Exploring Socialisation Culture and Identity - OCR G671

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  • Created on: 25-04-14 08:38

Formation of Culture

Defining Culture - (Hall) Sees culture as a shared meaning

Kluckhohn - Culture is a way of life

High Culture - Identified with highly gifted artists, seen as a minority pursuit. Enojyed by people with sophisticated tastes.

Popular Culture - Seen as the oppostite of High Culture who look down at it (Strinati). Is the population of the masses (Adorno)

Norms - Are social expectations that are shared in society. (Elias) Norms about personal hygene.

Values - Things society regards as important.

Consumer Culture - The idea that people express identity through the things they buy and use.

Global Culture- Globalisation that brings the world together. (Ritzer) McDonaldisation.

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Identity & Subcultures


Identity refers to the way we see ourselves in relation to other people.

Cecil - Religion seen as creating an us vs them scenario


Cultures have become so diverse it has become harder to narrow each culture down. There are many subcultures that share norms and values with mainstream culture but also have their own identity

Arnett - Study into metal heads and their norms and values.

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Perspectives on Culture

Functionalism - Based on cooperation and each part of society has a particular function. Based on cohesion and harmony. All the different institutions in society fit together and work together.

Marxism - Society is based on capatilism. The rich ruling class has conflict with the poor exploited workers. Marxists believe society is in conflict.

Feminism - See gender system as the main cause of conflict in society. Society is based on patriarchy and that women are exploited while society benefits males.

Postmodernism - Flexibility and freedom with society. There has been a transistion in recent years. Move to a more popular culture where people have more freedom. Diversity is seen as a norm.

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Social Control

Social control refers to the methods employed to ensure that people comply with society's rules and regulations.

Formal Social Control - through institutions like police, army and teachers

Informal Social Control - Everyone in society contributes through positive and negitive sanctions

Berger's 4 methods:

  • Physical - violence and threat of physical force
  • Economic - The loss of money of occupation threat
  • Social - Desire to be accepted by others
  • Socialisation - Taught through socialisation the norms and values of society
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Types of Socialisation

Primary - The early years of life, taught by our parents

Secondary - From later in life from a range of people, can provide as a support to primary

Re-Socialisation - Having to learn new norms and values when we have a new role

Socialisation occurs through three main methods:

Imitation- Copying others

Roles models - Modelling yourself on others

Sanctions - Positive and negitive reinforcements of your behaviour

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Agents of Socialisation - Family

Family life has become more diverse however still performs primary socialisation

  • Oakley - Family 'manipulate' children into gender roles.
  • McRobbie and Garber- Family treat girls different to boys. They get more sanctions but less freedom
  • Anwar - Asian parents expect more loyalty therefore there is an ethnic difference
  • Drury - 1/5 of asian girls are dating behind their families back
  • Dunne - Homosexual parents have children that are more tolerant and accepting
  • Gottman - Children raised by homosexual parents are no more likely to be gay
  • Furedi - Role of a 'good' parent has changed. Now they try to protect from dangers of society

Counters about the family

  • Palmer - Family has become less important as children use video games and internet.
  • Murray - Single parents and homosexual parents are inadequate socialisers
  • Brannen - Beanpole family
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Agents of Socialisation - Education

Children in western society must undergo a long period of formal education which is a form of secondary socialisation and teaches them norms and values through sanctions and other techniques

  • Functionalists - Hidden curriculum teaches children the values of hard work
  • Skelton - Schools had to socialise children properly as inadequate parents didn't
  • Cicourel and Kituse - Self fulfilling prophecy and labelling. Judgment of pupils

Evaluation of education

It is hard to judge whether schools are becoming more important or not, some believe that society is based on qualifications so pupils are working harder than ever. On the other hand some pupils have different values than the school therefore education has to compete with peer groups and mass media.

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Agents of Socialisation - Peer Groups

Peer groups are friendship groups that are formed by people roughly the same age and social postion. They are highly critised by parents for having a negative influence on children.

  • Adler and Adler - Having friends and feeling popular made children feel good about themselves but exclusion did the opposite, there are hierachy between groups and within groups.
  • Hey - Girl's relationships, girls had strict expectations and anyone not conforming would be bullied.
  • Renold - Boys would hide academic success to avoid teasing from peers therefore demonstrating how children highly value peers over education.
  • Sewell - Black boys were influenced and focussed on media stars
  • Jackson - Lad and Ladette encouraged rebellion
  • Jacobson - Muslims stayed in peer groups with their own religion

Evaluation of Peer Groups

Peer groups tend to be focused on teens and children as they spend increasing time away from their family. This could lead to new norms and values being learnt that their family wouldn't want.

