Preparing a written assignment
Activity 3: Task 1
Analyse the differences between primary and secondary socialisation
Socialisation starts from the moment we are born and continues until the day we die. It turns us from being totally reliant infants into self-aware adults and teaches us how to behave as a human being within society and culture. Because society is in a constant state of change we never stop learning how to behave and this is why the socialisation process continues throughout an individual’s lifetime. There are two very different types of socialisation that happen in a lifetime at very different stages.
They are Primary Socialisation and Secondary Socialisation.
Primary socialisation consists of the most important developmental stage a human being will go through. When we are born we are not aware of our ‘self’. For example, a baby will not understand that by shaking a rattle, it is actually him that is making the noise happen. Primary socialisation is the process that makes us self-aware and occurs between the infant and the people with whom they would have a primary relationship with, such as parents and very close grandparents. A primary relationship is close, personal, intimate and face-to-face. The people we have these relationships with are within groups called Agencies of primary socialisation, such as the immediate family or education if an infant starts nursery school or has a childminder very early in life. The individuals are called Agents of primary socialisation. According to G.H.Mead, children develop through imitation. For example, they will copy a parent who they have seen brushing their hair with a brush and will take a keen interest in domestic chores they see being done at home, such as hovering and polishing and will in their own way ‘hoover and polish’ as well.
Secondary Socialisation occurs from late childhood and continues as we mature into adults. It teaches us how to behave as human beings by helping us to learn the values, norms, statuses and roles of our culture. According to Talcott Parsons, the main purpose of Secondary Socialisation is to free us from the attachments we have with our primary agents. In other words it makes us the individuals that we become in adulthood. Like primary socialisation it still consists of Agents and Agencies but unlike primary socialisation it is learnt from people who are not emotionally close to us. In fact, we don’t even need to meet secondary agents. For example, an admired celebrity endorsing a particular product through advertising can influence an admirer to imitate them and purchase that product.
One of the main differences between primary and secondary socialisation is the stage at which they take part in an individual’s lifetime. Primary socialisation is responsible for teaching us mechanical skills such as walking and talking as well as shaping our psychological behaviour by teaching us the difference between right and wrong whilst secondary socialisation teaches us the nature of our society and how to behave within our culture and is normally associated with teens and adults.
The relationships an individual has between agents of primary and secondary socialisation is also very different. We can communicate openly and intimately with our most important primary agency – our family. However, we have to learn how to deal with others outside of primary agencies. This is because the vast majority of people we will come into contact with during adulthood will be dealt with unemotionally. Secondary socialisation is important because it teaches how to cope with this interaction.
A key responsibility of primary socialisation is how children learn gender roles. It is almost certainly unconsciously that children learn their gender as a child does not completely understand gender until they are five or six years old. From when they are born, infants are given clues as to their gender. For example, in an experiment five mothe