The paper "Socialization from Infancy" is a worthy example of a term paper on sociology. Socialization is an important social process. Majority of the characteristics adopted by human beings is because of socialization. Socialization is said to begin at birth, and others suggest that it begins even before birth. In the context of gender roles socialization, there are remarkable features at each stage of development that define the gender roles of a male or female. However, traditional gender roles are changing and the playing field between men and women has been leveled. Socialization from infancy to old age/adulthood is dominated by the various roles that men and women play.
Socialization from Infancy
Socialization is defined as the process of learning to engage in group life by the acquisition of culture. Socialization is one of the significant processes. Without socialization, human beings cannot take part in group life and thus cannot develop the majority of the characteristics that human beings are associated with. Socialization at levels of human development (infancy, adolescence, and childhood) makes a significant contribution to the development of personality and an individual’s capability to engage in social life (Shepard, 2004).
Socialization is suggested that the process may even start before birth. This is because parents are capable of knowing the gender of the child at the fetus level and begin to speak to the unborn child. In the childhood stage, socialization is marked by learning through play. When parents identify the sex of the baby, the life of the child is largely defined by his or her sex/gender. At the age of two, the child begins to realize that certain activities and objects are appropriate to particular gender roles. In other words, modeling behavior starts to emerge at this stage. The child’s rules are not flexible, but they are universal, for instance, men are the only people who can shave their faces.
Early in childhood, homosocial play begins; that is, the play is characterized by gender segregation. The children play more interactively and actively with same-sex playmates. It is important to note that during the school years, gender roles among the children are used as the measure through which their peers judge them. Violation of these roles usually results in rejection. During the adolescence stage, being male or female is practiced. In this stage, there is the firm establishment of the gender roles; these roles guide the adolescents “through their exploitation of peer relationships and different “love styles” with potential partners” (Carroll, 2009, p108). The major role in the adolescent stage is trying to figure out what being a man or a woman means and an attempt to adapt to that role. Boys rapidly learn how to become popular through such means as becoming interested and good at sports, not becoming overly emotional, and expressing their interest in women and sex (Carroll, 2009).
On the other hand, girls are supposed to exercise a considerable amount of sexual self-control, show their concern with appearance and interest in men. Deviation from gender role behavior among boys results in more severe consequences than when girls deviate. The stage can be very difficult for those who are bisexual, homosexual, or transgendered. Changing roles throughout the years are very confusing for adolescents; this is because adolescent boys and girls receive messages that are contradicting. For instance, conventional male attitudes value suppression of emotions, sexual relationship control, and sex achievement. Today, heterosexual boys approached by the girls are not necessarily sexually experienced, and it is expected of them to be sensitive to female equality issues. Although the playing field between the sexes has been leveled by all these changes, it is still difficult for them to enter sexual adulthood (Carroll, 2009).
Families and careers characterize adulthood; as both women and men enter adulthood, they tend to get their gender identity from two realms – family lives and careers. For many years, men have been encouraged to develop their careers and women to find jobs that would engage them until the period of marriage and children. Men are socialized into a number of career choices, and society teaches them that career accomplishment is a measure of their value. However, men and women workplace roles are changing, and women are moving into careers that have been dominated by men for many years (Carroll, 2009).
To take part in group life, an individual must associate with others. Socialization is an important element in human development, and unique features characterize it in each stage of development. From infancy to adulthood, socialization is characterized by homosocial play and modeling behavior. In adolescence, identity is an important factor in socialization. Family lives and careers dominate the adulthood stage. Thus, at each stage, there are unique characteristics that define socialization.