Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Socialization Experiences among Undergraduate Students in Higher Learning Institutions (HLI)

Written By

Mulusew Birhanu Ayalew

Submitted: 06 June 2021 Reviewed: 21 June 2021 Published: 24 May 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99007

From the Edited Volume

Higher Education - New Approaches to Accreditation, Digitalization, and Globalization in the Age of Covid

Edited by Lee Waller and Sharon Waller

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This work portrays the problems of socialization among undergraduate students in higher learning institutions. The socialization processes in higher learning institution are significant for the successful navigation of students in the academic programs and university environment in preparing the next generation of professional practitioners and scholars. But the undergraduate student socialization experiences of students at university environment are overlooked. To navigate in the higher learning institutions, students should be socialized effectively to the normative contexts of the higher learning institutions. The normative contexts of the higher learning institutions are generally categorized into social and academic contexts, because these context academic and social context integration have been linked to student retention and success. Social integration involves interpersonal relationships, support, interactions with others, and a sense of belonging at a university, which stems from extracurricular activities, informal dealings with peer groups, and interactions with faculty and staff, whereas academic integration is described through grade performance and intellectual development that reflects an ability to meet the standards of the academic system; intellectual development involves a student valuing their education as a process of development in which they gain knowledge and ideas. Students’ background is also the contributing factor for students’ socialization in the University.


  • undergraduate student socialization
  • socialization
  • higher learning institution
  • structuration theory
  • normative contexts
  • integration

1. Introduction

This part of the book is focused on portraying issues regarding the problems of socialization among undergraduate students and the impact on students perceived learning process, social skill, and personal development. Therefore, the major issues included in subsections are the basic concept of socializations, tents and natures of socialization, the process of socialization at a higher learning institution, the review of theoretical foundation of socialization, national and international empirical research result that defines the relevant relationship between pertinent variables on the problems of socialization and the impact on the student perceived learning, social skill, and personal development in higher learning institution. The socialization processes in higher learning institution are significant for the successful navigation of students in the academic programs and university environment in preparing the next generation of professional practitioners and scholars [1]. So, this chapter is needed to examine the problems of socialization among undergraduate students and the impacts on student’s learning process, social skills, and personal development. The concept of socialization, theoretical frameworks for socialization in higher learning institution, and review of empirical studies on students’ socialization experience in the higher learning institutions are included in this chapter.


2. The notion of socialization

Socialization is derived from the Latin word socials (social) understood as the method that endures all through all life and comes from the legacy, learning, and exchange of the mass involvement of mankind information, abilities, standards, values, designs of behavior, etc., which is under the specific conditions of the society to which the person has a place [2, 3]. Stable social order or social cohesion fundamental for the various components of society work together to maintain the status quo, which includes social structures and institutions, social relations, social interactions and behavior, cultural features such as norms, beliefs, and values. This might be also possible general through socialization [4]. This is way socialization become one of the main concerns of sociology to explain how social cohesion or social order is possible [4].

In the socialization processes, individuals and groups are taught the skills, and behavior patterns, values, and motivations are needed for competent functioning in the culture in which they join [5]. There are also the social skills, social understandings, and emotional maturity needed for interaction with other individuals to fit in the functioning of social dyads and larger groups [6, 7]. Socialization accounts for the transmission of culture and the development of an autonomous human being [8]. It is a requirement for the continuity of society and a requirement consistent with our experience as salved beings [5]. Socialization processes include all those whereby culture is transmitted from each generation to the next, including training for specific roles in specific occupations [1]. It is a lifelong process that starts from childhood till the death of a person and a vital process of learning through which society exists [4].

As it is explained in socialization theories of sociology and social psychology, socialization is the process of the individual development of a human personality within a social environment, with specific living conditions [9]. Socialization enables individuals to acquire language, knowledge, social skills, norms, values, and customs that are necessary for participating in and integrating into a group or community [9]. Socialization is a combination of wanted conformity and externally imposed rules, mediated by the expectations of other persons [1]. Thus, socialization influences the sociostructural organization of common existence and simultaneously attains cultural and social continuity. We are made aware of societal values the norms and beliefs of our society and expectations from our earliest family and play experiences [10].

It describes the ways that people come to understand societal norms and expectations, to accept society’s beliefs, to be aware of societal values, and taught to be proficient members of society [11]. It is not simply interacting with others like with families, friends, and coworkers, but also internalizing through socializing agents and the most basic of human activities [11]. Through socialization, individual learn the culture of the society into which we have been born, learn, and work. Without socialization, the individual had not learned the material culture of our society and nonmaterial cultures such as beliefs, values, and norms [12]. Without socialization, most importantly the individual had not learned to use the symbols that make up the language through which we learn about who we are, how we fit with other people, and the natural and social worlds in which we live [6]. The critical period of socialization of individuals begins with the initial information and contact between an individual and an organization and continues until sometime after the individual enters the organization [13]. Therefore, from the initial contact up to the level of effective socialization of individual, there are socialization process and types.


