Fundamentals of Social Psychology

Chapter 20: Socialization

Emory S. Bogardus

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SOCIALIZATION is the climax of intersocial stimulation. It is that process whereby individuals with no outlook or understanding develop into self-respecting persons with a full-orbed social responsibility. E. A. Ross has pointed out that socialization is "the development of the we-feeling in associates and then growth in capacity and will to act together."[1] The key-word is "we-feeling." Socialization to F. H. Giddings includes the development of "a social state of mind,"[2] and to E. W. Burgess it involves the participation of the individual in the spirit, purposes, decisions, and actions of groups.[3] . Holding oneself responsible for the welfare of other persons is an added and higher moral note given by C. A. Ellwood.[4] . It involves the development of a social self control rather than an objective social control.[5]

Socialization is the process whereby individuals unconsciously and consciously learn to act, feel, and think dependably together but not necessarily alike in behalf of human welfare outside their own, and in so doing experience intrinsic changes involving an increasing degree of social self-control, of social responsibility, and of personal enrichment and expansion.


I. One of the bases of socialization is the original social nature of persons. Being reared in association and amid survival products of association every person has a basic social nature which affords an excellent ground for the rise of a sense and practice of social responsibility.

( 230) In this social nature, apparently, there are mechanisms that respond to social stimuli,[6] and that are capable of expanding into a life dedicated to others' service.

2. The sympathetic emotions also promote socialization. A given need sets off similar emotional mechanisms in different individuals who thereby respond together. Suffering brings hard-hearted pioneers together, melts antagonisms between relatives, and may even halt firing orders on the field of battle. Sympathy bridges the chasms between otherwise isolated persons.

Sympathy has not only individualistic but group origins. The actual intermingling of persons in need creates a group sympathy. The sympathy that springs up within a group[7] is close to the essence of socialization.

3. Socialization includes the social imagination.[8] In imagining one's self in the position of another person, one is fulfilling elemental cognitive conditions of socialization. He is putting himself in a position of understanding the problems of others. This use of the social imagination may result in taking direct advantage of others, in helping them for ultimate personal gain, or in helping them without expectation of reward. It is in this last possibility that true socialization and that socialized imagination supersedes social imagination.

4. Habit makes the socialized imagination and similar traits dependable.[9] The truly socialized person is he who habitually responds to the welfare of other persons without expectation of reward. The temptations to take advantage of the untrained, of those less educated than one's self, of the immature are so many and insidious that nothing less than the most stable, habitual organization of one's nature in the direction of unselfish social service will suffice.

5. Communication is essential to socialization. Symbols with their meanings connect individuals, allowing them to interstimulate one another and provide that degree of understanding which is requisite for mutual service and co÷peration.[10] By virtue of communication individuals may stimulate each other to make original responses, to develop mutual aid, or to fight and destroy one another. The deepest type of communication is a communion that leads to a consciousness of kindred interests, and of a common human nature ; it shows that beneath all feuds, hatreds, differ-

( 231) -ences of opinion there are similar life and death problems, and similar fears, sorrows, and hopes.

6. Then there is a cognitive recognition of common problems, of mutual dependence, and of the need for generous mutual aid in socialization.[11] The importance of this point may be seen by considering the highest type of social co÷peration among animals. This cognitive factor is absent in the extraordinary manifestations of "general organic co÷perativeness" of the social wasps, beetles, bees, and the ants. "Nature's most startling efforts in communal organization"[12] are lacking in intellectual approach to new problems, in handling problems not present in time or space, without which socialized effort is totally inadequate. Thanks to the cognitive attitude persons can understand the basic similarities and needs of mankind everywhere and develop a socialized world point of view.

7. Cooperative activity is vital to a fully-developed socialization. In action we learn, and in co÷perative action we learn the meaning of socialization. The thrill of working together wholesomely for a common cause represents more genuine socialization than anything else can do. The strength of community organization is found in the growing degree of social consciousness and of social responsibility that is engendered in the working together of persons for community ends. Community recreation that secures the participation of 5,000 people in an historical pageant arouses a social consciousness that cannot be secured outside of participation in a common undertaking for social purposes.

The most important work is that produced in common, produced by common stimulation, and not that of one person doing the thinking for his whole group [13] If all the membership of any group contributes new suggestions to the best of their ability, each in so doing stimulates all the rest to still greater contributions. It is by this type of participation that the highest phase of stimulation, invention, and individuality is achieved, and that socialization reaches its highest levels.


