MINISTERY OF EDUCATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
Belarus State Economic University
“PERSONALITY AND HIS SOCIALIZATION”
Understanding of personality and his structure
We often use words man, human being, person, individual, individuality,
personality as identical in meaning. Actually, they denote different
phenomena. Man is a most common, generic concept. Individual, person or
human being identifies a definite person as a representative of mankind.
Individuality is a set of qualities or characteristics distinguishing
one person from another at the biological, psychological, social and
other levels. Personality is introduced to focus on the human’s social
nature. Social nature is of primary importance because when born, an
infant is not personality. It is only an individual. To become
personality, any individual must go through a development period wherein
the obligatory terms are biological prerequisites and social milieu
which a baby interact with. That’s why personality is understood as a
social type of person which satisfies the demands of the society, its
values and norms.
Structural analysis of personality is considered one of the most complex
problems in sociology. Traditionally theorists differentiate between
biological, psychological and social structures of personality studied
by biology, psychology and sociology. A biological structure is taken
into account by sociology when interactions between individuals are
broken due to somebody’s illness or disorder because the disabled can’t
perform all those social functions distinctive of healthy individuals. A
psychological structure includes various emotions, feelings, memory,
abilities etc. Although these qualities are of subjective character,
they can be of interest for sociology as well because they can determine
to some extent social behaviour of a person. As social quality is
dominant in personality, a social structure of personality includes a
set of his subjective and objective social qualities which are created
and function in the process of his activity. As it comes from the
definition, a distinction of the social structure of personality is his
activity as itself and as interaction with other people.
Personality can also be defined as a certain type. The need to designate
people according to character and personality is universal. Each
historical era has formulated its own human types motivated by its
perceptions and values, for instance, the hippie, the English country
gentleman, the Sicilian Mafioso, the Arab sheik – these are but a few
examples of the many cultural types. The urge to classify people by
their character and temperaments has yielded well-known psychological
types of choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic people.
A Swiss psychiatrist Karl Jung (1875-1961) put forth the psychological
theory (1923) that in normal behaviour the mind operates in two modes.
He called these two modes as introversion and extroversion. People who
prefer introversion tend to focus on their inner world of ideas and
experiences. People who prefer extroversion tend to focus on the outer
world and external events.
In sociology the focus is on social types. According to L. Wirth,
“social type consists of a set of attitudes on the part of the person
toward himself and the group and a corresponding set of attitudes of the
group toward him, which together determine the role of the person in his
social milieu. ”It suggests that a person can be recognized as a typical
example of a familiar group or social category and remind of other
individuals with similar values, behaviour, style and habits.
There are various classifications of personality types developed by M.
Weber, K. Marx, E. Fromm, R. Darherndorf etc. For instance, asserting
that personality is a product of cultural development and social
environment R. Dahrendorf identified four types of personality on the
basis of the term homo sociologicus:
· homo faber – a “working man”in traditional society: warrior, peasant,
politician, or personality allotted with an important public function;
· homo consumer – a modern consumer, or personality moulded by mass
· homo universalis – a person with the aptitude to perform various
· homo soveticus – a person depending on the state.
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) worked out the conception of one-dimensional
man (1964). Under the impact of propaganda a person perceives
informational stereotypes and moulds simplified schemes of seeing
phenomena as black-and-white. Modern society makes people as if they
were one-dimensional humans perceiving the reality and existing
processes in the context of primitive alternatives. In modern Russia
such types are the new Russians, ordinary people, communists, oligarchs
Another classification includes types of personality defined due to
value orientations people follow:
· traditionalists are followed by values of duty, discipline, law; their
level of self-realization, creativity is low;
· idealists are critical towards traditional norms and firmly determined
· realists combine their strive for self-realization with a developed
sense of duty;
· hedonistic materialists are oriented to satisfy their needs as
· frustrated personality is characterized by low self-assessment and
As social structure of personality includes the person’s relations with
the outer world and inner, ideal relations, sociologists also identify a
basis and ideal type. The basis type most fully meets the demands of the
society that’s why a basis personality means a set of typical qualities
which are dominant in a given society. These qualities characterize the
people who grew up in same culture, developed under same socialization
processes, for instance, a workerholic in the Japanese society after
World War II. The ideal type is a sort of standard or model declared by
the society. It gives sociologists the right to assert that social types
are produced by the society.
