Roles of Family in Socialization
Socialization is a process by which culture is transmitted to the younger generation and men learn the rules and practices of social groups to which they belong. The term socialization refers to the process of interaction through which the growing individual learns the habits, attitudes, values, and beliefs of the social group into which he has been born. Every society builds an institutional framework within which socialization of the child takes place. Culture is transmitted through the communication they have with one another and communication thus comes to be the essence of the process of cultural transmission.
The family is rightly called the cradle of social virtues. Family being a mini-society act as a transmission belt between the individual and society. There is no better way to start than to talk about the role of the family in our social development, as a family is usually considered to be the most important agent of socialization. The family plays an outstanding role in the socialization process. The family is the most important agent of socialization because it is the center of the child’s life, as infants are totally dependent on others. Not all socialization is intentional, it depends on the surrounding. Our parents, or those who play the parent role, are responsible for teaching us to function and care for ourselves. They, along with the rest of our family, also teach us about close relationships, group life, and how to share resources.
Family plays the most important role in the formation of personality. Additionally, they provide us with our first system of values, norms, and beliefs – a system that is usually a reflection of their own social status, religion, ethnic group, and more. The family has informal control over its members. It trains the younger generation in such a way that it can take the adult roles in a proper manner. As a family is a primary and intimate group, it uses informal methods of social control to check the undesirable behavior on the part of its members. The parents use both reward and punishment to imbibe what is socially required from a child.
According to Robert. K. Merton, “it is the family which is a major transmission belt for the diffusion of cultural standards to the oncoming generation”. The family serves as “the natural and convenient channel of social continuity. The most profound effect is gender socialization; however, the family also shoulders the task of teaching children cultural values and attitudes about themselves and others. Children learn continuously from the environment that adults create. Children also become aware of class at a very early age and assign different values to each class accordingly.
For example, Alexander, a young boy who lives in America, was born to an immigrant family. He grew up bilingual and was taught the importance of collectivistic values through socialization with his family. This experience differs drastically from someone born to an older, ‘traditional’ American family that would emphasize the English language and individualistic values.
In rural societies, children have most of their early social contact with the family. Today, however, the family’s importance in the child’s life is changing. Although most children growing up today will spend a great deal of time with people other than members of their families, this does not mean that the participation of families in socialization has ended. Still, the family continues to be a major means of passing on values, attitudes, and behaviors.