3. Types of socialization

Socialization is not independent and it is difficult to get the distinctive socialization types. An individual may be the subject of primary socialization, but this can be limiting, and there will be gender socialization at the same time. As a result, one aspect of knowledge that is advantageous to all types of social events is its simultaneity [1]. Another point is their interdependence [14]. The socialization types and process are both interdependent, planned and at the same time spontaneous. Because of its nature, we do not have clear types of socialization with its clearly demarcated boundaries [15]. For example, there are also formal and informal types of socialization though there are no clear boundaries on what is formal and informal. Effective socialization can only be achieved through formal socialization. Current trends in education show that this cannot be achieved through restrictive social and especially by participation. At the same time, it cannot make a holistic approach to socialization, even if the intention is an entire range typology. When certain aspects of socialization are deficient, it is good to be studied in specific details, but that is integrated into all elements of socialization [1]. Despite there are such limitations, sociologists and social psychologists have identified the following types of socialization [1].

3.1 Primary socialization

It is fundamental and essential for the harmonious physical and mental development of the child and it is held generally at the family or parents level [16, 17]. Primary socialization involves learning the rules of behavior, norms, and values that can be treated at early ages and the informational and emotional baggage of any person. Primary socialization is equivalent or tantamount to individual humanization [1]. This process of transformation of children into true social human beings is by teaching basic values, through socialization and learning [1]. Primary socialization is a highly emotional process, in contrast to secondary and continuing socialization, which is geared at emotional neutrality. Primary socialization allows children to learn rules of behavior, conventions, and values that can be assimilated at a young age and are part of any individual’s informational and emotional baggage [18]. The primary socialization has a strong maternal character associated with some degree with the father’s influence [1, 19].

As a result, these types of socialization processes demonstrate that the infant is a social entity who forms a social relationship with his mother while still a newborn [20]. From the age of 2 months, both parents establish a social dialog with their children. This conversation will be tailored and reinforced in the next months and years [20]. The content of elementary socialization is organized on the concept of cooperation. The cognitive dimension entails the assimilation of language, which is the most important tool for primary socialization and is located close to the fundamental world. It is the initial way to comprehend the world around you, the contact group, or family group’s interpretation [1].

3.2 Secondary socialization

This types of is the period in which a child begins to interact strongly with other social environments than the family. This type of socialization does not reduce strict in childhood, but it continues throughout the entire life of the individual, with the purposeful creation and strengthening of personality after the primary socialization. In this regard, Goodman defines as cited in [1] this type of socialization continues, identifying it with formal education [1]. As [21] cited in [1] states that secondary socialization is the stage immediately following the primary phase, the young obtains a number of statuses and, as a result, consecutive roles, as well as incorporation into multiple group structures and the larger institution [22]. This sort of socialization occurs in educational institutions, professional, or formal organizations of diverse organizations, and happens in an environment of progressive emotional neutrality as the person grows and matures. Socialization is a gradual process that is influenced by a variety of circumstances whose importance varies from one society to another. The most important factors are family, school, group of friends, work, religion, mass media, etc. [1].

3.3 Continuous socialization

Secondary socialization is achieved from the age of 6 or 7 and adolescents must continue socializing from adolescence to death. Another rationale for socialization delimitation is the molding of the self. If individuals’ emerging self (ego) and personality are created in infancy and adolescence—mostly by absorbing the emotions of others—social mature personality is enhanced through reflection in the mirror, and the focus is now on how the self is presented to others [1].

3.4 Positive socialization

This is sometimes called compatible socialization. Compatible or positive socialization is the process that leads to a person’s conformism to the group or society to which he or she belongs. Individual conformity is to the expectations and requirements of a group or, more broadly, of society. Because it follows the social-normative concept, this is regarded as positive-normal socialization [23]. Existing and dominant in each society and partly with the moral and educational ideal that designs some models is social-cultural perspective [24]. It is a direction of socialization that complies with the requirements, values, and norms of socially permissible and desirable [1].

3.5 Negative socialization

Negative socialization is the polar opposite of positive socialization and does not conform to any moral or educational standard. Negative socialization is more commonly achieved in marginal, peripheral, and peripheral subculture groups. This socialization is frequently equated with the development of antisocial conduct [1].

3.6 Anticipatory socialization

According to Robert King Merton Anticipatory, socialization prepares a person for future duties and positions [25]. The individual has time to learn the behaviors they take the new position, rights, and duties associated with it, just as they do before executing a role. Language was integrated into social theory to investigate this type of socialization from the perspective of role statuses [26]. Merton claims that social conformism to the ideals of a reference group, distinct from the group to which one belongs, determines anticipatory socialization. As a result, Merton believes that the debate on socialization between the concepts of passivity and activism is founded on a false problem, and to demonstrate this, the American sociologist has devised an anticipatory socialization paradigm [27]. The group of belonging represents meetings of individuals who fulfill the following three conditions: First, the individuals involved are in constant interaction. Second, they define themselves as group members. Third, those do not participate in the interaction to define it as a member of the group and the reference group, which is the points compared with that reference a sufficiently large proportion of individuals who belong to a social class, to establish the state that characterizes that social category [5].

3.7 Formal and informal socialization

Formal socialization is fully overlapping with education. But the distinction between formal and informal is not just at school. Therefore, formal socialization can be made by all institutions, organizations, bodies, groupings officially recognized prescribing precise objectives, rules, duties, privileges, and obligations [1], whereas the informal socialization is the process of assimilation of attitudes, values, behavior patterns acquired in the personal life [28]. Informal socialization agents are family, friends, colleagues, etc. According to [1], informal socialization can be performed even by professional force outside the classroom. Therefore, they need support activities outside the curriculum or, rather, educational activities carried out under informal curriculum.

