Interactionist theory of socialization

The Interactionist theory of socialization believes that individuals are socialized through interaction based on symbols and the emulation of the roles of others. For interaction plays are the significant role in making children into social individuals. Through plays we see the reaction of other people to themselves.  They learn to adopt various roles, for example they can copy the role of “Daddy” and “Mummy” which can help them to learn their gender roles, as well as how others would react to their attitude.

Mead’s constricted a theory of “I” and “Me” where the “I” is the active part whereas the “me” is the reservoir of social experience; according to Mead this is how identity was formed. When an individual is born the “I” is present but the “Me” is yet to be developed. With the help of the agencies of socialization, the “me” is constructed, along with the help of sanctions and awards.  It is a dimension of personality and is called “The self” this reflects your identity and the image which others have of you. For Mead, the identity is composed of three things. First is “the self”, and then comes the formation of the personal identity which is characteristics distinct only to the individual such as nicknames or an identity card. Lastly is the social identity which is determined by what characteristics your culture associates your social role with.

According to the Interactionist theory when you are 4-5 years of age you move away from the significant others to generalized others. Significant others are individuals important to a person, their influence is crucial as their appraisal is important to you; thereby an individual tries to imitate them and avoid anything that they disapprove of. On the other hand, the generalized other are the widely accepted norms and values which shape your perceptions and expectations.

The Interactionist theory mostly emphasizes on the importance of social interactions. They believe that if children do not interact they will then only learn to mimic behavior, which means they will not be able to understand the intention behind certain actions. Interactionists believe that intention is important as it differentiates humans from other creatures. They give an individual agency as they let him/her construct his/her own reality based on his/her own interactions and reactions of other people. It is a “micro-perspective” which studies socialization of human under a magnifying glass and is not an abstract idea.

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