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Write short notes on the following:


a)     Primary socialization and Secondary Socialization


While many clusters of people are loosely understood as groups in everyday

Conversation, the term strictly from a sociological view point can be defined as s set of persons who have common interests, as patterned behaviour, who interact with each other in such as the members fell a strong connection to the collection and can justify use the term “us.”

            From this broad collection Charles Cooley further distinguished two types of groups: the primary group and the secondary group. Cooley’s Primary Group is characterized by face to face interaction, emotional support, a place where there member is recognized as an individual, exhibits spontaneous behaviour and is seen as an en in themselves. One major primary group is the family and to some extent the peer group.

            On the other hand secondary groups are characterized by distance sometimes—meaning there is little opportunity for intimate communication, members are sometimes typed instead of seen as individuals, behaviour is planned and patterned and most importantly they are task driven. Such groups include, political arties, the wider peer group and co-worker. Even though there is a clear distinction between primary and secondary groups, sometimes the increase level of interaction between members in a secondary group can transform it into a primary group for example the peer group.


b)     Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism


Structural Functionalists regard culture as the “ glue that hold society together,”

considering that culture is that all encompassing entity that regulates how members of

society think and act, they may indeed be correct. Because different cultures are associated with different societies this often leads to many problems when members of one society travels elsewhere.

            Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture is right and as such, judges other cultures by their own cultural standards. For example in India the cow is a sacred animal and not to be harmed, they may look at Westerners who consume large amounts of beef everyday as unholy or profane individuals. Ethnocentrism also poses a problem when people travel expecting to encounter their own “right” culture in a foreign land. When their expectations prove false, culture shock takes place, which can be very paralysing for many people.

            Nevertheless these difficulties are avoidable if members engage in cultural relativism, the act of judging another culture by that culture’s standards. For instance the Indians previously mentioned would not overwhelmingly regard us Westerners as unclean of unholy because that or our beef eating practices, but they would recognize that we are simply carrying out normative behaviour as it relates to out culture. Culture Relativism require that persons strip themselves of their culturally biased value which they have know all their lives and understand someone else’s culture. This is a very hard feat and so may people are unable or unwilling to do so, hence continuing many misunderstandings.



c)     Why is socialization important? Discuss with reference to the role of the following agents of socialization; (i) the church and (ii) peer groups.


Socialization is the process by which members of a given society learn the way(s) of life of their society. Without socialization, new members would learn nothing or very little about their environment and then disorder would reign, leading to the complete breakdown of society. Not only is socialization important for the wider society, but it is so for the individual. Many regard it as the process by which we become human, if socialization is the means by which we acquire the skills to function in society—such as language, beliefs, ideas etc. then without it we would simply be only shells of persons. The point is strengthened when one considers the stories of Genie, Anna and Isabella, al children who were locked away for many years without the interaction that socialization offers. As a result they showed extremely juvenile mental abilities even when ell into adolescence.

This all important function is carried out by many institutions and/or agents in society. The church is one such agent. Its role in the socialization process is to inculcate the more moral aspect of society into the individuals. It is a secondary agent that—like the school—helps the individual to internalise the universalistic values of society in order to continue the social stability. Nevertheless, this agent has lost some of its influence in recent years due to the far-reaching seductive influences of other agents—such as the Mass Media.

Peer groups are a more emotional setting for individuals to learn about themselves. It allows individual members of society to develop and identity away from the family and wider society that they can call their own. In my opinion it is the agent that best exemplifies Mead’s argument that who we are is as a consequence of social experience. While other agents overtly instruct the members of society how to behave, the peer group is a free flowing body that allows the member somewhat unrestricted learning.

Socialisation and by extension its agents form a vital part of the existence and continuation of society.



February 26 2002

Mid Semester Test