Socialization through the Life Course
This chapter examines childhood socialization. Childhood is a social concept, shaped by historical, cultural, and political influences. The chapter describes the major socializing agents in contemporary US society and explains the processes through which socialization occurs. It also describes the outcomes of socialization in childhood and adolescence and defines the basic influences on the adult life course. The developmental age of the child obviously determines which actions the child can perform. As the interpretive perspective suggests, children learn gender role behaviors and then re-create them, adapting them to their individual social contexts. The chapter discusses some specific outcomes of the socialization process, including gender role, linguistic and cognitive competence, moral development, and orientation toward work. A justice orientation is concerned with adherence to rules and fairness, whereas a caring orientation is concerned with relationships and meeting the needs of others.