3.8 Gender socialization

Gender socialization is the process that encourages or discourages certain behaviors and attitudes of a particular kind, which communicate what is right for the moment gender norms, which teaches a language that culture is communicated and transmitted permanently [16]. Gender socialization defines socialization treating culture as an essential part dichotomy of female-male by which an individual learns behaviors-specific values considered masculine or feminine specific [25]. Gender socialization occurs both at the direct or explicit and indirect or default. Through complex processes of socialization individuals acquire or learn and internalize their gender identity [16]. Trajectories of socialization, traditional and new ones, contribute to the preservation and transmission of gender stereotypes [29].

Most gender theories show that the best age for gender identity formation is between the ages of 2 and 6, when children’s assimilative capability is at its peak. Children are socialized into gender roles through a range of activities, opportunities, encouragement, discouragement, events, ideas, and various sorts of guidance. As children grow and develop, gender preconceptions that they encounter at home are reinforced by other aspects of their environment, and consequently persist throughout childhood and adolescence [30]. There are inborn factors that lead boys and girls to choose a toy, factors related to biological differences between the sexes.

3.9 Professional socialization

Professional socialization, which refers to the knowledge and understanding of the nature of interpersonal relationships, as well as the creation and strengthening of personal relationships with team members, colleagues, bosses, and subordinates, can be considered a component of the professional integration process [31]. Professional socialization is not only the process of acquiring skills, behavior, and knowledge specific to that profession but also desiring to belong to the reference group, effort involving the acquisition of norms and values, and behavioral patterns referential of group members. Thus, desire for belongingness to the reference group is considered as the first step toward professional socialization [1].

3.10 Spontaneous socialization

This is done by the spontaneous transmission of norms and values without using qualified personnel. It may accompany the planned socialization [6]. For example, the school has performed both forms of socializing process. The student acquires social experience both within lessons for purposes of the teacher and through experience that might be lived or observed social interaction of teachers with students, teachers, and among themslves [1, 32].

3.11 Dissocializing

In connection with socialization, there are two types of socialization processes: re-socialization and dissocialization. Dissocialization entails leaving a particular status and role and, as a result, abandoning the rules and behaviors associated with that status and function. It entails both physical and social seclusions. Separation of environments or people who have met their interaction demands and gives them support statuses to get rid of previously taught habits of behavior and interaction. Individual members of the so-called whole institutions, such as the army, monastery, prison, and so on, who are especially susceptible to this, whereas resocialization is a process of learning new roles, while abandoning previous roles [23]. We also come across circumstances where certain persons are undergoing dramatic resocialization, either positive or negative. The term “socialization” is used in this context to describe the process of transforming people who have engaged in antisocial behavior [33].

The aims of re-socialization is to learn new roles offered by the society as if professionalization, the professional reconversion, or rehabilitation of those who have committed deviant or delinquent roles and norms of life accepted by society [34]. Resocialization occurs in tandem with dissocialization and entails the orientation of learning and social control, as well as the uptake and expression of individual behaviors that are congruent with the new integrator system’s board of values and attitudes. It is important to note that the efficiency of resocialization is determined not only by individual receptivity, but also by the new agent of socialization’s level of social control and the degree to which previously gratifying elements are removed [1, 35]. These two processes of socialization, that is, de-socialization and re-socialization are not only concurrently happens, but interdependent [24].


4. Socialization across the life course

Socialization is not a one-time or even a short-term event rather a lifelong process [36]. We are not stamped by some socialization machine as we move along a conveying or belt and thereby socialized once and for all. Age norms and time-related rules and regulations play a big role in socialization throughout life. As we become older, we come across age-related transition periods that necessitate socialization into a new position, such as entering school, starting a job, or retiring [37]. Many of life’s social expectations are made clear and enforced on a cultural level. Through interacting with others and watching others’ interaction, the expectation to fulfill roles becomes clear [38]. In the process of socialization, adulthood brings a new set of challenges and expectations, as well as new roles to fill. As the aging process moves forward, social roles continue to be evolved and changed. In the eyes of society, youthful pleasures are becoming less acceptable. Adulthood is defined by responsibility and commitment, and men and women are expected to settle down. Many people marry or form a civil union during this time, start families, and focus on a career path. Instead of being students or significant others, they become couples or parents [39].

Adults engage in anticipatory socialization, or the preparation for future life roles, in the same way as young children pretend to be doctors or attorneys, play home, and dress up. A couple who cohabitates before marriage, for example, or soon-to-be parents who read infant care literature and prepare their home for the upcoming arrival are also examples [40]. Financially capable adults begin planning for their retirement, conserving money, and researching future health care choices as part of anticipatory socializing. Regardless of the social system that supports it, adjusting to a new life position can be tough. In another way, socialization continues throughout maturity. In contrast to former eras, when one might expect to get married only once, live in a single region, and have a single career, current society demonstrates a rising fluidity of roles [25].


