There is a very close link between socialization and prejudice. As the saying goes, hatred is learned. We tend to take on the characteristics of the people who raise us and the community we grow up in. Even though some people are able to rise above their circumstances, we are products of our environments. If we are raised in an environment of hate, we may likely grow up to hate. If we are raised in an environment of tolerance, we will tolerate.
Many sources influence prejudice and discrimination but the very beginning of this development starts in a child's home environment. In some cases, the child will accept and continue the beliefs of his/her family. In some cases, the child will reject those beliefs.
Outside of the home, people are influenced by the neighborhood, the schools they attend, jobs, friends, extended family members etc.
Personal experiences also influence prejudice and discrimination. If a person witnesses something troubling, or just has a negative experience with a certain group they have preconceived notions about, then these experiences will just further reinforce their beliefs and prejudices.
Furthermore, the media (radio, print, movies, commercials, news shows, tv...) is extremely powerful. I think the media impacts us all more than what we may realize. The portrayal of certain groups has always historically been biased and known to reinforce social stereotypes and prejudices.
I agree with those who say, that the parent or guardian introduces a child to his or her first understandings of differences. We are an amalgamation of different influential sources. Consequently, it is up to the parent to continue to address the concept of differences and to how the child should respond. These early influences seem to carry the most weight as children learn and grow.
I would have to agree that young children are going to notice the differences in people. Whether that difference is in skin color or some kind of disability. It is up to the parents to determine how the children react to and treat the people who are different than they are. This would be the socialization.
One of my favorite billboards was in Orlando, Florida several years back. There were two boys--one white, one black, with their arms around each other...both smiling with toothless grins, looking innocent and happy. The caption read: No one is born a bigot. It was beautiful, and telling. Children learn what they are taught. If you tell rascist jokes, you know your child is picking up on that sentiment. If you constantly make statements about only this group is on welfare or that group can't dance...of course, children will take you for your word since you are the adult whom they trust most in the world. Once children understand and learn that they can think for themselves, often it is too late to backtrack and re-wire that learning.
No one is born racist or sexist. We are trained, almost every day, and from the minute we are born, what is considered acceptable and expected behavior when dealing and interacting with other people.
While the perception of differences is partly hardwired into humanity (because we can think and reason), in order for that to evolve into racism and discrimination, and more formal socialization process has to take place.
I think children are prone to noticing differences (in everything, really). My daughter notices right away that other little girls have much longer hair than she does. She notices different skin colors, different accents, different rules, etc. And most kids, once verbal, will point out these differences.
I think socialization has to do with how kids learn to perceive the differences they are constantly noticing, by observing how others react to them. Pre-School aged children are hard wired to see things in black and white, right and wrong. When something is different from what they are used to, they automatically label it "wrong." Through diverse experiences growing up (or lack of diversity) kids will pick up on the prejudices and discrimination that exist for the people who influence them the most.
I think it is probably the most healthy practice to allow them to notice the differences, point them out, and then teach them that they are totally normal.
Socialisation is how we learn the norms and values or the "rules" of our society and family. Clearly therefore this important sociological process is incredibly vital in determining our own prejudices and discriminations. Whether we like it or not, so much of our make-up is a result of our first few years on our plant, and our parents are largely responsible (though not exclusively) for the kinds of values and beliefs that we come to hold. Therefore if you are brought up in a family with parents that are openly racist, for example, you might find that you are influenced by this into being prejudiced against other races yourselves.
Socialization refers to the way that the values of our society and/or our families are passed down to us as we are raised.
The socialization we get will influence how much prejudice we feel towards other groups. I was raised in a multi-racial family so clearly I would be socialized to not be prejudiced, at least against the two races represented in my family. Someone raised in a religion that is strongly against homosexuality might have prejudices against gay people.
Our families and our peers show us what we are "supposed to" feel about other types of people.