On Socialization

Socialization is the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society). According to most social scientists, socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout life and is a central influence on and predictor of the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children.

Socialization is a process, the goal of which is a set of desirable ( or moral and ethical ) personal traits and characteristics in the collective opinion of said society or group.

Individual views on certain issues, such as race or economics, are influenced by the view of the society at large and become a norm, and acceptable outlook or value to have within a society.

The development of those aspects is part of the establishment of social constructions, which arise out of the process of socialization.

Socialization provides only a partial explanation for human beliefs and behaviors, as scientific research shows that people are shaped by both social influences and genes, with genetic studies showing that a person’s environment interacts with their genotype to influence behavioral outcomes, and multiple brain studies demonstrating that brain development and structure is plastic, and changes and alters according to the environment as well. For example, extreme forms of antisocial disorders are always predicated on both psycho-social factors as well as environmental and physiological factors — if any given part is missing, then the developmental course is thrown off.

Socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults and children.

Socialization is not just limited to the particulars of a culture or social milieu.  It is also part of how we fall into in groups and out groups — it is the basis of identity politics efforts such as Anti-racism, Feminism, and LGBT rights, for example — and affects the way in which we find common ground among others whom we seek to bond with in a relationship, be it ideological, familiar, or friendship.

What that last paragraph means is that when we find a group of people we want to be a part of — say, for example, radical feminists or Christian conservatives — we are socialized into the norms for that specific group and that particular aspect.

This quality is often called and described as being religious in appearance (cult-like), when, in fact, it is simply part of the learning and adaptation process that is called socialization.

Socialization is inescapable.  It teaches and establishes the social constructions of the particular social milieu, and starts to do so at a young age, using positive, negative, and neutral reinforcement as necessary, and never ends — those who are reading this are, in fact, being socialized even as they read it, and this is important to realize:

Socialization is constant and not something engraved wholly in stone. There is no specific kind of socialization, such as “male” or “female” there is only the socialization, and the individual person accrues the fullness of it along multiple points (there is also no such thing as “white” or “black”, as Rich or Poor, etc).

Socialization relies on social constructs and linguistic pragmatics to achieve a particular set of collectively approved of views, outlooks, and ways of thinking, which in turn color and influence the behaviors and interactions of individuals, and govern the whole of that culture.

Persons who resist and are not ideally suited to those norms are stigmatized to some extent or other, with particular levels of stigma being greater or lesser and also cumulative within that.

Socialization affects our language, the way we perceive the world around, the way we perceive others, but it does not always affect the way that we see ourselves, which is one of the more interesting quirks to it,.  We often find ourselves at a loss to describe ourselves without using the socially constructed and heavily socialized terms that are permissible, and so fall back to the normative terminology because trying to explain it otherwise is a challenge that most of us do not have the requisite facility or skill to figure a way around, and the social disapproval for trying to establish new terminology stands in the way unless we have a widely and socially approved forum within which to do so.

Stigma is tied to privilege — stigma is the antithesis of stigma. Where stigma is blame, privilege is freedom from such,.  Where stigma is shame, privilege is pride. Stigma is the cause of ostracism, which is a shaming aspect meant to punish and is ultimately proven to be harmful and a form of violence.

Privilege is the freedom from such.

So, in just a few paragraphs, one can see that Socialization, Privilege, Stigma, Ostracism (and therefore, prejudice and bigotry which use it as a tool for reinforcement of in group and out group membership), Social constructions, and much, much more are all interlinked and part of a constantly changing, constantly present, constantly extant series of adaptations and experiences that shape us both physiologically and socially.

Human beings need social interaction.  It is an essential part of our physiological existence, and a core part of our fundamental evolutionary advantages that have led us to the point we are now.

It also demonstrates that if socialization is a lifelong process that alters and changes us throughout our lives, that it cannot be a fixed quality, and that the notion that once one is “socialized a certain way” becomes obviously flawed and fundamentally wrong, as the very idea of socialization is premised on the fact that we do change and we do shift.

Which, in turn, means that when someone uses the argument that trans women are not women because they were socialized as men, and that as such, they cannot ever be anything other than men, what they are doing is telling you that they do not understand what socialization is, and they are ignoring a fundamental aspect of socialization itself, which is that their thinking that way is part of the same system of socialization that they are condemning,

Thus, doing so is an act of using institutional (societal) power in an intentional way to cause harm to a group of people.

Which is violence.

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