5. Agents of socialization

Agents of socialization are sometimes called operators. An agent of socialization is any person or institution that shapes a person’s norms, values, or behaviors [25]. Agents and operators of socialization are the sources from which we learn or are influenced by socialization [41]. This socializing aid is beneficial. What happens throughout the socializing process? How do we learn to use the material culture of our society’s objects? How do we come to believe in the nonmaterial culture’s beliefs, values, and norms? This learning occurs through interactions with a variety of socialization agents, such as peer groups and families, as well as official and informal social institutions. The followings are the main agents of socialization [42]. These are family; the main agent of socialization; the peers which can put very important influences on students; the school that breaks bonding with parents which influence depending on the values the school and teachers hold, the mass media; the importance of its influences depends on what is read, watched, or listened to, and the frequency with which it is consumed neighborhoods, religion, daycare, sports and the workplace [42]. Some other authors categorize the above listed socializing agents as social group agents and institutional agents [13, 14].

5.1 Agents of social groups

The early experiences of socialization are frequently provided through social groups [11]. Expectations are communicated and reinforced by parents and subsequent peer groups. In these situations, people learn to use physical artifacts of material culture while also learning about society’s beliefs and values [42].

5.1.1 Family

The most important and first agent of socialization is mothers and fathers, siblings, and grandparents, plus members of an extended family, all teach a child what he or she needs to know. Socialization can be both deliberate or structured and unconscious or unintended [41]. They demonstrate how to use objects, interact with others, and understand how the world works, for example. As you may know from your own experience as a child or from your role as a parent, socialization entails teaching and learning about a seemingly endless number of items and concepts [42].

It is also important to keep in mind that families do not socialize children in a vacuum [16]. A family’s ability to raise its children is influenced by a variety of social circumstances. We can use sociological imagination, for example, to see how individual behaviors are influenced by the historical period in which they occur [14]. If a parent smacked his son with a stick or a belt if he misbehaved 60 years ago, it would not have been deemed harsh, but today, the same conduct could be deemed child abuse [1, 43]. Classical sociologists like Karl Marx recognize that race, social class, religion, and other societal factors play an important role in socialization [44]. Likewise, children are socialized to abide by gender norms, perceptions of race, and class-related behaviors. For example, according to those who study gender using the individualist framework gender as a characteristic of the person, parents are believed to be the most significant source of gender socialization [45]. Hence, parents and families are the first agent of socialization [1].

5.1.2 Peer group

The first step in human group affiliation is the categorization of people into groups. A peer group is made up of people who are similar in age and social status and who share interests. Sociologists and other social psychology researchers have studied socialization and social development over the past 100 years. Around the age of three, children and adolescents begin to create peer groups, usually with other children who are neighbors, classmates, or siblings. Children learn how to connect with other children of similar ages as well as more complicated group behaviors such as leadership, teamwork, and cooperation in these groupings [46].

Peer group socialization begins in the earliest years, such as when kids on a playground teach younger children the norms about taking turns. This process continues as children develop into teenagers. Adolescents value peer groups in a new way as they begin to form their own identities independent from their parents and assert their independence [38]. Because children engage in different types of activities with their peers than with their families, peer groups provide possibilities for socialization. Adolescents’ first significant socializing experience outside of their family occurs in peer groups. Surprisingly, research have revealed that while friendships are a high priority for adolescents, this is counterbalanced by parental influence [47]. As teenagers separate from their families through adolescence, peer networks become increasingly important. Within these groups, children learn how to behave in groups without adult supervision and have the opportunity to explore their sexuality. However, as teenagers grow into adults, peer pressure is often overshadowed by the obligations of employment, school, or family. Practitioners have been able to lead people through the socialization process as a result of their work. Social learning theory has been proven to be particularly useful in understanding socialization and the best strategies to lead a person through the process [5].

5.2 Institutional agents

The social institutions of our culture also inform our socialization [6]. Formal institutions such as schools, workplaces, and the government teach people how to behave in and navigate these systems [1]. Other institutions such as the media, religion contribute to socialization by flooding us with messages about norms and expectations [14, 48].

5.2.1 School

On average, children spend about 6 to 7 hours a day in school which makes it hard to deny the importance school has on their socialization [6]. Students are not only in school to learn arithmetic, reading, science, and other topics; it is also the system’s evident function [8]. Schools also serve a latent function in society by socializing children into behaviors like teamwork, following a schedule, and using textbooks. School and classroom rituals led by teachers serving as role models and leaders regularly reinforce what society expects from children [44]. The hidden curriculum, or the informal teaching done by schools, is how sociologists characterize this component of schools. Children learn that there are winners and losers in society when they engage in a relay race or a math competition. Children experience cooperation with other individuals in cooperative conditions when they are obliged to work together on a project [14]. During the day, children learn how to deal with bureaucracy, rules, and expectations, as well as how to wait their turn and remain still for long periods of time [17]. The hidden curriculum includes the latent functions of competition, teamwork, classroom discipline, time awareness, and coping with bureaucracy. Schools also help children socialize by explicitly teaching them about citizenship and nationalism. There are also other institutional socializing agents such as religion, government, mass media [6].


