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Socialization is the process, beginning at birth, through which one eventually adopts as one’s own the norms, values and beliefs of one’s culture, and the roles appropriate to one’s social position.

There are two dimensions to socialization. The first, and most basic, occurs in childhood. It involves transformation from totally egocentric infants, whose behaviours are dominated by biological urges, into persons capable of taking the perspective of others. We thus develop a self-concept and become able to anticipate, evaluate, and consciously experience our own behaviour. In the process we also develop an understanding of the expectations, desires, and feelings of others. We learn to relate to other people.

The second dimension of socialization is related to the first. It begins in childhood and continues throughout life. We learn what is expected of members of a particular culture, and also what behaviours are appropriate to various situations – both our own roles, present or anticipated, and the roles of relevant others. How is this dramatic transformation possible? Part of the answer lies in the nature of human interaction, and a most significant feature of this interaction is language.

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