The group itself as well as the individual may become socialized. Whether of a family or a nation the socialized group is not being realized until the socially constructive development of all its human units is continuously taking place, and until they act habitually in harmony with

( 232) the larger group or groups of which their group is a part. The socialization of a group is the process whereby the members change from a loose heterogeneity to an organized homogeneity, with authority distributed to each, with each functioning fully in the group enterprises, and with the main purposes of the group centered outside itself and harmonized with the welfare of all democratic groups, even of humanity itself. A completely socialized nationality, for example, is one which acts more or less habitually according to world determined sets of standards.


The organization and development of innate impulses and mechanisms into a socialized personality is the highest product of intersocial stimulation.

The consciousness of self arises when the individual finds himself set off in any way against other human beings.[14] To the infant, everything is first of all objective. Even his fingers and toes seem to him to belong to an outside world. But when these fingers or toes are pinched or burned, they are given a "self" valuation by the owner. Through his experiences, his conflicts with other individuals, his defeats at the hands of others, and his sufferings in general, the child gradually builds up two worlds, an ego world and an alter world with its increasing number of vitally interesting human units. In this way he sets up a self-world in apposition to an others-world, and his life develops its subjective phases.

Even the teaching about God has little meaning to the child until he suffers pain or loss that neither he nor his parents can absolve; then he begins to "pray" in earnest for aid, and in so praying, God becomes a tangible entity and the child's personality becomes more specific to him.

The individual's views of himself and of other selves are not disjunctive but rather opposite ends of the same pole of growth, that is of personality. With the growth of personality there always arises this bipolarism. From one extremity of the bi-polar psychical life there emanates a recognition of the ways in which one's self is different from other selves—individuality. This individuality comprises chiefly responses which are different from those of other persons. A human action may be followed docilely by one person, but another may act pugnaciously, thus giving him as far as one particular experience goes, a marked individuality.

( 233) No two human beings seem to inherit precisely the same types of basic neural mechanism; they do not seem to be organized in exactly the same ways ; their development under the influence of similar environments is not wholely the same ; moreover, no two individuals have exactly the same environments.

From the other pole of bi-polar personality there springs an awareness of the particulars in which one possesses kindred interests with others, a general trait which may be called sociality. Because of experiences, social contacts, and stimuli which are similar, individuals develop similar reactions to life. Since their ancestors were likewise placed, they have inherited similar neural mechanisms, and hence they respond in pretty much the same way to the deepest experiences of life, of defeat and victory, of sickness and suffering.

The interstimulation between the ego and alter poles of self results in the development of both. The process is one; as a result of the intersocial stimulation between human beings the ego and alter of each evolve together up or down. The tendency for the ego to dominate is strong and unless a person's social understanding and his sense of fitness in a social world is well developed, it will control, giving him a highly selfish slant. In some persons, however, the alter secures an irrational control and through extra-rational sympathetic reactions prompts the individual na´vely to throw himself to the tigers like Buddha rather than help to destroy tigers and thus make the world safe for the social.

The social consciousness of the child arises simultaneously with the development of his self consciousness, although the former may be a little ahead of the latter at any particular time. But for the presence, activities, and stimulations of other individuals, one's awareness of self would remain undeveloped. The stimuli which call forth self consciousness are caused by one's social contacts, that is, by intersocial stimulation. The degree to which self consciousness becomes organized depends in part upon the assertive impulses, the desire for new experience, and upon the stimuli of one's social environments. If the original nature of the child bristles with aggressive impulses, his social contacts will produce an exaggerated self assertion, counter suggestion, over-bearing attitudes, pugnaciousness, and even anti-social behavior. For such individuals, socio-mental interactions hold the extremes of social development in store, and the nature of the social contacts becomes exceedingly important.

As the child learns the meaning of life through his experiences, he reads those meanings into the activities of other persons. He projects his interpretations into the folks about him—this is the projective phase of

( 234) personality. The projection usually takes place along horizontal planes of behavior. A person tends to throw himself out along his occupational and social status levels; he fails to understand the behavior of those whose status is markedly more complex or simpler than his own. Consequently, the tendencies toward the growth of horizontal personalities are greater than the tendencies in other directions.[15]

To the growing personality every new phenomenon of life observed is at first objective and almost, if not entirely meaningless; then through experiences, particularly suffering, life becomes subjective and full of vital significance; and finally through projection of meaning it becomes social, and perhaps socialized.[16] This process may be called one of social self-development. Thus, throughout life personality may grow richer and greater.