6. Content and features of socialization

Skills, knowledge, behaviors, and cultural values are passed down to future generations both formally and informally [49]. Formal or direct instruction and education, such as in schools, colleges, and religious institutions, is used to formalize transmission. Informal socialization, on the other hand, is carried out through folkways, customs, and cultural values, among other things [17]. The more agreeable the socializing agencies are, the more safely and quickly socialization occurs. According to studies, when there is a disagreement between the ideas, models, and abilities passed down by a child’s peer group or between home and school, the individual’s socialization is slowed and uncertain [6, 41]. Socialization inculcates basic discipline and self-controlling mechanisms. An individual learns to control his impulses and projects a disciplined behavior to gain social approval or for the sake of a future goal. Socialization helps to control human behavior [50]. This control through the process of socialization is exercised to maintain social order. Societies depend heavily upon effective socialization to internalize social norms and values as individual’s guides and motives to action [50]. It does not cease or stop when a child becomes an adult, internalization of culture is continued over generations. Through this internalization, society perpetuates itself. Its members transmit cultural values to the next generation, and thus, society continues to exist [6]. Socialization has been depicted as a social learning process that is very important to the emergence of social selves as well as to the survival and development of individual societal relations and their cultural context [51]. More specifically, the contents of socialization include a shared system of meanings and symbols. These shared systems include a set of values, beliefs and practices, and shared forms of communication [52].

6.1 Values and beliefs

Values are a cultural standard for discerning desirable states in a society like what is true, good, just, or beautiful [43]. Values are firmly ingrained in a culture’s ideas and are essential for transmitting and teaching them. People’s beliefs are their core tenets, attitudes, and convictions. Individuals in a society hold different opinions, but they all have common ideals. To show the distinction between value and beliefs, North Americans believe that anyone who works hard enough will be successful and affluent. The value that riches is good and desirable lies under this idea. Values assist in the shaping of a culture by indicating what is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, and what should be pursued or avoided [39]. Values often suggest how people should behave, but they do not accurately reflect how people do behave [43]. Classical sociologist like Harriet Martineau made a basic distinction between what people say they believe and what they do, which are often at odds [53]. Values depict an ideal culture; they are the ideals that society wishes to embrace and live up to. However, ideal culture differs from real culture, which is based on what happens and exists in society. There would be no traffic accidents, murders, poverty, or racial strife in an ideal culture [44]. However, in real life, police officers, legislators, educators, and social workers work tirelessly to avoid or correct such mishaps, crimes, and injustices [54].

The cultural standards used for the transmission of culture form one to the next generations and separate the potential consequence. For example, the number of unplanned pregnancies among teens reveals that not only is the ideal hard to live up to, but that the value alone is not enough to spare teenagers from the potential consequences of having sex. There are also several methods in which societies attempt to put values into practice. These could be in the form of prizes, sanctions, or penalties. People are frequently rewarded for adhering to society’s conventions and upholding its principles. A youngster who assists an old woman in boarding a bus, for example, may be greeted with a grin and a thank you. A quarterly incentive may be given to a business management who improves profit margins [55].

People sanction particular behaviors by granting their support, approval, or permission, or by formally disapproving and refusing to support them [44]. Sanctions are a type of social control that encourages people to follow social norms. People may follow rules in the hopes of receiving beneficial consequences. Good grades, for example, may result in praise from parents and teachers [22]. People are punished when they act against a society’s values. Other passengers may scowl or even reprimand a boy who pushes an older woman aside to board the bus first [44]. Breaking norms and rejecting values can lead to cultural sanctions such as earning a negative label or to legal sanctions. Values are not static, and vary across time, culture, and between groups as people evaluate, debate, and change collective societal beliefs. For example, cultures differ in their values about what kinds of physical closeness are appropriate in public [56].

6.2 Norms

Norms are the other content of socialization that might be transferred from one to the next generation. Often times, norms are described as how people are expected to behave in certain situations. Sociologists refer to norms as the visible and invisible rules of conduct that shape societies. A norm is a generally accepted manner of doing things, as opposed to values and beliefs, which specify desirable conditions and convictions about how things are. Norms explain how to act in accordance with what society has determined to be good, right, and significant, and most people of society adhere to them since breaking those results in some form of punishment. Norms are defined as the rules that govern behavior in general [28].

Norms can be categorized as formal and informal [18]. Formal norms are written regulations that have been established. They are behaviors that have been worked out and agreed upon to suit and serve the majority of people. Employee manuals, college entrance exam requirements, and no running in swimming pools are all formal rules [17]. Of the numerous forms of norms, formal norms are the most detailed and precisely expressed, as well as the most rigidly enforced. Even formal norms, however, are enforced to varied degrees, as cultural values reflect [17, 57]. There are many formal standards, but there is also a vast list of informal norms, or casual behaviors, that are commonly accepted. Observation, imitation, and general socialization are all ways that people learn informal norms. Some informal norms are taught directly, while others are learned by observation, such as the repercussions of others breaking a rule. Children learn quickly that picking your nose is subject to ridicule when they see someone shamed for it by other children. Although informal norms define personal interactions, they extend into other systems as well. Informal norms dictate appropriate behaviors without the need for written rules [17].

6.2.1 Mores, folkways, and taboos

Mores, folkways, and taboos are all subcategories of norms. Mores are the social standards that express a group’s moral values and principles. They are founded on social expectations. Violations can result in significant repercussions. The most powerful mores are protected by law or other formal rules. Murder, for example, is deemed immoral and punished by law. More often than not, social mores are judged and guarded by public opinion or an unwritten rule. People who break social norms are considered dishonorable [17]. They can even be avoided by some groups. For example, the mores of the school system require that a student’s writing be in the student’s own words or else the student should use special stylistic forms such as quotation marks and a system of citation for crediting the words to other writers. If they did not, it is considered plagiarism or cheating. Violations of this rule have serious ramifications, including expulsion and exclusion. Folkways, unlike mores, are norms that have no moral grounds or grounds. They are based on a person’s social preferences. Folkways guide proper behavior in everyday cultural practices and expressions. When welcoming another individual, folkways advise whether to shake hands or kiss the cheek. Folkways are not serious enough to be termed mores, but they are serious enough to end a relationship before it really gets started. Folkways may be minor etiquette, but they are far from insignificant. Taboos are activities that are strictly prohibited by sincerely held sacred beliefs [58].

