Social development is the process of learning values, knowledge and skills that help a child to relate to others efficiently. Through social development, a child can contribute to the family, school and society in positive ways.
Social development results from the process of socialization. According to Newmeyer, the process of changing an individual into a social creature is known as socialization.
In other words, as a process, socialisation consists of social development whereby a child is gradually transformed into a social being. It is the socialisation process that helps children to learn from others. Through socialisation, a child learns how to eat, behave, talk and dress-up in the same manner as others do in his/her community. Family plays the most important role in the socialisation process of a child. A child learns from his/her family about social norms that explain what type of behaviour is accepted in the society and what is not. A child learns these socially acceptable norms gradually. He learns that confirming to norms not only helps in avoiding punishment but also in gaining social recognition.
Through socialisation, a child slowly develops his/her own self-concept related to ego.
He/she learns ‘I’ by the age of two and develops a sense for other persons as ‘You’ by the age of three. Around the age of four, the child begins to see himself/herself as a part of a larger group. Here, he/she learns to accept and trust others. He learns to cooperate and also starts developing some doubts. All these learning form a part of social development that continues throughout the human lifecycle.
Social development involves delivering knowledge, culture and wisdom to children directly by their teachers, and indirectly through their social relationships with friends and family. Such relationships increase the social awareness of a child and build his/her self-identity.
Developing an identity is important for children as it gives them a sense of who they are and what their roles in the society are. Self-identification also helps children in social adjustment. While establishing an identity, a child must recognise himself/herself as a human being. This may appear as an exceedingly fundamental idea, but a number of variations can be seen in a child’s behaviour due to the process of socialisation.
As children grow, they respond to their surrounding stimuli that help in shaping their relationships. During the first two years, a child starts identifying grown-ups around him/her. Apart from identification, a child also develops an ability to imitate others at the age of three and more. However, a child may imitate anyone without any strong identification or emotional link.
The concepts, principles and knowledge that children gain about their identity help him/her to understand his/her role in the society. Apart from their own judgement, children also make self-concepts based on feedback received from others. For example, primary school children develop their self-concepts by recognising how well they are doing schoolwork and other activities, and how they get along with their family and peers.
There are some developmental patterns of children that denote to their increasing abilities for thinking, understanding and managing emotions and behaviour. For example, during preschool, children often have extraordinary views of their abilities.
However, during the primary school, they become more familiar of their actual abilities as they start comparing their skills with others. The following table explains a child’s perception at different developmental stages:
Table: Social Development Stage And Child’s Perception
|Developmental Stage||A Child’s Statement||Explanation|
|Preschool||“I am a boy. I am three years old. I live with my mummy, dad, and brother. I can play cricket and I can out all players.”||At this stage, a child is basically able to describe his/her physical status like age, gender etc. He/she can also make a few statements regarding his/her family and favourite activity. The child at this stage does not know his/her actual abilities.|
|Primary school||“I am good at English as I get good grades. But, Rahul is better than me in drawing. I am popular at school because I am very friendly.”||At this stage, the child starts reali-sing his actual abilities and com-pares his/her capabilities with others. The child at this level becomes able to rank his/her performance.|
|Secondary school||“I am an extrovert as I like to talk. sometimes when I do not get my favourrite food I become angry. I am a little bit moody by nature. I love my parents as they support me in every case”||By this stage, a child fully recognises his/her actual identity and capabilities. The child understands that he/she has certain personal characteristics that are subject to change.|
It is important to recognise and support a child’s strengths and efforts to motivate him/her for learning and building relationships. Poor self-identification may create emotional and behavioural difficulties for children.
Agents Of The Socialisation Process
The socialisation process constitutes of several norms that an individual requires to follow. Without conforming to such norms, an individual cannot play an effective role in the society. A child learns to accept and behave in accordance with such norms with the help of some key agents of socialisation, which are listed in the give figure:
Agents of the Socialisation – Family, Peer groups, School
Process Let us discuss about these key agents of the socialisation process in detail.