A boy will see a look on his father's face and not understand what it means. Later he may discover that same look on his own face, realize that it is a token of distress, and thereafter project that meaning wherever he encounters that look. Thus he becomes expert in reading signs and in finding personality behind looks, gestures, attitudes. In other words, as long as phenomena are purely objective, one can hardly comprehend them. Through experiencing them, they become subjective, and highly so if that experience involves suffering, for suffering seems to produce a high degree of emotional discharge. Then, and then only, can one truly project his personality helpfully into the lives of other persons; then can one truly sympathize ; can one truly feel "the pulse of mankind ;" and become akin to all people everywhere. Here is found an answer to Job's question: Why must an innocent man suffer? It is because even a man innocent of sin, will slip back into unduly self-centered attitudes, and hence sinful ones, unless through suffering he is repeatedly forced out into contact with the sufferings of mankind.

Dependable personality is psychical ; socialized personality is psychical and moral. Strength of character is not enough, for a criminal may have strength of character but use it in anti-social ways. Education does not necessarily give social reliability, because education may train the individual only in self-strength, self-culture, and show him how to manipulate his fellows to his advantage and to their loss. "Why did you come to college ?" I asked a young man of strong character some time ago, and

( 235) he frankly replied, "So that I can learn how to use other people to my personal gain." This statement sounds anti-social and exceptional, and yet if frankness prevailed, many people and even institutions would give evidence of using their fellows for gain.

Socialization tends toward moralization, says C. A. Ellwood.[17] To the extent that a person identifies himself with all mankind, socialization actually attains moralization. He holds himself responsible for the welfare of other persons.[18] T. G. Soares states that one is socialized when he regards the development of other persons as well as himself as ends, "never using anyone simply as a means, and finds his own welfare in the welfare of every group to which in any wise he belongs, even the great human group in its entirety." [19]

The socialized personality is produced in an educational atmosphere in which the increasing welfare of mankind is constantly sought. In a social life, the only life we know—honesty, reliability, balance, chastity, courage of convictions, are essential. The individual develops socially dependable habits first through his relationships in his home group and then his play group, even in the "gang ;" then through his relationships in larger groups, for example, his occupational group, where he may exemplify a high degree of occupational ethics; then in his actions involving national welfare where he reaches levels of patriotism; and also in the world group where his sense of social responsibility attains universal proportions. The socialized person, therefore, is not fully developed until all these various group standards become organized into a harmoniously concentric system. Park and Burgess refer to socialization as being achieved when all persons "live together as members of one family."[20]

Socialization involves one's attitudes toward all groups, from the family to humanity. It is not enough to hold a socialized attitude toward the members of one's family, and antagonistic attitudes toward the neighborhood. It is not sufficient to act in socialized ways toward one's nation, and in a non-co÷perative way toward the world. Socialization includes habitual responses of wholesome co÷peration toward every group, smallest to largest, and toward all persons everywhere at least to the extent that they show signs of genuine social responsibility.

The best way to understand the socialization process is to consider the experiences of persons who have manifestly developed a broad social

( 236) vision and understanding. The following set of experiences will illustrate the method. A young woman born in the Middle West and now living on the Pacific Coast had been taught to hate immigrants, but in a series of experiences her race prejudice was modified and even sublimated into a generous racial sympathy. Her story begins not simply on an unsocial level but far below and ends on a high plane of socialization. The experiences which effected the change were as follows :

I was persuaded by a friend to visit a social settlement and while there consented to take a class of Italian girls. As I came to know these girls personally, I became interested in their problems and to admire them in many ways. They were appreciative and surprised me again and again by their responses to my suggestions. The life of my friend who was a social settlement resident impressed me greatly, especially her devotion to the immigrants and their great loyalty to her. Then, I overheard some foreign-born parents tell how they had been scorned by Americans and even exploited, and my sense of fair play was aroused in their behalf. I began to see some of the disadvantages which were theirs. I took some courses in sociology which gave me an acquaintance with the cultural backgrounds of several races, and which aroused my interest in them and their problems. I began to see the fallacy, in the statement of the man who said he was 200 per cent American and hated everybody. Finally, I made some friendships in college with foreign students and found among them as fine young people as I had ever met. I still see the faults of immigrants, but find that on the whole immigrants are no worse than we are, and that they are human beings at heart pretty much like us. Before I left college I was elected president of the Cosmopolitan Club, and since leaving I have helped to organize an interracial committee for the discussion of racial problems in our town on the basis of good will and co÷perative activity.

Socialization does not imply an objective social control so much as socialized self control. A person achieves habits of acting for the welfare of others, and comes to occupy a position inclusive of social control. Personality moves up from a lowly position under social discipline, law and control, to a rank far above. A person can control himself to social ends better than society can do so by ordering him. He thus may develop a high degree of socialized self direction.

