What is Primary Socialization in Sociology


A group of people sitting at a table with a city in the background

Primary socialization is the most vital period of development in any child. This is also the stage at which children are able to take responsible, mature behavior into adulthood. It is at this age that children can be said to have developed a sense of who they are and what they want out of life. Throughout this stage, children are developing both their verbal and non-verbal communication as well as their social skills. It is at this critical time that children are able to socially interact with others and learn how to establish and maintain relationships.

About Primary Socialization 

A group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant

At this stage in development, primary socialization occurs. During this time, a child learns the basic actions appropriate to establish and maintain relationships. These actions include showing affection to others, playing nice with others, and understanding and respecting the rights of others. A child also learns the basic concepts of sharing, taking turns, creating rules, communicating, and caring about one’s self and others. Throughout this period, a child continues to practice and hone these skills in an effort to learn how to act appropriately in social situations.

As a result of the socialization process, at this age children continue to develop emotionally, mentally, and physically. At this time a child begins to learn how to respect others and how to express themselves. A child’s self-esteem, confidence, and self-image develop at this time too. In fact, primary socialization takes place at this stage, as children learn to make friends, negotiate their social relationships, form and adapt well-thought out opinions and values, and become willing participants in the larger community.

Stages Of Primary Socialization

A person sitting at a table with wine glasses

Children at this stage of development are also starting to learn about sex. As a result of primary socialization, children at this age have already learned much about body language, facial expression, and personal boundaries. In addition, they have also begun to learn about appropriate verbal responses and how to behave in various social situations. Also, primary socialization helps a child develop his or her emotional vocabulary, as well.

By the end of primary socialization, a child is able to interact constructively with others. He or she has developed important cognitive development skills, such as how to listen, how to share, how to cooperate, and how to make friends. Along with this cognitive development, a child has also developed his or her sense of self worth and has developed self-awareness, self-esteem, and a set of moral values. However, children at this stage of development are still immature and are not completely self-aware. This is what happens when a child interacts with others on his or her own and without any guidance from adults.

Last Part Of Primary Socialization

During the last part of primary socialization, known as the reflective period, children get a little more advice and assistance from their parents or family members. This phase helps them gain more control over their emotions and behavior. The goal here is for children to learn how to set social rules, for instance, how much one is expected to speak in a certain conversation, when a certain activity should be done, where one should go after playtime, and how one’s actions affect other people’s feelings. Learning these rules and norms build on basic self-esteem, self-awareness, and socialization norms that each family member should already know.

Of course, primary socialization in sociology is not the whole story. We also need to learn about the other two types of socialization. These two types are essential to developing healthy, fully functioning individuals. These two types of socialization are distinct and often depend upon the same underlying processes. But primary socialization in itself is usually sufficient for the development of most children.

Final Thoughts

On the other hand, secondary socialization is what occurs when children have difficulties coping with experiences that disrupt their primary socialization in sociology. Secondary socialization can take place through a life experience such as abuse, neglect, or even chronic unemployment. Such life events can seriously impair our children’s ability to understand and make reasonable judgments about appropriate behaviors. These judgments are typically made without the help of parental guidance or advice, and this is where they can become erroneous. There is a lifelong process of correcting these errors, and this is one of the primary functions of socialization.

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