Family: It is the primary and the most influential institution for the social development of a child. A family denotes the basic social unit for raising a child and includes a group of persons who are closely related by birth or by marriage. It majorly consists of parents, spouse, children, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins. A family plays the most significant role in moulding and shaping a child’s behaviour. The environment at Agents of Socialisation Process Family Peer Groups School home lays the foundation of a child’s moral and social growth. As an agent of socialisation, a family has two major characteristics:
► A family has almost the overall control on the child during the first few years of his/her life. Apart from this, family members also have significant control on a child’s activities during his/her later childhood and adolescent years.
► The emotional bond between a child and his family motivates the child to socialise.
Peer groups: These are groups of people who are almost of the same age as the child. A child usually starts getting influenced by peer groups at the age of three or so.
For a child, peer groups basically constitute friends, who do not belong to his/her immediate family. Peer group broadens the socialisation process of a child and helps him/her in learning the basic rules of group interaction. In addition, a peer group also helps the child to learn more complex approaches of cooperation, power, control, teamwork and negotiation.
School: Another major primary agent of socialisation is the school. Apart from family, children are exposed to schools that influence a child’s idea development process to a significant extent. Schools have three major components: teachers, classes and texts, and a culture. For an effective social development of a child, it is necessary that all these three components work together to shape the social ideology of a child.
Role Of Parents In Developing A Sense Of Security In The Child
Of the many relationships that a child forms through the process of socialisation, the relationship between the parent and the child is the most important. An infant relies on parents for his/her need such as love, food, comfort and learning. To grow and socialise properly, a child needs a feeling of security that only a parent can give to him/her. A sense of security gives a child confidence to start developing deeper relationships with others.
Following are a few suggestions that can help parents to bring a sense of security in their child:
► Parents should assure that their child is surrounded by reliable people. As the child’s basic needs are fulfilled, he/she starts developing the sense of love and trust.
► Familiarising the child about the basic rules of escaping from any risk helps him/her to feel more secure. For example, taking a crawling infant back if he/she is off-limits. A child feels more comfortable if there is a set routine for do’s and don’ts in his/her life.
► Parents should encourage a child’s urge to explore new things. This helps in establishing guidelines for the child regarding what must be restricted and developing a problem-solving attitude. If a child knows that there is a problem that he/she requires to resolve, to reach the goal, he/she would try to solve it.
Success may lead to psychological satisfaction; however, failure may result into frustration. This is a lesson that a child needs to learn at an early age. ► An infant after a few months of his/her birth starts getting used to seeing other people. This helps in making the child feel secure that there are other people as well apart from its parents.
Role Of Parents In The Socialisation Process Of The Child
The process of socialisation depends a lot on the intellectual level of a child. The intellectual activities of a child become more complex as he/she grows. Parents play an important role in assisting a child in his/her mental growth. For example, if a child is observing a book, parents may explain to him/her what is shown in the book. This also helps improving a child’s language as he/she becomes familiar with multiple new words explained in the book.
Parents can help in the intellectual growth of a child by encouraging him/her to get familiar with objects that are new to the child and towards which the child feels curious. The parents can also guide a child to organise his/her thinking in a manner that is appropriate for the age. The child can be given suggestions by his/her parents about looking at a problem from different perspectives. For example, suggesting to a two-year old about different patterns of building a block tower or advising a four-year old about a kindergarten activity of mixing different colours. There are few general guidelines that parents can follow for developing the child’s problem-solving ability:
► Let a child work on only one problem at a time. This is because more than one problem may become confusing for him/her.
► Parents should remain patient and give their child time for trial and error.
► Parents should try not to judge the child’s achievements from an adult’s point of view.
► Parents should know when to stop solving problems for a child. It encourages the child to develop his/her own problem-solving skills.
► A child tends to follow the behaviour of his/her parents. Therefore, parents should try to study and analyse their own problem-solving behaviour. This would help the child to learn how to resolve a problem through step-by-step sequences.
► Parents should try to encourage a child to use imagination while resolving any problem. This helps the child in showing more creativity while observing a new problem.