Socialization seeks unity of purpose, not uniformity of personality.[21] The aim is not to make all persons alike in methods or traits, but in attitude, of having a sincere social welfare attitude of life. Let each one remain different, let his unique traits be developed to their fullest extent, providing they be dedicated in thought and action to the welfare of others without anticipation of personal gain. Socialization would not reduce people to a dead level of monotony; it would secure better than any

( 237) other method the fullest development of personality dedicated to the single purpose of human welfare. Under socialization everyone stimulates everyone else to the largest and richest expansion of his whole nature through centering its activities in the welfare of other persons and of groups.


1. Socialization is the chief process and result of intersocial stimulation.

2. Socialization arises out of (1) original social nature, (2) the sympathetic emotions, (3) the social imagination, (4) the desires for response and recognition, (5) social habits, (6) communication, (7) social understanding, and (8) co÷perative activities.

3. To any individual, life is first objective; through experience it becomes subjective, and then, projective and possibly socialized.

4. Socialization does not imply an objective social control but a socialized self control.

5. Socialization seeks unity not uniformity of type; it stimulates uniqueness and talent into its fullest development rather than seeks a leveling down.

6. Socialization implies the development of the richest social attitudes habitually established toward all persons and groups.


1. What is socialization?

2. Explain the connection between socialization and (1)original human nature, (2) the sympathetic emotions, (3) the social imagination, (4) desire for response, (5) social habits, (6) communication, (7) social understanding, and (8) co÷perative activity.

3. Distinguish between the subjective and projective phases of personality.

4. What is the relation of socialization to moralization?

5. What is the difference between objective social control and socialized self control?

6. Explain : socialization seeks unity of purpose but not uniformity of personality.


1. Why is character socially essential?

2. Are all dependable persons social?

( 238)

3. Are all social persons dependable?

4. Why have not more socially dependable persons been produced by our educational system in the United States?

5. Why is a socialized personality the highest standard to be obtained?

6. Show that a group may be unsocial or anti-social, even when the members are prevailingly social.

7. Grade in order of ability to co÷perate: unskilled laborers, farmers, college students, housewives, lawyers.

8. Give reasons why socialization is the chief of all social processes.

9. Can you indicate a more important social process than socialization?


Bolton, T. L., "Some Social Laws of Personal Growth," Jour. of Pedagogy, XIX, No. i.

Burgess, Ernest W., The Function of Socialization in Social Evolution (University of Chicago Press, 1916).

Ellwood, C. A., Christianity and Social Science (Macmillan, 1923), Ch. III.

Giddings, F. H., Studies in the Theory of Human Society (Macmillan, 1922), pp. 287-290.

Ross, E. A., Principles of Sociology (Century, 1920), Ch. XXXII.


  1. Principles of Sociology (Century, 1920), p. 395.
  2. Theory of Socialization (Macmillan, 1897), p. 2. Also see Giddings' description of socialization in his Studies in the Theory of Human Society Macmillan, 1922), pp. 287-290.
  3. The Function of Socialization in Social Evolution (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1916), p. 2.
  4. Christianity and Social Science (Macmillan, 1923), p. 65.
  5. Ibid., p. 66; cf. Blackmar and Gillin, Outlines of Sociology (Macmillan, 1923), Ch. XVII.
  6. See Chapter I.
  7. M. P. Follett, The New State (Longmans, Green: 1918), Ch. IV.
  8. Cf. Chapter III.
  9. See Chapter IV.
  10. See Chapter X.
  11. SeeChapter III.
  12. W.M. Wheeler, Social Life Among the Insects (Harcourt, Brace: 1923), pp. 4, 5.
  13. M. P. Follett, The New State, p. 34.
  14. It was this process which was first analyzed by J. M. Baldwin, Social and Ethical Interpretations (Macmillan, 1897), Ch. I., and which later was developed by C. H. Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order (Scribners, 1902), Chs. I, V, VI.
  15. Cf. the discussion of the spheric self, linear self, flat self, vein self, star self, by E. A. Ross, Principles of Sociology (Century, 1920), 411 ff.
  16. Cf. the discussion of the social self by C. H. Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order, Chs. V, VI;Social Organization, Chs. I, II;and J. M. Baldwin, Social and Ethical Interpretations, Ch. I.
  17. "Christianity and Social Science (Macmillan, 1923), p.65.
  18. Ibid.
  19. The Social Institutions and Ideals of the Bible (Abingdon Press, 1915), p. 376.
  20. Introduction to the Science of Sociology (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1921), p. 496.
  21. C.A. Ellwood, Christianity and Social Science, p. 72.

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