Whether it is large or small, simple or complex, primitive or modern, every society has to introduce new members to its cultural values, norms, and behavior patterns.
Thus, in this way, the society preserves its cultural heritage and identity, holds its members together, and ensures its continued existence. This process of mediating the systems of norms and behavior regulations in society to the new members is known as socialization.
In other words, socialization is the process by which individuals acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that make them acceptable members of society.
By nature, nobody can live alone in isolation; individuals are compelled by their biological and social requirements to live in groups or societies.
Therefore, the main purpose of socialization is to assist individuals to conform to the norms and become fully integrated members of their groups or societies.
1. The family/home socializes the child
The family is the oldest and the most natural social group where individuals first learn the ways of life in society. It is, therefore, the most important agent of socialization for the complete makeup of the individual, since primary socialization begins from here.
Whatever foundation the home environment can lay is what other agencies of socialization will build upon. As rightly observed by Ezewu, et at. (19al), the individual’s identification with the group culture, religion, social class, and how he views himself have their origin in the family.
Moreover, according to them, the family has the potential of continuity to exercise a strong influence over the life of the individual even when he is an actor in other socialization settings.
This is particularly true of Nigerians who in most cases are very much attached to their extended families.
Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, the complex nature of modern societies and the rapidly changing patterns of life have made it difficult for the family alone to completely socialize the child. Other agencies do often complement the efforts of the family.
2. The school socializes the child.
The school is an artificial institution set up by societies for the main purpose of socialization of the young ones. As a result of the modern socio-economic engagements of parents and the prevailing situations, the family is no longer capable of providing all the socialization needs of the child.
Therefore, the school has become an important agent for socialization for the child through its well-planned programs of activities, instruction and practice.
The task of socialization in school now starts very early in life when the child is sometimes as young as two years old. The school unlike the family engages the services of professionally trained adults who over time are replaced.
In other words, it is not the same teacher or only one teacher that hurdles the socialization process of the child throughout his school life.
Thus, through the well-planned activities of the school, the child is provided with a wide range of opportunities for interaction with other children, adults, and facilities.
This, therefore, provides the child with the necessary experiences, skills, and attitudes for a happy and successful life in an ever-changing and complex world.
3. The peer group socializes the child.
The peer group, which comprises persons of approximately the same age, is another important agent of socialization. Although the peer group may not be an established institution such as the family or the school, it has its ways of influencing its members.
Whether in the family or the school, the peer group provides the child with a wide range of stimulating experiences, which could not be made available elsewhere. They relate on a friendly and equalitarian basis where they learn to lead and be led, to disagree and agree.
In short, the peer group helps the child to broaden his horizon in social relationships, sex roles, taste in dresses and fashion, music, eating and drinking habits as well as other behavior patterns which both the family and the school may be unable to provide.
4. The religious organization socializes the child.
A religious organization such as we find in the church and mosque is mainly interested in the moral and spiritual development of the individual. Over the ages, religious organizations have become important agents of socialization.
Through their special methods, they often influence the lives of individuals in society, particularly in the areas of religious or spiritual values.
Therefore, it is strongly believed by some people that wherever religious principles are not put into practice, moral decadence, injustice, and their attendant social evils are always serious problems to contend with in society.
This is why both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have attributed the recent upsurge in crime rates to the lack of emphasis on religious education in our schools.
5. The mass media socializes the child.
In modern societies, both electronic and print media have become very important agents of socialization. The volume frequency and variety of information passed across daily to millions of people all over the world cannot be ignored.
They are so powerful that they can change the behavior of the most conservative people anywhere within a relatively short period.
Many things which cannot be learned at home, in school, in a peer group, or in a religious organization are easily learned through the mass media.
The disadvantages of mass media are as many if not more than their advantages. For instance, they may promote negative habits such as drug abuse, rebellion, violence, etc among the young ones.
This is why some countries have placed an embargo on the importation of certain print media or some film/video productions.
Parents and teachers also take a lot of precautions to prevent the exposure of children to dangerous mass media productions.