As we live in an era of rapid and dramatic changes when globalization is
melting cultures down into a global one, in an era of social
revolutions, mobs and wars we may spot in future new types of
Theories of personality
A multi-dimensioned nature of person and diversity of his social
relations determine a diversity of theoretic approaches to personality.
One of them is the psychological analysis of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).
He considered a person as a hedonist, as striving for getting
satisfaction, with the society as a system of constraints and taboos.
According to S. Freud, personality has three structures: the Id, the
Ego, and the Superego. The Id consists of instincts, basically sexual.
It is totally unconscious and has no contact with reality. As children
experience the demands and constraints of reality, a new structure of
personality emerges – the Ego. It is called the executive branch of
personality because it uses reasoning to make decisions. The Id and the
Ego have no morality. They do not take into account whether something is
right or wrong. The highest structure is the Superego which is the moral
branch of personality as it takes into account whether something is
right or wrong that’s why it is seen as norms of the society. The
Superego is what is often referred to as “conscience. ”The Id and the
Superego are most aggressive branches. Attacking human psyche (the Ego)
from both sides they make life rough for the Ego and give birth to a
neurotic type of human behaviour. For instance, your Ego might say, “I
will have sex only occasionally and be sure to take the proper
precautions because I don’t want the intrusion of a child in the
development of my career. ”However, your Id is saying, “I want to be
satisfied; sex is pleasurable. ”Your Superego is at work, too: “I feel
guilty about having sex before I’m married. ”Personality becomes
neurotic as it is constantly defending from public pressure and
conflicting with the social milieu. As soon as the society develops, the
highest structure (the Superego) inevitably increases and becomes more
massive and heavier, that’s why S. Freud considered the history of
mankind as history of increasing psychosis.
Another approach is the role theory which has been fruitful to
understanding humans and society.
In general, role theory includes the following propositions:
· people spend much of their lives participating as members of groups
· within these groups people occupy distinct positions;
· each of these positions entails a role, which is a set of functions
performed by the person for the group;
· groups often formalize role expectations as norms or even codified
rules, which include what rewards will result when roles are
successfully performed and what punishments will result when roles are
not successfully performed;
· individuals usually carry out their roles and perform in accordance
with dominating norms; in other words, role theory assumes that people
are primarily conformists who try to live up to the norms that accompany
· group members check each individual’s performance to determine whether
it conforms with the norms; the anticipation that others will apply
sanctions ensures role performance.
So, role theory posits that human behaviour is guided by expectations
held by the individual and other people. The expectations correspond to
different roles individuals perform or enact in their daily lives, such
as secretary, father or friend. For instance, most people hold
pre-conceived notions of the role expectations of a secretary which
might include answering phones, making and managing appointments, filing
paperwork, typing memos etc. These role expectations can not be expected
of a football player.
Individuals generally have and manage many roles. Roles consist of a set
of rules or norms that function as plans to guide behaviour. Roles
specify what goals should be pursued, what tasks must be accomplished,
and what performances are required in a given situation. Role theory
holds that a substantial proportion of observable, day-to-day social
behaviour is simply persons’ carrying out their roles, much as actors
carry out their roles on the stage. Role theory is, in fact, predictive.
It implies that if we have information about the role expectations for a
specified position (for instance, sister, fireman, doctor), a
significant portion of the behaviour of the persons occupying that
position can be predicted.
