called pre-conventional, where people, mostly children, derive their experience with the world through pleasure and pain. Their moral reasoning entirely reflects this particular experience because it is the only cultural environment they have associated with. The second stage is called conventional, which is typical for adolescents and adults. This stage is characterized by the unquestionable acceptance of the conventions of the society on what is right and wrong even when disobedience has no consequences. The last stage is the post-conventional (it is rarely achieved), where an individual does not consider the norms of the society when making decisions but rather anchors the actions and behavior on the ethical principles (Rodas et al., 2020). However, some people deviate from the societal norms either deliberately or not.
Any human society has two main groups: primary and secondary. The former is smaller in comparison with the latter. The primary formation has close and intimate relationships that last for a long time, it may be even a lifetime. This primary group is connected by emotions; therefore, their relationships are deep and symbiotic. The members of this group include romantic partners, childhood friends, and members of a religious group who usually have face to face interactions and a shared culture. This is a group where the members have much in common because they are tied by loyalty, concern, love, and support. The relationships in this group play a significant role because each member is influential to the other (Roller, 2019). The members therefore, play a major part in the development of one’s identity, behaviors, practices, morals, norms, values, and beliefs in society.
The secondary category mainly comprises people who are in temporary interpersonal relationships that are task-oriented. The members of this association are mainly found in educational and employment settings. The participants of this group are organized around narrow interests without which the groups will not exist. This is a functional type of association because it aims at achieving particular goals (Roller, 2019). Therefore, the secondary groups can be described as formal formation because the members gather to accomplish specific objectives.
The main reason for the formation of this group is to satisfy psychological and personal needs. In society, groups are formed to satisfy specific needs, such as social ones. Therefore, the way the society is organized determines the type and manner of the groups to be formed (Rodas et al., 2020). Members within a group are ever trying to ensure that its participants conform and those who defy are sanctioned. Deviance can be categorized into two groups: informal and formal. Formal deviance refers to committing crimes that infringe the laws enacted by society. Informal deviance entails minor violations that go against the unwritten rules of society. The behaviors that violate the norms in society pose potential threats amongst people. Any form of breaking the rules disrupts society by creating disunity and showing a lack of respect for the ideals of society. The consequences of defying the societal norms range from minor to severe. Firstly, there are intrapersonal effects on the violator where they develop feelings of shame or guilt. There are also interpersonal effects on the transgressor, such as the society members’ eliciting anger, negative emotions, and social judgments (Roller, 2019). Depending on the magnitude of the violation, the lawbreaker can be sanctioned, and their status in society can be lowered.
Social Comparison Theory by Festinger
Several prepositions try to explain the formation of groups, conformity, and deviance. One such principle is the social comparison theory, which explains that people conform to the norms in society as a psychological need to assess themselves. The concept states that people always try to understand whether their opinions and beliefs are what they ought to be. This model describes that people conform for the sake of remaining correct before the other members of the group (Bergh et al., 2019). Therefore, human beings always endeavor to fit into the desires of a group they belong to.
According to Festinger, people have an innate need to be and remain correct, hence constantly assessing their beliefs against the standards set so that they can judge themselves. The theory further explains that human beings are always benchmarking against the ideal norms and beliefs of the society (Bergh et al., 2019). People will always try to change their opinions and abilities if they are not contented with the outcome of the self-evaluation. The innate attributes of individuals in the society are therefore influenced by the nature of society where they spend most of their time. It is not possible to delink the behavior of a person from their culture because it is the one that forms the individual’s way of doing things.
Bergh, R., Davis, G. K., Hudson, S. T., & Sidanius, J. (2019). Social dominance theory and power comparison. Social Comparison, Judgment, and Behavior, (575-597). Oxford University Press.
Rodas, A., Simpson, M., Rawlinson, P., Kramer, R., Ryan, E., Taylor, E., Walters, R., Beckley, A., Cunneen, C., Gore, A., Porter, A., Poynting, S., & Russell, E. (2020). Crime, deviance, and society: An introduction to sociological criminology. Cambridge University Press.
Roller B. (2019). The social unconscious in persons, groups, and societies, volume 3: The foundation matrix extended and re-configured, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 69(3), 373-378, Web.