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Agents of Socialisation - Mass Media

The mass media tend to have a hypodermic needle effect meaning we accept what they are telling us

  • Ferguson - between 1949 and 1980 womans magazine promoted being a home maker and married
  • McRobbie - Since the 1980s woman have been encouraged to be confident and supportive
  • Gauntlett - Magazines encourage women to be sexual aggressors rather than sexual objects
  • Sewell - Study into young black boys take on role models within the media.
  • Poole - Negative representations of Muslims in the media creates stereotypes
  • Butler - Elderly represented as helpless
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Agents of Socialisation - Religion

The different world religions have had a big influence on the societies in which they are dominant within.

  • Butler - Muslims modifying their religious identity to fit in with British culture

Secularisation - The idea that religion is taking a less important role in society as people are valuing less and not going to church or being socialised to be religious.

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Agents of Socialiastion - Work

When we enter the workforce we have to be introduced to the skills, norms and values attached to the job, it could be a case of resocialisation

  • Formal Socialisation - Dress codes and rules enforced by management
  • Informal Socialisation - Socialised by peer groups at work

Key theories

  • Waddington - Canteen culture, sharing stories with other employees
  • Skeggs - Women resocialised into new behaviours and roles.
  • Oakley - Women have to do lots of domestic work
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Social Class Identity - Upper Class

Less than 1% of the population are upper class according to Roberts. Members enjoy tremendous priviledges of wealth and prestige. High social closure.

  • Landowning aristocrats - Old titled families and large land owners
  • Entrepreneurs - People who run large successful buissnesses
  • Jet Setters - Made money through sport or entertainment, usually celebrities

Studies on the Upper Class

  • Rojek -  values of entrepreneurs focused on work whereas aristocrats value tradition
  • Scott - Social cohesion through kinship and educational connections
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Social Class Identity - Middle Class

It is difficult to define the middle class due to two main reasons:

  • The middle class come from diverse backgrounds
  • The middle class includes a wide range of jobs


  • Roberts - Characterised by a active and diverse range of leisure persuits
  • Chapman - Middle class identified by: Social aspiration, Social anxiety, Domesticity, Conservatism, Social comparability
  • Douglas - middle class parents take more interest in children's education
  • Bourdieu - Schools are essentially focussed on middle class
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Social Class Identity - Working Class

In 1951 the working class took up 75% of the population however over the years it has shrunk to under half. Often children are brought up to have limited aspirations (Billington)

Young and Willmott list the traditional characteristics of working class norms and values as:

  • Male breadwinners
  • Homelife
  • Family life and extended family
  • Close-Knit Community
  • Class Consciousness

Goldthorpe and Lockwood list the modern characteristics of working class norms and values as:

  • Privatism
  • Changing gender roles
  • Materialism
  • Social mobility
  • Leisure persuits
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Social Class Identity - Underclass

The ONS class 8 is known as the underclass where the members are so poor and disadvantage they are under the normal class structure.

New Right theorist Murray makes many conclusions about the underclass

  • Children are socialised into this way of life so the values are passed on from generation to generation without any way of breaking the cycle

Murray also characterises the underclass as:

  • Low skilled and poorly educated
  • Single parent familes are the norm
  • Dependant on welfare
  • High levels of crime
  • Unwilling to get a job
  • Children have discipline issues

Dean and Taylor-Gooby - Most members of the underclass share mainstream norms and values so therefore it is unfair to single them out

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Gender Identity - Sex and Gender

  • Sex - Physical and biological differences between males and females
  • Gender - Cultural expectations attactched to a persons sex

Masculine and Feminine have certain gender stereotypes (Archer and Lloyd)

Biological Determinism - Based on nature and generics

  • Goldberg - Males have an inbuilt dominance tendency which naturally makes them dominant

Social Construction - Gender is based on nurture and socialisation

  • Mead - flexibility of gender. In other cultures roles and expectations are reversed
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Gender Identity - Socialisation

Family (Oakley)

  • Manipulation - Parents encourage or discourage behaviour based on appropriateness of sex 
  • Canalisation - Channel intrests into toys and activities seen as normal for that sex.


  • Skelton - Stereotypes maintained in school. Boys were called 'you' whereas girls called 'darling'

Peer Group

  • Connell - Boys socialised into hegemonic masculinity
  • Renold - Boys tried to perform hegeomonic masculinity in order to fit in

Mass Media

  • Tunstall - In 1960s and 70s woman represented as housewives
  • Gauntlett - Increase in main characters being female
  • McRobbie - Magazines encourage women to be assertive and confident
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Gender Identity - Socialisation 2


  • Billington - Males identity dependant on job whereas women's is shaped around domestic jobs


Miller and Hoffman identify two main explanations for gender difference:

  • Differential Socialisation - Females taught to be more submissive, passive and nurturing
  • Differential Roles - Females have lower rates of partcipation in paid work so have spare time
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Gender Identity - Masculinity

Connell believes men are traditionally socialised into hegemonic masculinity however in recent years there have been new types of masculinity found.