Moreover, role theory also argues that in order to change behaviour it
is necessary to change roles; roles correspond to behaviours and vice
versa. In addition to heavily influencing behaviour, roles influence
beliefs and attitudes; individuals will change their beliefs and
attitudes to correspond with their roles. For instance, someone
over-looked for a promotion to a managerial position in a company may
change their beliefs about the benefits of management by convincing him
that they didn’t want the additional responsibility that would have
accompanied the position.
Many role theorists see role theory as one of the most compelling
theories bridging individual behaviour and social structure. Roles,
which are in part dictated by social structure and in part by social
interactions, guide the behaviour of the individual. The individual, in
turn, influences the norms, expectations and behaviours associated with
roles. If roles are considered as dictated by social structure, they are
the subject for structural functionalism, if by social interactions –
for interactionsist perspective.
The functionalist approach sees a role as a set of expectations that the
society places on the individual. By unspoken consensus, certain
behaviours are deemed appropriate and others – inappropriate. For
example, it is appropriate for a doctor to dress conservatively, ask a
series of personal questions about one’s health, touch one in ways that
would normally be forbidden, write prescriptions, and show more concern
for the personal well-being of his clients. Shopkeepers or real estate
agents may also show concern for the well-being of their clients, but if
they start touching their clients, especially where doctors are allowed
to touch, they’ll get in trouble; they will have stepped outside of the
norms associated with their roles.
In the functionalist conception, role is one of the important ways in
which individual activities are socially regulated: roles create regular
patterns of behaviour and thus a measure of predictability, which not
only allows individuals to function effectively because they know what
to expect of others, but also makes it possible for the sociologist to
make generalizations about the society. Totally, a group of interlocking
roles creates a social institution. For instance, the institution of law
can be seen as the combination of many roles, including police officer,
judge, criminal and victim.
In the functionalist perspective, roles are relatively inflexible and
more or less universally agreed upon. Although it is recognized that
different roles interact (teacher and student), and that roles are
usually defined in relation to other roles (doctor and patient or mother
and child), the functionalist approach has great difficulty in
accounting for variability and flexibility of roles and finds it
difficult to account for the vast differences in the way that
individuals conceive different roles. Taken to extremes, structural
functionalism results in role becoming a set of static, semi-global
expectations laid down by a unified, amorphous society. The distinction
between role and norm (or culture) thus becomes sterile.
The functionalist approach has been criticized for its static
understanding of roles. Even so, it remains a fundamental concept which
is still taught in most introductory courses and is still regarded as
In the interactionist perspective, the definition of role is more fluid
and subtle than in the functionalist perspective. In this conception, a
role is not fixed or prescribed but it is something that is constantly
negotiated between individuals.
To explain the idea of roles, a famous American researcher G. Mead used
a development model for children. According to him, children adopt roles
in the development of self. In doing so, they pass through three stages:
· preparatory stage – meaningless imitation by the infant; the infant
assumes roles but doesn’t understand what they are;
· play stage – actual playing of roles occurs; but the child has no
unified conception of self;
· game stage – completion stage of self; the child finds himself and
must respond to simultaneous roles; the individual can act with a
certain amount of consistency in a variety of situations because he acts
in accordance with a generalized set of expectations and definitions he
No doubt, adults are beyond the game stage, but they continue to adopt
roles and adapt them through interpersonal interactions. This can be
most easily seen in encounters where there is considerable ambiguity.
For instance, let’s assume John has a friend Nick who is a lawyer. If
John approaches Nick as a friend but then asks for legal advice, it
forces Nick either to switch roles completely or to merge the roles
temporarily. Until Nick decides on his course of action, role ambiguity
There are also additional approaches to consider roles:
· structural approach – little attention is given to norms; attention is
focused on social structures conceived as stable organizations of sets
of persons (called social positions or statuses) who share the same,
patterned behaviours (roles);
· organization – the approach focuses on social systems that are
preplanned, task-oriented, and hierarchical; roles in such organizations
are assumed to be associated with identified social positions and to be
generated by normative expectations;
· cognitive role theory focuses on relationships between role
expectations and behaviour.
