The process of socialization is operative not only’ in childhood but throughout life it is a process which begins at birth and continues unceasingly until the death of the individual. It is an incessant process. Formerly, the term Socialization had not been applied to adult learning experiences but had been restricted to children.
More recently, however, the concept of socialization has been broadened to include aspects of adult behaviour as well. It is now thought of “as an interactional process whereby a person’s behaviour is modified to conform to expectations held by members of the groups to which he belongs
.”Thinkers describe this process in reference to children only because therein such complicating factors as are introduced when the person becomes conscious of self and others are absent.
When the person begins to read books, listen to stories and is enabled to have an imagination of ideal society, it becomes difficult to separate the subjective factors from the objective ones and assess their respective contribution in the socialization of the child.
Since socialization is an important matter for society it is but desirable that the child’s socialization should not be left to mere accident but should be controlled through instructional channels. What a child is going to be is more important that what he is.
It is socialization which turns the child into a useful member of the society and gives him social maturity. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to know as to who socialize the child.”
There are two sources of child’s socialization. The first includes those who have authority over him; the second are those who are equal in authority to him. The first category may include parents, teachers, elderly persons, and the state.
The second one includes the playmates, the friends and the fellows in the club. His training varies in content and significance according as it is acquired from one or the other source. In one category is the relationship of constraint, in the other it is that of cooperation the relationship of constraint is based on unilateral respect for persons in authority, while the relationship of co-operation is based on mutual understanding between equals.
The rules of behaviour, under the first category are felt as superior, absolute and external, but rules in the second category have no superiority or absoluteness in themselves but simply are the working principles of association. Persons having authority over the child are generally older than he, while persons sharing equality with him are apt to be of similar age. 1
There are reasons as to why socialization should proceed through authoritarian modes. The patterns of behaviour expected in the culture are not innate; sometimes these are even contrary to biological inclination.
It is, therefore, but necessary that persons charged with socializing the child must be given the power to command obedience. This power can be given only to older persons because when the process of socialization begins, the infant has no juniors and no capacity for associating with equals.
The parents, therefore, are the first persons who socialize the child. They are not only closely related to him in the family system but physically also they are nearer to the child than others. The mother is the first of the parents who begins the process of socialization. It is from her that the earliest social stimuli to which a child is subjected, come.
He responds to these stimuli by imitating them. With a wide age and experience gap separating the child from his parents, he cannot understand fully the logic and nature of all that they transmit to him.
In case the child does not follow the rules, he may be coerced, because from the societal point of view the essential thing is not that the child be ‘freed’ from taboo in order to “express his personality,” but that he may be taught folkways and mores and protected from himself during his period of childishness.
Hence what the child absorbs at the first instance is largely a morality of restraint. The society transmits, taking no chances, the most valued parts of its heritage. Societal morality is thus not a matter of rational understanding but of felt obligation.
The child acquires something from his equals which he cannot acquire from persons in authority. From them he acquires the co-operative morality and some of the informal aspects of culture like small folkways, fads and crazes, secret modes of gratification and forbidden knowledge.
The knowledge of such things is necessary from the social point of view. To take an example, the knowledge of sex relations is considered in our society something undesirable for a youth until he gets married. If such knowledge is strictly banned until marriage, the performance of numerous functions of sex life may be difficult after marriage.
So, sex knowledge is not excluded completely though formally it is considered undesirable. This knowledge the child acquires from equalitarian group. Though the child cannot get as much knowledge from another child who is equal in age to him, yet “in so far as the child learns in the equalitarian group to understand the rules as part of a co-operative effort, in so far as he learns to stand up for his rights without the protection of authority or the abjectness of dependence, he acquires something that is very hard if not impossible to get in the authoritarian type of relationship.”
Thus both the authoritarian and equalitarian relationships contribute to the socialization of the child. Things that involve discipline and responsibility in transmission are handed over to authoritarian relations, other things to equalitarian relations.