Culture and socialisation are the two major entities that help shape our identity. The culture one is raised in as a child, and the people we come into contact with in our daily lives, can all be classified as encounters we have with socialisation. As young children who enter this world, we imitate those close to us and behaviours begin to form. It is through this imitation we also discover to express our emotions. These characteristics are engrained in us from a young age and are the major basic building blocks to help us develop our individual identities.
What we come to see in our everyday lives and interaction with other people on a regular basis, has a much greater influence over us, particularly in our younger years, when we are constantly learning about our culture, environment and the people involved in our lives on a regular basis. Ken Plummer also highlights the great need and importance of this for a young child on early socialisation and the negative effects that an un-socialised individual may confront.
Our parents teach us the actions that are acceptable in society, these behaviours often become habit and dictate how we conduct ourselves and communicate with others. The mother or guardian and child bond is particularly strong and so from birth the child learns to imitate its mother, this is the earliest and most consistent socialisation the child receives and therefore is most important. The words of Kim Atkins come to mind when stressing the importance of the mother/child bond, “human beings come into existence quite literally through the bodies of our other human beings, and our early survival depends upon the most intimate human interactions.” (Narrative Identity and Moral Identity: A Practical Perspective, Kim Atkins 2008, p.1.) The ideas of George Herbert Mead (1863 – 1932) also suggest that the child’s ideas about the world begin when the child starts to “realise there is something beyond its own world of instinctual gratification, as it comes to recognise and identify with the faces and hands around it (on which it depends). (Sociology: The basics, Ken Plummer 2010, p. This early socialisation isn’t just restricted to one or two communities but is a worldwide phenomenon and disregards class or social structure, although the process of socialisation itself may differ.
A newly born baby, full of bodily desires, is a very human animal – but it is not a very social one. As every good parent across the world knows, it takes a while to train a baby and to help to make it properly social. This process – early or primary socialisation – is done very differently across different cultures and across histories: children are raised by wet nurses, nannies, in communes and large families, by single parents, residential homes and so on. And much research which charts how children come to construct their language, their sense of self and their social habits – for good and bad. Many studies of feral children left living in isolation and...