Bambi Chapin, Christine El Ouardani and Kathleen Barlow

in Anthropology

ISBN: 9780199766567
Published online January 2016 | | DOI:

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  • Anthropology
  • Human Evolution
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Socialization refers to the process through which people develop culturally patterned understandings, behaviors, values, and emotional orientations. The meaning of the term overlaps with “enculturation” (the process through which children first internalize culture), “acculturation” (the process through which people adopt new cultural models and ways of behaving), and “subject formation” (the process through which subjectivity is shaped). Although much of the literature on socialization has focused on childhood and adolescence, the development and socialization of the individual continues throughout the life course—a life course in which stages such as childhood, adolescence, and adulthood are themselves culturally variable. Early work on the topic of socialization attended to what was done to novices in order to mold their behavior and instill cultural beliefs and values. More recent work has recognized that socialization is an active process through which children and other novices develop particular patterns of thinking, behaving, and feeling in interaction with others. In this process, novices are active agents, interpreting, developing responses, and pursuing their own goals, although this work is not necessarily done consciously. The interactions through which people are socialized may occur as part of marked rituals, structured institutional involvement, or informal everyday activities. They may produce outcomes that socializers desire, but this is not always the case. Recent work has also emphasized the way in which these socializing interactions are historically situated within changing social, economic, and political processes. While anthropologists have done much work investigating and conceptualizing socialization as a process that varies across cultural contexts, developmental psychologists, educators, and sociologists—some of whom are included in this article—have also contributed to this effort. In what follows, significant works on socialization within anthropology are grouped according to central themes. Issues of gender, race/ethnicity, and class are addressed in many of the texts and cut across thematic groupings. Some of the authors of the texts included here would not necessarily position themselves as studying “socialization”; however, they all provide important accounts of how people are shaped through interaction in a necessarily social world.

Article.  16050 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology ; Human Evolution ; Medical Anthropology ; Physical Anthropology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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