Anyway, role theory has its limitations. It has a hard time explaining
social deviance when it does not correspond to a pre-specified role. For
instance, the behaviour of someone who adopts the role of a bank robber
can be predicted – he will rob banks. But if a bank manager simply
begins handing out cash to random people, role theory would be unable to
Another limitation of role theory is that it cannot explain how role
expectations came to be what they are. Role theory has no explanation
for why it is expected of male soldiers to cut their hair short, but it
could predict with a high degree of accuracy that if someone is a male
soldier they will have short hair. Additionally, role theory does not
explain when and how role expectations change.
Despite these limitations, role theory describes adaptation of humans
through their socialization into the basic values and norms of a given
Socialization of personality
The sociological view of socialization cannot be attributed to any
single researcher but rather has been developed as a result of the work
of many. Some of the more important researchers who have contributed to
the filed are E. Durkheim, Ch. Cooley, G. Mead, J. Piaget and many
Socialization is a lifelong process by which, through contact with
others, one becomes a self-aware, knowledgeable human being, skilled in
the ways of a given culture and environment. Socialization suggests
interiorizing of social roles and cultural norms. The focus is on
interiorizing, not learning because one can’t learn a social role after
reading a book, although one can acquire knowledge how to do it. Each
role includes various norms, rules and patterns of behaviour; it is
locked with other roles by social contacts such as relations, rights,
obligations. A human can’t simply learn all this. He should interiorize.
So, interiorizing has a wider meaning than learning and includes
learning as its part.
Socialization is a lifelong process because an individual, in his life,
has to learn not one but a number of social roles while growing older,
getting married or being promoted on the career ladder. People
constantly change their habits, tastes, rules, behaviours up till the
Socialization can be distinguished as deliberate and unconscious.
Deliberate socialization refers to the socialization process when there
is a deliberate and purposeful intent to convey values, attitudes,
knowledge, skills etc., for instance, when parents are telling a child
to always say “please. ”
Unconscious socialization occurs as a result of spontaneous interaction
with no purposeful or deliberate attempt on the part of anyone involved
to train, educate or the like. An example of such socialization is when
the child learns to use vulgarity in a frustrating traffic situation by
The aims of socialization are as follows:
· to instill disciplines, for instance, don’t walk in front of a moving
· to develop aspirations and ambitions, for instance, I want to be a
banker, rock star, great sociologist;
· to develop skills, for instance, reading, driving etc.
· to enable the acquisition of social roles, for instance, male,
student, son, worker etc.
Development of an individual should be considered in connection with the
family, social group and culture he belongs to. His socialization begins
from the very first hours of his life and traditionally includes five
· childhood – in medieval European paintings children were portrayed as
little adults. In modern societies the separate character of childhood
is diminishing once more, for instance, some observers point out that
even small children may watch the same TV programs as adults;
· the teenager – the concept of a teenager did not exist until recently.
In modern societies, teenagers live between childhood and adulthood,
growing up in a society subject to continuous change;
· young adulthood – young adulthood seems to be a specific stage in
personal and sexual development in modern societies. Affluent youths
take the time to travel and explore sexual, political and religious
· mature adulthood – in modern societies, midlife crisis is very real
for many middle-aged people;
· old age – in traditional societies, the elder people usually had a
major say over matters of importance to the community. In industrial
societies, they tend to lack authority within the family and the wider
By character socialization can be primary and secondary with their
agencies (institutions) or agents. Agencies of socialization are
structured groups or contexts within which significant processes of
Socialization is further differentiated as primary and secondary.
Primary socialization occurs in infancy and childhood and is the most
intense period of cultural learning. Family is the main agent, or agency
of socialization during this phase.
Secondary socialization takes place later in childhood and into
maturity. Main agents (agencies) of socialization include schools, peer
groups, organizations, the media and the workplace.
