Study Questions: Chapter 4
1. Differentiate between biological and cultural determinism. Consider a continuum illustrating the importance of socialization, with each concept on opposite ends.
Answer: Biological determinism (the side of “nature” in the old “nature versus nurture” debate) states that the greater part of what we are is determined by our roughly 26,000 genes. Cultural determinism, or behaviourism, emphasizes the power of learning (or “nurture” in the “nature versus nurture” debate) in the development of behaviour. For the behaviourist, the social environment is just about everything in the creation of personality. Biology and free will count for very little. (pp. 91–92)
2. Explain Mead’s developmental sequence for socialization.
Answer: Mead’s developmental sequence for socialization begins with the preparatory stage, which involves more or less pure imitation. The next step is the play stage, where the child engages in role-taking, assuming the perspective of significant others and imagining what those others are thinking as they act. The third stage is the game stage, in which the child considers simultaneously the perspective of several roles. In terms of baseball, for example, this is when a child, fielding the ball at shortstop, might be able to consider what the runner and the first baseman are thinking and doing. (pp. 95–96)
3. What was the subject of Huesmann’s pioneering work? What did he find?
Answer: Huesmann’s pioneering work on the effects of television violence on children involved the use of longitudinal studies, which examined data gathered on research subjects over an extended period. His first was a 22-year study of 856 youths in New York state. At the beginning of his study the participants were all in Grade 3, about 8 years of age. Huesmann followed up by interviewing them again when they were 19, and then again at 30 (Huesmann & Eron 1986). Among male subjects, the relationship between viewing television violence and engaging in aggressive behaviour roughly 10 years later was both positive and highly significant—in other words, there was a link, and it was a strong one. (p. 102)
4. Explain the role of agency in the socialization process.
Answer: Any discussion of socialization needs to cover the topics of determinism versus free will and biological determinism versus social determinism. When we speak of determinism, we are talking about the degree to which an individual’s behaviour, attitudes, and other “personal” characteristics are determined, or caused, by a specific factor. There are “hard” and “soft” versions of determinism. Proponents of the former claim that we are, in essence, programmed to think and act in a particular way, either by our biology or by our culture. Champions of the latter believe there is some room for free will or the exercise of agency in one’s life. Agency involves personal choice above and beyond the call of nature or nurture. (p. 91)
5. Outline both voluntary and involuntary resocialization.
Answer: Resocialization takes place whenever an individual shifts into a new social environment. It typically involves both unlearning and learning. Voluntary resocialization occurs when someone starts school or moves to a new school, when someone begins a job with a new company, when someone retires from work, or when someone undergoes a religious conversion. Involuntary resocialization occurred in First Nation residential schools, where the language, religion, and customs of Aboriginal children were brutally beaten out of them. Other examples of involuntary resocialization include being drafted into military service, being thrown in jail, being committed to a psychiatric hospital, and being subjected to mandatory retirement. (p. 108)
6. Briefly explain the law of effect.
Answer: The law of effect has two parts. The first one says that if you do something and it is rewarded, the likelihood of your doing it again increases; the rewarded behaviour is said to be thus “reinforced.” On the other hand, according to the second part, if you do something and it is punished or ignored, then the likelihood of your doing it again decreases. It boils down to the idea of the carrot (reward) and the stick (punishment). (p. 92)