What’s the connection between general prosperity and socialization? Is socialization a key driver of economic growth? The answer lies in the role of families. Parents teach children about the world, and siblings, grandparents, and other relatives instill societal values. Children learn about an endless number of objects and ideas during socialization. Children develop a sense of self by being exposed to a variety of social contexts.
In modern societies, the fluidity of social roles is reflected in the role of religion. Whereas in earlier eras, people were expected to marry, live in one place, and have a career for their entire lives, people today find themselves adapting to changing conditions and picking from a global palette of cultural values. However, this fluidity can be problematic and make the transition from one role to another a difficult one.
Sociologists have recognized the role of race and social class in socialization. Compared to parents of wealthier families, poor families emphasize obedience and conformity over judgment and creativity. Working-class parents, for example, typically have less education and work in repetitive jobs that require them to conform and be obedient. Conversely, wealthy parents tend to be educated and often have careers in creative problem-solving and managerial positions.
While societal groups may be inherently good or bad, the concept of individuality is not. Simmel argues that social structures promote personal development by making individuals more compatible with their surroundings. The individual is socialized, and the socialization process reinforces these norms. But, what is the point of socialization if it doesn’t promote general prosperity? And how does it affect individual well-being?