Essay on Erikson’s theory of socialization


The essay deals with the practical side of the theory of socialization and examines the examples of learning experiences analyzed from the point of Erikson’s theory of socialization. The stages of the process are emphasized as well.


            Socialization is referred as a process through which people acquire knowledge, skills, values, motivations and role which are necessary for their life in a certain social group or society (Jackson, 2010). Socialization takes place in the process of communication and interaction with other people.  During the process of socialization an individual learns to associate himself with a certain social group and to demonstrate his competence in it. Jackson (2010) emphasizes that socialization takes place in various contexts which involve family, professional, organizational, gender, language. Other contexts include parental one, political, racial and consumer socialization. Generally socialization refers to the process of individual adaptation to behave in accordance with a certain culture and establishing his behaviour in accordance with expectations, values and norm of the community an individuals lives in. There are many every day situations which demonstrate the process of socialization. Two of such examples are going to be provided.

Who must go through socialization first?

The incident was observed in the local park. A mother and a grandmother were in the park with a child. It was a six year old boy. The boy was communicating and playing with other children while two women were watching him. Suddenly the boy pronounced ”˜bad words’. Some of the children as well as their parents started feeling rather confused about the situation. Other children just could not understand what the words meant and were looking at their parents with a question on their eyes. Most of the parents hurried to take their children somewhere away from the boy. However, the boy’s mother did not react to the incident. She kept silent and did not even apologize for her child’s behaviour before the other parents. There were not remarks from other children’s parents as well. Perhaps, everyone supposed that the mother was going to react somehow, talking to her child, explaining something to him. At that moment the boy’s grandmother started to admonish the mother as she had not reacted to his child behavior and had not even tried to explain him how to behave and what words must not be used. Of course, the boy himself was not aware of what the words meant and he continued to play feeling quite happy. The grandmother started quarrelling with her daughter and actually even shouted at her quite loudly. The boy did not pay much attention to the quarrel. It was evident that he often observed such incidents between his mother and grandmother. Both women were rather angry, took the boy and went home. The grandmother promised her grandson to talk to him at home about his behavior.

Parents are the best agents of learning process

The second incident happed at the cinema. Everybody was sitting and watching a cartoon. It was ”˜The Lorax’. There were mostly parents who came with their children. The cartoon addressed that problem of the environment protection and people’s attitude to the problem. There was a mother and a daughter, about 5 years old, sitting next. Most of the children watched silently but this girl was constantly asking her mother a lot of questions about the characters, the events and was trying to refer the situation described in the cartoon to reality. Mother spoke to her in a low voice providing her comments and explaining her everything she was interested to know. The girl tried to share all her thoughts with her mother and was searching for her approval and support. Their talking was heart during the cartoon all the time. After the cartoon was over they continued their discussion. The mother asked the girl to discuss the cartoon with the father at home and tell him everything she had seen and understood.


Analysis of the incidents

Analyzing both incidents, it should be noted that these situations should be observed from two sides.

According to Erikson’s psychosocial theory of socialization (Salkind, 2004), it is necessary to mention that one hand the incident demonstrates learning the cultural component of behavior by little children. The result of boy’s behavior was that most of the parents took their children away from the boy having explained that the words he had used were bad and must not be use in communication. Thus, children were taught the cultural component of behavior (communication). The children’s parents became the agents of learning. This episode refers to Erikson’s psychological theory of socializing and demonstrates the third stage of socializing aimed at developing skills of learning and realization of punishment in case of failure ”˜initiative vs. guilt’ stage It demonstrates learning the component of parents’ behavior on the example of the mother as a learner and the grandmother as an agent. The episode relates to Erikson’s theory as he emphasizes that the process of socializing takes place during all our life instead of early age as Freud claimed in his theory (Saracho, 2007). The situation refers to Erikson’s seventh stage of socializing ”˜generativity vs. stagnation’.

The second situation with the mother and the daughter in the cinema refers to Erikson’s third stage of socializing ”˜initiative vs. guilt’ which is realized throughout the plot and the idea of the cartoon. The learner is the daughter and it is necessary to identify two agents in this episode. They are the cartoon and the mother. As mother’s role should also be taken into consideration as she interacted with her daughter trying to give her explanations and to teach the things and ideas which were too complicated for the girl.


Socializing should be seen as long and complex process which continues through human life and make people to improve their skills and knowledge in accordance with the requirements of the community they live in. There are various theories of socializing. However, all the theories are based on the statement that individuals socialize through interaction with other people in different contexts. The approaches to the stages of socialization differ.

Socializing is a part of our daily routine and most of our every day experience can be observed as the process of socializing. It is important to analyse our experiences and establish better identification with our community.

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