They are the most powerful and deeply rooted conventions. Their misdeeds and misconducts elicit revulsion or disgust, as well as harsh retribution. The word taboo originally meant sanctified, inviolable, forbidden, unclean, or cursed. The restriction had a clear supernatural context; the deed had offended the ancestors and elicited their wrath [1]. In everyday life, many mores, folkways, and taboos are taken for granted. To get through daily routines smoothly, people must behave without thinking; we cannot stop and examine every movement. Individual efforts can be continuously coordinated and concerted thanks to the many degrees of norm. These several levels of norm assist people in navigating their daily lives within a specific culture, and their study is essential for comprehending cultural differences [59].

6.2.2 Symbols and language

Humans are constantly trying to make sense of their surroundings. Symbols are tangible marks that stand in for or symbolize something else, such as gestures, signs, objects, signals, and phrases. Symbols can help us understand the underlying experiences, statuses, states, and ideas that they represent. They communicate recognizable meanings that are universally understood [44]. You cannot say anything that is, anything you say that has any meaning at all is universal. The world is filled with symbols. Some symbols are highly functional; for instance, stop signs provide useful instruction. As physical objects, they belong to material culture, but because they function as symbols, they also convey nonmaterial cultural meanings. Some symbols are only valuable in what they represent. Many objects have both material and nonmaterial symbolic value. Therefore, symbols will be socialized content [60].


7. The process of socialization in organization

Parents impart societal standards to their children, but socialization is not a one-way process. Students are active participants in the socialization process. They do not receive from the socializer in a passive manner. They are physically or culturally predisposed to be socialized more or less easily in various aspects of their lives. They process socialization-related information, accepting or rejecting it as appropriate. They are more accepting of some forms of control than others, in part because some forms of misbehavior, such as bodily and psychological injury to others, are fundamentally more problematic than others, such as social convention violations [61]. Some steps are required in the socializing process. Stages of socialization are a term used to describe these steps [62].

The initial stage of socialization is investigation. During this stage of the socialization process, an individual assesses a group to see if it is a good fit for him or her. The group follows suit. The end of this stage occurs when the group extends an invitation to the newcomer and the newcomer accepts. The second phase is known as socialization. The new member adopts the culture of the group, whether it is correct or wrong, and good or bad. They blend in with the group, adopting its norms, attitudes, and beliefs. The maintenance stage is the third stage of the organization’s socialization process. The new member and the group agree what the group expects of the new member, such as how they should act or another contribution, during the maintenance stage. If an individual fails to meet collective expectations, they can be kicked out, or they can renegotiate and rejoin the group. The other option is to re-socialize. Depending on the conclusion of the maintenance stage, the member will either be welcomed back into the group or taught to act appropriately, or they will be evicted and forced to learn to live outside of it. The last stage is the remembering stage. In this section, people who have left the group reflect on their experiences [17, 44].


8. The benefits and advantages of socialization

Socialization provides us the means via which we gradually become able to see ourselves through the eyes of others, learning who we are, and how we fit into the world around us [7]. Furthermore, to function successfully in society, we must learn the fundamentals of both material and nonmaterial culture, including everything from how to dress to what is appropriate attire for a specific occasion; from when we sleep to what we sleep on; and from what is considered appropriate to eat for dinner to how to prepare it using the oven. Without socialization, we are unable to function socially [14, 20]. Social cohesion might be possible through socialization [63].

8.1 Advantages of socialization

There are several benefits of socialization. Socialization reduces the loneliness, which makes individuals feel better, building constructive relationships unless individuals have bad peer groups as found in many schools, improving the growth and development of a person, occupying the mind and keeping it ticking so you can avoid things like dementia, a reduction in stress and anxiety, learning how other cultures or groups like to do things or enables in understanding their perspectives and attributes, and getting emotional, physical, and spiritual support [26]. Individuals and the cultures in which they live both benefit from socialization. It demonstrates how inextricably linked humans and their social worlds are. To begin with, society replicates itself through imparting culture to new members. It will cease to exist if future generations of society do not learn its way of life [17]. For a society to exist, whatever distinguishes culture must be passed along to newcomers. We discover who we are and how we fit into the world around us through socialization and social contact [8]. Furthermore, to function successfully in society, we must learn the fundamentals of both material and nonmaterial cultures, including everything from how to dress to what is appropriate attire for a specific occasion; from when we sleep to what we sleep on; and from what is considered appropriate to eat for dinner to how to prepare it on the stove. Our society’s expectations for dining out are instilled in us through socialization. Different cultures’ manners and customs are learnt through socialization [17].