All agents involved in socialization of individuals are differentiated
as informal and formal ones. The family and peers are typical informal
agents of socialization and the school and mass media represent formal
agents. For instance, peers become especially influential in schools.
They provide opportunities to practice social roles, they are an
important source of information, and they greatly influence values and
attitudes in mate selection, sex relations, and forms of expression in
music, sports and the like. It should be noted that some entities can
serve as the agents of both primary and secondary socialization, for
instance, peers of childhood and teenager period (primary) and peers at
Difference between primary and secondary forms also lies in the
character of relations among humans. Primary socialization is the area
of interpersonal relations that’s why most intensively it takes place in
the first half of human life, although fading and going out slowly, it
remains in the second half as well. Secondary socialization is the area
of social relations and it occurs in the second half of human life
whereby a person is faced with secondary agencies which have a great
impact on developing personality.
A principle asserting that development of personality is a lifelong
ascending process based on consolidating of the interiorized before, is
indisputable. But personal qualities moulded before aren’t stable or
unshakable for ever. When a person learns new roles, values or habits
instead of those badly learnt before or obsolete, re-socialization
occurs. It embraces a lot of activities – from lessons arranged to
change the child’s reading skills to vocational retraining of workers.
Development of any person is determined by a number of factors:
· family – in any civilization, it is the main area of primary
socialization of personality as it is characterized by a set of social
norms, sanctions and patterns of behaviour which regulate interactions
and relations among spouses, parents and children, other relatives. As a
rule, a child learns those patterns of behaviour typical for its
· relations of equality – including into “groups of equal”(friends,
peers of same age) also has a great impact on the process of personal
development. Interrelations among peers are more democratic as compared
to those among parents and children. In such groups, individuals enter
into various contacts with each other creating informal groups; they
often keep these relations all their life;
· education – its importance is determined by the fact that the society
ensures development of education and upbringing of the growing
generations in accordance with the values, ideals, standards of
behaviour typical for a given society. Education is a process and result
of learning systematic knowledge, skills, and at the same time a
necessary condition of preparing a person for labour activities;
· mass media (radio, press, TV, movie) are a most powerful factor of
influence on human consciousness and behaviour that means that they
influence on the socialization process;
· labour – the working process is an organizational framework within
which an individual turns to a member of the labour collective. While
turning to a worker, he learns not only professional roles but also gets
to know what is to be an executive and subordinate, leader or outsider
· culture is a specific kind of activity aimed at creating spiritual and
material wealth, so its result comes to be a system of ideals, values,
norms and patterns of behaviour embodied in the social development of a
person and his spiritual world;
· incomes play an important symbolic role. High incomes mean well-being,
high professional qualification and good business aptitudes of
· organizations such as youth associations, church, sport clubs also
participate in the development of a person.
Thus, the development of a person is determined by a number of
socio-economic factors, social factors being dominant.
At the same time the development of a person can’t avoid crises. An
American psychologist and psychiatrist Erik H. Erikson (1902-1994), who
is also known for coining the phrase “identity crisis”, developed his
theory on the social development of human beings with respect to the
psychological analysis of S. Freud. E. Erikson described eight
developmental stages of the Ego through which a human should pass from
infancy to late adulthood. In each stage a person confronts new
challenges which are hopefully mastered. Each stage builds on a
successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages which
are not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems
in the future. It should be noted that E. Erikson was the first to
identify eight stages of development, later his students added two more
to further refine adolescence and adulthood.
Thus, to E. Erikson, at each stage a human encounters the following
· infancy (birth-18 months): trust versus mistrust;
· younger years (18 months-3 years): autonomy versus shame and doubt;
· early childhood (3-6 years): initiative versus guilt;
· middle childhood (6-12 years): industry versus inferiority;
· early adolescence (12-18 years): group identity versus alienation;
· later adolescence (18-22 years): Ego-identity versus identity
· early adulthood (22-34 years): intimacy versus isolation;
· middle adulthood (34-60 years): generativity versus stagnation;
· later adulthood (60-75 years): Ego-integrity versus despair;
· old age (75 years-death): immortality versus extinction.