Factors In Socialisation
► Imitation: It is an activity of copying another individual’s actions. Mead defines imitation as self-conscious assumption of another’s acts or roles. For example, a child imitates his/her father if he is trying to walk impressively wearing his/her father’s glasses. Imitation can be a conscious or unconscious attempt. Similarly, it can be spontaneous or deliberate. In socialisation, imitation acts as a main factor through which a child learns many social behavioural patterns. For example, a child learns a language and accent only through imitation.
► Suggestion: According to Mc. Dougall, suggestion is the process of communication resulting in the acceptance with connections of the communicated proposition in the absence of logically adequate grounds for its acceptance. A suggestion involves communicating information through language, pictures or some related medium. It can be logical or illogical in nature. The suggestibility of a child is usually more than that of a grown-up as in infancy a child does not consider the logical aspects of suggestions. However, the suggestibility decreases as the child gets matured and starts judging all the aspects of suggestions before giving them to others. There are several conditions that affect the suggestibility of a child. Cerebral ability, unawareness, self-consciousness, dissociation, emotional enthusiasm and fatigue are some of the conditions that affect suggestibility at large.
► Identification: At an early age, most of the actions of a child are random as he/she cannot make any distinction among the entities present in an environment. As the child grows, he/she becomes aware of different things, which are used to satisfy needs. For example, in case a child feels thirsty he/she looks at the water bottle. Such things become the identification object for the child. He/she develops the speed for identifying various new areas over a period of time. Identification helps a child in becoming sociable to several elements that he/she sees in surroundings.
► Language: It is the medium of social contact and cultural transmission. In an early age, an infant usually utters some random syllables with no meaning.
However, gradually, as the child starts identifying objects in surroundings he/she comes to learn words that are a part of his/her mother tongue. Gradually, he/she starts relating words to form meaningful sentences to communicate with others.
Socialisation can be of various types as shown in the following figure:
► Primary socialisation: It creates a base for all future socialisation of a child. As the child starts learning, attitudes, values and actions related to a particular culture, his/her primary socialisation also gets started. The main agents for primary socialisation are family and friends.
► Secondary socialisation: It includes learning the behaviour that is considered appropriate within a community. Such type of socialisation occurs at schools, playgrounds and neighbourhoods where a child learns how to behave in an appropriate manner to adjust into the situation.
► Anticipatory socialisation: It refers to a type of socialisation where an individual practices for future positions and social relationships. Through anticipatory socialisation, an individual learns the culture of a group he/she wishes to join. By learning beliefs, values and norms of an anticipated group, the individual knows how to act in the new role.
► Re-socialisation: It is a type of socialisation that discards former behaviour patterns of an individual’s life and accepts new ones as part of a transition. Resocialisation usually takes place when a social role of an individual is completely changed. For example, when a criminal is rehabilitated, he/she has to change his/her role as per legal society norms.
► Organisational socialisation: It can be defined as a learning and adjustment process that helps an individual to adjust in an organisational role to fulfil both organisational and individual needs. In other words, organisational socialisation is a dynamic process where an individual assumes a new role within an organisation.
► Group socialisation: It describes an association between a group and an individual. It is assumed that behaviour of both, group and individual changes Primary Socialisation Secondary Socialisation Anticipatory Socialisation Re-socialisation Organisational Socialisation Group Socialisation Gender Socialisation regularly over a period of time and therefore, both require learning how to adjust to newly raised circumstances.
► Gender socialisation: This type of socialisation aims to determine a set of behaviours, attitudes and personality characteristics that are expected from an individual depending on his/her gender. Gender socialisation explains why males and females behave in different ways to perform different social roles. Gender socialisation occurs through parental attitudes, schools and peer interactions.
► Racial socialisation: It refers to a type of socialisation through which parents transmit information, values and perceptions about ethnicity and race to their children.
Urie Bronfenbrenner proposed this theory of human social development in the year 1979.
This theory has helped greatly in analysing and understanding a person and the effect of different environmental systems that he or she encounters. Though the theory has undergone many changes since its first publication, it became the foundation for many other theoretical works. The Ecological System theory explains the changes that happen in a child and how a child’s environment affects him as he grows and develops. The theory emphasises that environmental factors as playing the major role to development.