Because university campuses are an open atmosphere, socialization is also very important in higher learning institutions. During their studies, students in an open atmosphere keep contact with others who are not in schools, such as friends, parents, and employers. When we say university students’ socialization, we are referring to the process by which college students absorb social culture knowledge and grow into independent and mature persons. Two items will be considered in this case. Perspectives are from both the society and the individual. They still need to learn professional information from a social standpoint. On the other hand, people must develop a suitable philosophy for themselves, as well as a proper worldview and value idea. College students are a distinct social group with expectations and hopes from both their parents and society. However, there have been concerns in recent years of rising issues in numerous campuses. For instance, studies reveal that in China, students are suspended from school, skip courses, or even commit suicide, among other things. Anxiety, fragility, and other difficulties could be caused by social isolation and a lack of proper assimilation to the school and college environment. As a result, socializing may be a viable solution to the issues.

8.2 Disadvantage of socialization

Individuals will be socialized for unintended behaviors. There will be deviants. Deviance is a breach of social norms. The act of deviating from societal norms is known as deviance. Similarly, aberrant behavior violates social norms and social codes in the workplace, home, and marriage, among other places. Everything is deviance, and behavior is known as deviant behavior, whether it is breaking a pledge or breaking a state law. It is our nature to stray. Deviancy in one generation/society may be a noun in another. Individuals will mingle and be exposed for aberrant cases throughout the transmission of skills, knowledge, attitude, and beliefs [64].


9. Current trends of socialization in higher learning institutions

From its beginnings, socialization has been a central term in the social sciences [3]. It is significant because it is necessary for the survival of communities and cultures, as well as for individual development. There is a discussion on socialization, with people debating whether we are the outcome of nature or socialization. According to some experts, who we are is a result of the relationships that surround us [17]. Others claim that our genetic makeup determines who we are. Naturalists believe that our personalities, skills, and interests are predetermined before we are born. As a result, we are dependent on nature in this regard [16]. Scholars use the study of twins as one method of illustrating the influences of nature. Some studies looked at identical twins who were raised apart [65].

In certain circumstances, the pairs had the same genetics but were socialized differently. Researchers can learn more about how our temperaments, likes, and abilities are influenced by our genetic makeup versus our social environment by investigating the degree to which identical twins raised apart are alike and different, despite the fact that this type of situation is uncommon [17]. Though genetics and hormones play a significant impact in human behavior, biological explanations of human behavior have serious sociological faults, especially when used to explain the complex aspects of human social life such as homosexuality, male aggression, female spatial skills, and so on [66].

In most cases, biological explanation logic is divided into three sections. These are the identification of a supposedly universal human quality or trait, an argument for why this behavior makes it more likely that the genes that code for it will be successfully passed down to descendants, and the conclusion that this behavior or quality is hard-wired or difficult to change [17, 67]. However, claiming that males are naturally aggressive because of their hormonal structure ignores vast differences in the meaning and practice of aggression across cultures, as well as vast differences in what counts as aggressive in different situations, not to mention the fact that many men are not aggressive by any definition, and that men and women both have male hormones like testosterone [16]. In this case, the sociologist is more concerned with the fact that nonaggressive males are frequently referred to as sissies. This suggests that a normative structure within a male culture is more likely to explain male violence than a genetic or hormonal structure [68]. The greater interest of sociology is the impact of society on human behavior, the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate. Genes are never expressed in a vacuum, regardless of the role genes or biology play in our lives. The environment has always had a significant impact [69].

Sociologists all agree that socialization is essential for healthy individual and societal development. The question is how academics from the three major theoretical paradigms approach socialization. Theoretical models are used for studying socialization through Durkheim’s concept of socialization as a starting point. The dominant sociological approaches to the study of socialization in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s were Durkheim’s concept of socialization, Parsons’ development of an influential socialization model, and the theory of reproduction and its development in the late 1950s and early 1960s [60]. These socialization models are classified as the functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, the symbolic interactionist perspective—also known as the interactionist perspective—or simply the micro-view [47, 60]. All of these sociological perspectives provide various explanations for the social world and human behavior in relation to the socialization process [47].

Individual and collective development are influenced by socialization, as is the reproduction of status hierarchies and structural inequalities [66]. Socialization does not mean renouncing all its dimensions and influences. Although socialization is a relatively new concept, it refers to a reality that predates human societies. The issues of socialization, or the integration of new members into society, have been studied in philosophy, anthropology, and history, and are now being studied in interdisciplinary social sciences such as sociology [47]. In sociology, socialization has been approached in two ways. These are from the standpoints of society and the respective socializing agents, as well as individuals in the process of socialization and their respective social worlds [47]. The central question in the first case is how a given society transmits or instills values, beliefs, norms, and lifestyles. The second focuses primarily on individuals’ activities during the processes of appropriation, learning, and internalization, as well as socialization, through which they become self-conscious and develop the abilities to integrate, communicate, and participate in the society and culture in which they live. The first is more common in traditional sociology, while the second is a goal of the new sociology of childhood socialization [60].

In sociological theory, there are five generations of thinkers in the history of study of socialization [47]. These are the pioneers of the eighteenth century, the founders of the early to mid-nineteenth century, the institutionalization of the early twentieth century, the compilers of the mid-twentieth century, and the constructivists who now overlap with other trends such as the return to grand theory or postmodernism. So, the issue of socialization neither began nor ended with Parsons [47]. Rather, Talcott Parsons falls under the fourth generation of this scheme, the so-called compilers, and a group of scholars and teachers who worked hard to make sociology a rigorous scientific discipline, a science of society. The fourth generation attempted to find a synthesis and convergence of the various currents of thought that had preceded them, whether conservative or critical. Within this generation, two groups predominate: the conservative-minded sociologists, led by Parsons, and the authors involved in the development of critical theory of society, known as the Frankfurt School of sociology [47].