According to E. Erikson, the Ego, around which the individual integrates
a sense of identity, develops in the process of socialization. He, too,
thinks the society plays an important role in moulding personality. He
emphasized that socialization is a lifelong process which goes through
cycles from infancy to adolescence to various states of young, middle,
and elderly adulthood.
Agencies (agents) of socialization – structured groups or contexts
within which significant processes of socialization occur.
Basis type (of personality) – a set of typical personality’s qualities
which are dominant in the society and most fully meets the demands of a
Deliberate socialization – a socialization process when there is a
deliberate and purposeful intent to convey values, attitudes, knowledge,
Extrovert – a person who tends to focus on the outer world and external
Frustrated personality – personality characterized by low
self-assessment and depressive state.
Hedonistic materialist – a person who is oriented to satisfy his needs
Homo consumer – a modern consumer, or personality moulded by mass
society (by R. Dahrendorf).
Homo faber – a “working man”in the traditional society, or personality
allotted with an important public function (by R. Dahrendorf).
Homo soveticus – a person depending on the state (by R. Dahrendorf).
Homo universalis – a person with the aptitude to perform various
activities (by R. Dahrendorf).
Human being – a particular representative of mankind.
Idealist – a person who is critical towards traditional norms and firmly
determined to self-development.
Individual – a particular representative of mankind.
Individuality – a set of qualities or characteristics distinguishing one
person from another at the biological, psychological, social and other
Introvert – a person who tends to focus on his inner world of ideas and
Man – a most common, generic concept for a representative of mankind.
One-dimensional man – a person who perceives informational stereotypes
and moulds simplified schemes of seeing phenomena as black-and-white (by
Person – a particular representative of mankind.
Personality – a concept introduced to focus on the individual’s social
Primary socialization – a socialization process which occurs in infancy
and childhood and is the most intense period of cultural learning.
Psychological analysis – a psychological perspective of Sigmund Freud
who considered a person as hedonist, or striving for getting
satisfaction, with the society as a system of constraints and taboos.
Psychological structure (of personality) – a structure which includes
personality’s subjective qualities such as various emotions, feelings,
memory, abilities etc.
Realist – a person who can combine his strive for self-realization with
a developed sense of duty.
Re-socialization – a socialization process which occurs when a person
learns new roles, values or habits instead of those badly learnt before
Role theory – a theory positing that human behaviour is guided by
expectations held by the individual and other people. The expectations
correspond to different roles individuals perform or enact in their
Secondary socialization – a socialization process which takes place
later in childhood and into maturity.
Social structure (of personality) – a set of personality’s subjective
and objective social qualities which are created and function in the
process of his activity.
Socialization – a lifelong process by which, through contact with
others, one becomes a self-aware, knowledgeable human being, skilled in
the ways of a given culture and environment. Socialization suggests
interiorizing of social roles and cultural norms.
Traditionalist – a person who is followed by values of duty, discipline,
law; their level of self-realization, creativity is low.
Unconscious socialization – a socialization process which occurs as a
result of spontaneous interaction with no purposeful or deliberate
attempt on the part of anyone involved to train, educate or the like.
1. Blau P. Exchange and Power in Social Life. (3rd edition). – New
Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 1992. – 354 p.
2. Bourdeiu P. Logic of Practice. – Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990. – 382
3. Coser L. The Functions of Social Conflict. – Glencoe, Ill: Free
Press, 1956. – 188 p.
4. Durkheim E. The Division of Labour in Society. – New York, NY: Free
Press; 1997. – 272 p.
5. Durkheim E. Suicide. – New York, NY: Free Press; 1951. – 345 p.
Нашли опечатку? Выделите и нажмите CTRL+Enter