The below given figure depicts the ecological theory of human development
Erik Homberger Erikson’s theory of development explains the social development of human beings. The theory comprises eight stages, each of which denotes to a different element of an individual’s growth and progress. According to Erikson, every human being goes through a certain number of phases from birth to death to reach his/her maximum development.
As per this theory, the development in early childhood largely takes place in the first four stages; however the remaining four stages deal with more complex issues that traditionally appear in adulthood. The given table shows eight stages in the Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development theory:
Table: Eight Stages in the Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development Theory
|Stage||Age (years)||Basic Conflict||Important Events||Summary|
|Infancy||Birth to 1.5||Trust vs. mistrust||Feeding||The infant at this stage forms a loving and trusting relationship with the caregiver. A lack of this may develop a sense of mistrust.|
|Early Child hood||1.5 to 3||Autonomy vs. shame/ doubt||Toilet Training||A child’s energies are directed toward the development of physical skills, including walking, grasping, and rectal sphincter control. Success at this stage leads to autonomy and sense of independence, while failures may develop shame and doubt.|
|Pre-school||3 to 6||Initiative vs. guilt||Exploration||The child continues to become more assertive and take more initiatives. However, children who exert too much power experience disapproval leading to guilt feelings. Success at this stage leads to a sense of purpose, while failure might result into a feeling of guilt.|
|School Age||6 to 12||Industry vs. inferiority||School||The child needs to deal with new social and academic demands to learn new skills. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure may lead to a sense of inferiority and incompetence.|
|Adoles-cence||12 to 18||Identity vs. role confusion||School Relation ships||The teenager needs to achieve a sense of identity. Success leads to remain true to oneself, while failure may lead to role confusion.|
|Early Adult hood||19 to 40||Intimacy vs. isolation||Relationships||The young adult need to develop intimate relation ships or they may suffer from the feelings of isolation. Success at this stage leads to strong relation-ships, while failure might result into loneliness and isolation.|
|Middle Adult hood||40 to 65||Generativity vs. stagnation||Work and Parenthood||Each adult must find some way to satisfy and support the next generation. Success at this stage leads to a feeling of accom plishment, while failure might result into desolation and shallow involvement in the world.|
|Maturity||65 to death||Ego integrity vs. despair||Reflection on life||Older adults need to look back at life and feel a sense of fulfilment. Success at this stage leads to wisdom and self satisfaction, while failure might result into regret, bitter-ness and despair.|
In this modern world, equality has become the prime concern. By equality, we refer to equal opportunities for education, learning and working for both the genders. Gender refers to the social distinctions between males and females that have been developed by the society. These distinctions can be apparently observed in the roles defined for both the genders and their individual status. However, it is to be noticed that gender roles vary from culture to culture and change over a period of time.
Gender role stereotyping is constructed by society and is influenced by factors such as class, religion, race and language. According to many philosophical and sociological theories, gender roles are created by society and culture. But some versions of these theories argue that the difference between the behaviour of men and women are entirely based on social conventions, whereas there are other theories that argue that behaviour is the result of biological factors. Apart from this, presence of more than two genders is also claimed by many theories.
According to West and Zimmerman, gender is not a personal trait. It is “an emergent feature of social situations: both as an outcome of and a rationale for various social arrangements, and as a means of legitimating one of the most fundamental divisions of society.”
Nature Of Gender Issues
Society and cultures though perceive women to be better than men in areas of memory, language, verbal aptitude and some aesthetic-related matters, men are considered better in intellect related areas such as reasoning, spatial relations and calculations. Moreover, men are generally believed to be rational, logical, unemotional and strong.
Such perception gives rise to gender issues, which, in turn, impact the outlook of the society. To comprehend gender issues, let us first understand their nature:
► The perception of society is that a female child is different from a male child; thus, stereotypic roles are defined for each gender.
► It is also observed that teachers in schools employ various methods and strategies that are biased against female students.
► Female infanticide is still on a rise as girls are considered a burden. ► Health and education of boys is considered more important than that of girls.
Better school, food, clothes, etc. are provided to boys.
► Higher education of girls is not supported as they are supposed to get married early and take care of their families.
► Gender bias also exists in textbooks in the content, illustrations, etc.