All scholars agree that socialization is required for the learning of culture and society values. It is also agreed that socialization occurs as a result of internalization [70]. Individuals learn and internalize cultural norms, codes, and values through the multifaceted process of socialization. This procedure allows people to join and remain members of one or more social groups. Individuals acquire social and cultural competencies through interaction with other people and social institutions, as well as responses to their macro- and micro-sociocultural contexts [16]. This process occurs in social settings that both allow for and limit interaction and opportunity. As a result, social expectations for people coming of age are not uniform [60]. Similarly, the mechanisms and outcomes of socialization differ depending on the organization, geographical space, sociocultural context, and sociohistorical time. Furthermore, socialization processes within a society may differ depending on the power and status of their subgroup identities. Many members of society must deal with the competing influences of the dominant culture and marginalized subcultures [63]. Scholars have spent the majority of their time focusing on the socialization processes of childhood and adolescence. Adaptation to and internalization of social norms, values, and behaviors, on the other hand, continue throughout adulthood [16]. Individuals go through identity, family, educational, and career changes and transitions with their generational cohort. As a result, their social roles may shift and change throughout their lives [71].

Socialization facilitates processes of inclusion and participation in society for a wide range of individuals and groups. At the same time, socialization helps to maintain social order by reproducing existing stratifications based on race, gender, and social class. Socialization processes continue to shape generational cohorts and intergenerational dynamics, as well as various social institutions [72]. Socialization is associated with the stability and maintenance of society because it prepares individuals for membership in society [73]. The socialization process in sociology has been approached from various viewpoints. These were the functionalist, interpretive reproduction, conflict perspective, symbolic interactionist, and social construction of reality. Currently, the integrative approaches or structuration viewpoint is a crucial to study socialization in an organization including the higher learning institutions [74]. This means that socialization of students as new comers will not be determined by the preexisting structure, norms, value, and rules of the organizational environment, but rather the new comer can influence, change, and create new rules, values, and rules in a given organization. Therefore, three important socialization processes are strong in the undergraduate socialization process of students in the higher learning institutions. These are individuals, groups, and organization source of socializing influence, the social process through which these sources of socializing influences are encountered and responded to by students, and resultants of socialization outcomes in various college settings [18].

This method to comprehending undergraduate socialization raises two basic problems concerning individual socialization in an organizational setting. One is about social interaction; what are the interpersonal processes that people go through to get socialized? The other is about organizational structure: What are the different qualities of a higher education institution as a socializing organization that has an impact on students? The relevance of taking into account both individual and organizational variables when investigating socialization can be expressed in the following way. Individuals may become differently socialized as a result of differences in their past experiences, motives, and talents, as well as disparities in the structure of the social situations in which they interact [18].

Overall, undergraduate socialization can be thought of as a complex process in which students enter college as new men with specific values, aspirations, and other personal goals, and are exposed to a variety of socializing influences while in college, such as normative pressures exerted through social relationships with college faculty and peers, and parental pressures, and participation in noncollege reference groups; evaluates the importance of various normative pressures experienced in achieving personal goals; and modifies or preserves values, aspirations, and personal goals maintained at college entrance [75]. Student background characteristics/precollege features, noncollege pressures, college experiences and behaviors, interactions with socialization agents, and student-parent relationships are some of the variables that may influence undergraduate students’ socialization in higher learning institutions. The relationship between the variables that affect students’ socialization and the conceptual framework of undergraduate students’ socialization at higher learning institutions is depicted in the graphs below [74].


10. Conclusions

Individual traits and the range of students’ experiences within higher education institutions influence the complexity of socialization processes, which can be complementary. In addition, as shown at Figure 1, there are conceptual ways to studying undergraduate socialization in higher education institutions as organizations. As a result, it is reasonable to expect that research in this area will incorporate both wide conceptual foundation and rigorous empirical approaches to elaborate, extend, and deepen our understanding of socialization in higher education. Far too often, studies only pay lip service to conceptual models, addressing a small number of variables and failing to make conclusions about the models when discussing results. Paying attention to stakeholders in research, whether academic or not, can reveal vital information regarding conceptual frameworks as well as the sorts and targets of suggestions that may be made. The frameworks were crude detours from a strictly structural functional approach to studying student socialization in higher education. Each looked at additional paradigmatic ways of framing socialization beyond structural-functionalism that put more emphasis on human motivation and actions in a restricted way. As a result, we came upon Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory.

Figure 1.

Comprehensive framework for student socialization in higher education (adopted from [18, 74, 76]).

According to structuration theory, social behaviors organized over space and time are more important than individual actor experiences or the presence of any type of societal whole. Human social interactions are recursive, just like some self-reproducing objects in nature. That is, they are not formed by social actors, but are constantly produced by them through the techniques by which they express themselves as actors. Agents duplicate the conditions that allow these activities to take place in and via their actions. Structuration theory thus recognizes the significance of human agency in social processes, as well as its potential for mitigating the effects of social structures (such as normative environments) on college students. Students have the ability to change the very higher education situations in which they participate, according to structuration theory.


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Written By

Mulusew Birhanu Ayalew

Submitted: 06 June 2021 Reviewed: 21 June 2021 Published: 24 May 2022