  • Complicit - Men who believe roles should be shared in the family
  • Subordinate - Homosexual men
  • Marginalised - Response to the fact that the traditional masculine identity is changing.

The New Man (1980s)

The idea that men are starting to become non sexist, non aggresive and a male who was sensitive caring. But in the 1990s this image died out due to the increase in yobbish lads where it became a norm to be aggressive.

  • Jackson - Uncool to be geeky or succeed in school
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Gender Identity - Femininity

Postmodernists argue that the changes in gender roles are having a positive effect on female identity. Due to the increasing success and participation of women in the world of paid work.

  • Sharpe - Young women are becoming assertive about their rights and education/career
  • Wilkinson - Feminisation of the workplace and a genderquake.
  • Walter - Women still don't have equal access to top jobs and still expected to take domestic role 

There is a large difference between traditional female identity and modern identity, womans emancepation can take large credit for this along with other aspects of WILS

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Ethnic Identity - Different Identites

The UK population by ethnic group:

  • White - 92%
  • Mixed - 1%
  • Asian - 3%
  • Black - 2%
  • Other - 1%

Ethnicty refers to cultural distinctiveness based on:

  • Common descent - Represented by colour, race etc.
  • Geographical origins - Links to the country they are from
  • History - Share a struggle or oppression
  • Language - Speak languages from their home country
  • Religion - Religion can be important for some ethnic groups
  • Mason - White british people see ethinicty as something other people have
  • Said - Whites see islam indentity as extreme creating hostility 
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Ethnic Identity - 3 Main Ethnicities

In the Uk there are 3 main ethnic groups, they are White, Asian and Black.

African-Caribbean identities

  • Gilroy - Black people have made a large contribution to mainstream popular culture
  • Alexander - It was seen as an art to be black. Youths had to have a certain style.

Asian identities

  • Religion, extended family and family honour are all valued highly
  • Jacobson - Many young pakistanis are adopting isalamic identity as a defense against racism
  • Poole - Islamaphobia

White Identities

  • Hewitt - The invisible white culture isn't celebrated like others are
  • Mason - Culture is seen as what others have
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Ethnic Idenitity - Socialisation


  • Ghuman - Socialisation of 1st generation: Children loyal, Parents decide education, Parents chose spouse, religiously trained, Bi - Lingual
  • Ghuman  - Mosque centre of muslim communities
  • Anwar - Second generation tension between parents and children
  • Drury - 1/5 of asian girls secretly dating 
  • Modood - 80% of asians feel religion is extremly important (18%B 5%W)


  • Sewell - Anxious about how they are percieved so build a gangsta identity
  • Venkatesh - Hierachy of gangs resemble mainstream companies, promotions/demotions.
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Age Identity - Introduction

Sociologists believe that age is socially constructed, so therefore differ in different societies.

Bradley lists 5 main stages of life:

  • Childhood
  • Youth
  • Young Adulthood
  • Midlife
  • Old Age

Pilcher (Postmodernist) - Divisions and distinctions between age groups are being broken down

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Age Indentity - Youth

Youth is a modern invention in the 19th century due to the lengthening of compulsery education (Aries)

Sociologists on Youth

  • Eisenstadt - Adapted a youth culture focused on popular culture and norms of certain behaviour
  • CCCS(Marxist) - Skinheads dressed to represent defence of territory
  • Cohen - Youth subculture is exaggerated by the media creating moral panics
  • Hall - Youth used as scapegoats
  • Polemus - Youth styles have fluidity
  • Bennet - Neo tribes rather than subcultures due to fashion and consumption rather than politics
  • Mac an Ghail - Youth subcultures fight against racism for young black boys
  • Thornton - Youth want to dress and have differnet style from their parents
  • Hay - Study into girl groups
  • McRobbie and Garber - Bedroom culture for girls
  • Davies - Most young people are hardly distinguishable from their parents
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Age Identity - Middle Age

Middle age is seen to occur around 40 or 50 when norms and values orientate around work and family life. (Victor)

Sociologists on Middle Age

  • Bradley - Middle age given high status in society
  • Blaikie - Maturity, independence, responsibility
  • Sandwhich generation
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Age Identity - Old Age

Old age used to be considered much younger than it is now but due to increase in life expectancy old age is considered to be much older.

  • Victor - Stereotypes of old age: Loneliness, Ill health, Being unable to learn, Being dependant on others
  • Clarke and Warren - People looking forward to the chance to leave work and enjoy themselves, they were sexual active and learning new skills.
  • Butler - Negative stereotypes on television of old people
  • Vincent - Older people are rejected because they don't work.
  • Gannon - Older women rejected based on their age and gender
  • Hockey and James - Older people treated like children, Process called infantilisation
  • Malinowski - sees religion as a function to help deal with life crises facing old people
  • Arber and Ginn - Social isolation
  • Phillipson - Older people enjoy reading, gardening and watching TV
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