Gender bias is generally observed due to people’s assumptions related to behaviours, abilities and preferences. In schools, due to strong stereotypes, children who are not able to match the expectations, encounter various problems. For instance, boys are expected to exhibit exuberant and unruly behaviour, perform academically well, be rational and socially uncommunicative. On the other hand, girls are expected to be quiet, polite and studious. But if children are not able to meet these expected roles, their self-confidence and academic performance get affected.
Gender bias is also observed in different subject areas and school activities. One such example is the different pattern of participation of males and females in subjects like mathematics and science. Boys are believed to excel girls in mathematics and sciences due to their inborn talent, whereas the credit of good performance of girls in these subjects is always given only to their hard work. Due to this stereotyped mindset, teachers adopt biased attitude towards boys and girls.
Besides this, due to gendered perceptions of students’ abilities, the teachers tend to praise and support boys more than girls. Boys’ work is often described as relevant and more valuable over girls’ work, which at times, is only appraised for its appearance. Such feedback can be unfavourable for the development of girls as it does not provide correct opinion about their work. Moreover, it may lead to lack of interest and lower their confidence.
The gender bias followed by teachers can also extend to their response towards students who challenge their authority. For instance, risk-taking capacities, strongheaded behaviour and assertiveness of boys are often praised, while the same features in girls are ridiculed and considered unfeminine traits.
Teachers also use their gender expectations in maintaining discipline in the classroom. For example, undisciplined boys are often made to sit with girls as a part of class management strategy. In addition, teachers often ask girls to help the students who lack behind in any subject as girls are expected to possess the nurturing trait that can help in managing such students.
Impact Of Gender Bias
The impact of gender bias can be realised on students’ attitudes towards learning and their involvement in specific subjects. For instance, success of girls is perceived as hard work than any innate talent or intelligence. Similarly, boys may believe that they can succeed in subjects like mathematics and science easily due to their gender.
However, many of these boys drop out of science or mathematics programmes in colleges because of their inability to perform well, irrespective of their ‘gender’.
It is also noticed that teachers do not keep high expectations from girls for academic success as compared to that of boys. These expectations form the basis of the treatment meted out to boys and girls in schools. Teachers tend to focus more on the appearance of the work done by girls, while their focus shifts to the content in case of boys. Moreover, they tend to give more attention to boys’ activities in class as compared to that of girls’. Boys are encouraged more to participate in classroom discussions and share their knowledge and opinion, while girls are asked simpler and easier questions, and their ideas are not given much importance.
Measures To Reduce Gender Bias
Gender bias can negatively impact the minds of both the genders. To reduce this, teachers need to assess their pedagogical practices and see where they are going wrong. Some questions that may help in this assessment are given below:
► Who are the students with whom the teacher’s maximum interaction takes place in the class?
► What are the techniques used by the teacher to engage both girls and boys in a subject?
► Does the teacher ask the same type of questions to both girls and boys?
► What type of pedagogical and assessment practices are used by the teacher for eradicating gender bias?
Teachers can also record their sessions and review later to understand where they are lacking. They can also ask a peer or colleague to come and attend the session and record the types of questions being asked to students. But teachers should stay prepared to bear the consequences of any change made in their pedagogical practices. For instance, boys may react negatively on not receiving their expected ‘fair share’ of attention, and may cause disturbance and indiscipline in the class.
For developing gender equitable stereotypes, teachers should develop and adopt strategies that offer the development of inherent abilities of both the genders.
Teachers should endeavour to bring equality of sexes by understanding the nature of the gender issues and developing strategies for an unbiased teaching-learning process.
In India, teachers should encourage girls to develop a better self-image by inspiring them to participate in both curricular and co-curricular activities. For this, teachers can develop specific activities that may help girls to be at par with boys.
To eradicate inequality between the sexes and gender bias, government too has initiated numerous welfare schemes and programmes to promote the well-being and education of the girl child. However, there are economic, and social issues associated with female literacy that government as well as teachers need to deal with.
The objective of the teachers should be to establish classroom environments that give importance to both the genders and not favour biased behaviour. Moreover, regular monitoring of gender bias should be incorporated to minimise its negative impact on students’ learning and growth opportunities.