The social order is maintained largely by socialization. Unless the individuals behave in accordance with the norms of the group it is going to disintegrate. But how does the process of socialization begin to work? It is said that the working of the process starts long before the child is born.
The social circumstances preceding his birth lay down to a great extent the kind of life he is to lead. The parents’ courtship, and marital selection, the customs concerning pregnancy and birth and the whole system of cultural practices surrounding the family are important for the child’s growth.
The techniques of parental care affect his chances of being born and of being healthy. Pre-natal care forms an integral part of family welfare. Thus the circumstances preceding his birth indirectly influence his growth in society.
But direct socialization begins only after birth. The newly born child as an organism has certain things which limit or help socialization. These things which he has may be categorized into reflexes, instincts, urges and capacities.
Reflexes put the severest limitation upon socialization. Reflexes are the automatic and rigid responses of the organism to a given stimulus. They are unlearnt and even unmodifiable. They set limits on what the organism can do. But they are not the bases out of which socialization emerges. The contractions of the pupil of the eye in strong light, the salvation of the glands of the mouth at the taste of sugar are examples of reflexes.
Some psychologists have sought to explain human behaviour in terms of instinct. Adam Smith, in his treatise ‘Sympathetic Basis of Human Activities’ has accepted sympathy as the basis of all human behaviour.
Trotter believes all human behaviour to be based on herd instinct. Freud, the founder of the school of psycho analysis, claims the sex instinct to be the source of all human endeavours. McDougall is strong advocate of the theory of instincts.
Behaviour is said to be instinctive if that “originates in an urge or appetite, involves some sort of perception of the external world, is peculiarly fixed and mechanical, is dependent on inherited structure and therefore characteristic of the species and is at the same time highly adaptive or functional”. But to explain human behaviour in terms of instinct is fallacious because the human being at birth probably has no complete instinct but only certain elements of them, such as reflexes and urges.
Urge provides firmer ground for analysis of human behaviour. If human needs are not satisfied, it leads to tension until it encounters a stimulus capable of relieving the tension. The urge is thus a dynamic force behind behaviour; it provides a starting point for the process of socialization.
Everyone is born with defined capacities. Though there may be some limits to what a man can do, this limitation can be overcome and is being overcome by the development of civilization. Man’s capacity to learn may be increased by the development of new techniques of instruction and incentives.
At present, no human being learns as much as he could under more favourable circumstances, for his learning capacity is never used to maximum capacity. All societies are guilty of wasting human learning ability.