What are some examples that show the difference between intentional socialization and unintentional socialization?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Socialization is the process of preparing children to become adult members of society. Some of this is done intentionally but a significant amount of socialization occurs unintentionally as children discover which behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate by observation and experimentation.

Parents socialize children both intentionally and unintentionally. When a parent insists that a child say "please" or "thank you" or teaches a child table manners, that is intentional socialization. The parent's own behavior, however, socializes the child unintentionally. For example, if parents put away electronic devices, dine together, and converse and pay attention to each other during dinner, that teaches the children one sort of behavior, whereas if parents spend dinnertime on the phone or watching TV, and seem more concerned with electronic devices than with their families, that teaches children a very different sort of behavior.

Schools also contain examples of intentional and intentional socialization. Schools explicitly teach both various subjects and also proper behavior such as standing in line, not yelling, and taking turns. Peer group interactions, however, are a form of unintentional socialization in which students learn the rules of their particular cohort. Children may learn gender norms, for example, from observing what is admired among their peers or from popular media in a form of unintentional socialization.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Socialization is the process by which we are taught the values of our society and its assumptions about how we are supposed to behave.  We can be taught these things intentionally, or we can be taught them simply by what is implied.

An example of intentional socialization comes when parents explicitly tell their children what is expected of them.  They might say "boys don't hit girls."  Or they might say "big boys don't cry."  These are values and norms that are being transmitted explicitly and intentionally.

However, we are also taught things by people who do not know that they are teaching us or who do not mean to be teaching us.  When little girls are told how cute they look, people are not trying to teach them a lesson.  But the girls are getting the message that looking cute is a good thing.  When Disney movies show a female character waiting for her prince to rescue her, they are not trying to send a message.  But little girls absorb the message that girls are meant to be passive.

In these ways, we are socialized both intentionally by people who are actively trying to teach us things and unintentionally by people who are simply expressing the values of our society as a matter of course.