Most people fail to recognize the cycle of socialization that they have inhabited over the years since their inception. This is because they have not deliberately evaluated the biases accompanied by being born with a particular gender, a particular race, their first language, skin colour, religion, sexuality, economic class, and/or age and disability/ability status. They haven’t considered the differences through which people associate with each other based on stringent social rules which unconsciously and unceremoniously have compelled people to live within.
This explains the cycle of socialization: people are born with specific social differences and distinct identities. Some social distinctions form agents of oppression in the socialization of people which make the social system pervasive, continuous and steady, inexhaustible, circular, and intra-dependent. These explain the level of socialization as almost unintentional hence invisible and unconscious. However, with the cycle of socialization as propounded by Bobbie Harro in 2004, these elements will be considered.
It is important to note that the cycle of socialization contains the consciousness of people in understanding what roles to play and they play them as expected. As they evolve, they are taught what to be and how to be it and since they existed innocently without a contradictory template, they live amid these social directions of change that perpetuate themselves in their lives. They simply exist with an already fashioned-out meaning without creating any by themselves. This cycle of socialization will be explained in the stages at which it evolves below.
People are born into a world with functional parameters of oppression. This is because there is no individual consciousness which means people can’t make choices for themselves nor can they recognize guilt or blame for any wrong that isn’t deemed as wrong in the society where they’ve developed. Further, they possess limited information about their social identity hence, they retain a form of innate bias, stereotypes, and other traditions without their consciousness of it.
When a child is in the womb, there are no sort of surveys that seek his permission as to what nation he wishes to be born into, nor a choice of his sexuality, gender or religious belief. A child is born without his permission as to “to whom” or “at where” and this is not his fault. Thus, his identities are without question.
However, in this world where oppression has a face, he builds on the traits which his culture and traditions inhabit. Cultures inhabit a level of stereotypes built on myths, and an awful level of prejudices. There are two fundamental groups of identities: the dominant agent group and the subordinate or target groups. The dominant agent group is considered lucky because they have a high level of social power and are privileged. They are mostly men, whites, people born into middle and upper classes, abled people, middle-aged persons, and heterosexuals.
The subordinate or target and unlucky groups are identified as women, blacks, LGBTQs, Jews, poor people, oppressed persons, and disabled people. This stereotype is informed by the misinformation and victimization of this group by the dominant agent group. A child who is born in either of these groups inherits this bias and thought unconsciously and s/he continues the social cycle with the ignorance of his environment.
Cycle 1: First Socialization
As the child begins to shape into the psychology of consciousness by growth, he grows in a society he trusts, loves, and believes in. He follows rules and his thought is shaped by the “norm”. He is taught how to behave: how hard boys must be, how people must stay in their place, and how Christianity is the only way to God. He obeys these values.
At this stage, there is no independent thought and people unconsciously conform to the views of prejudices. However, these people are not to be blamed, nor are their parents or guardian. This is because their parents had lived with these beliefs and had not developed a consciousness of their own. These beliefs can, however, be positive or negative depending on the environment of a child. While a son is born into a rigid patriarchal family, another is born into a feminist family. Both sons will develop divergent views on womanhood.
Cycle 2: Institutional and Cultural Socialize
Conscious or unconscious statements from legal, religious, and social institutions defend these biases. Even media outlets disseminate messages that defend and instil cultural biases in people. As people visit religious places, they are informed of God’s disdain toward some people. While they visit cultural places, hospitals, sports facilities, business, and legal offices, and other social sectors, a status of bias is institutionalized.
There are regulations to follow and rules not to break. Only whites can join the tennis team, boys must not talk or walk like girls, and rich people can miss classes for vacation. These and other forms of assumed preferential treatment are celebrated and subordinate persons are victimized.
This reinforces a level of discrimination across cultures. As people believe that God will burn LGBTQs, legal systems rationalize how blacks remain a threat because they’re strong.
Enforcement: a system of reward and punishment for those who play or did not play by the rules. As those in the dominant agent group defend their dominance, the target groups are not expected to question or fight for a status of recognition.
The dominant agent group hence maintains the cycle of socialization. Those who stick to the rules are rewarded and those who contradict the societal thoughts pay the price for being independent. People who stick to these rules are recognized, granted social power and autonomy
People of the target groups are criminalized when they question skin, gender, and/or sexuality prejudices. They are attacked even when they’ve presented no threat because their existence is deemed a threat on its own.
Cycle 3: results
This form of socialization leads to bad outcomes for those with or without social or political power. There is a misconception, coupled with stress, conspiracy, inequality, hatred, violence, and a sort of inevitable self-destruction by people in the target group. They feel a degree of helplessness and suffer internal oppression. They are silenced and stressed and their stereotypes are reinforced by the “norms” prevailing in the institutions where they exist.
People from the dominant agent group may at this stage begin to interrogate why they’ve inherited particular traits. However, the act of oppression continues when people remain unconscious and unwilling to change oppressive behaviours and policies. These often result in the rise in crime rate, individualism, dualism, domination, competition, poverty, drugs etcetera.
The core of the cycle:
As the “lucky” group question why they’ve held oppressive beliefs, they find ways to alienate themselves. However, before this period, their thought is dominated by the ignorance of their ignoble acts. For those who hold racist beliefs, they don’t hold that it is bad because their environment says it’s not. This is reinforced by insecurity which could lead to the fear of being overwhelmed by a black group that a white had empowered. Equally, the subordinate persons feel insecure too. They are helpless and unprotected.
There is similar confusion on which side to belong to as well as obliviousness which can also inform fear. Thus, ignorance, insecurity, confusion, obliviousness, and fear inform the core of the cycle which makes the flexibility of just ideas rigid.
A direction for change and/or the continuation of the oppressive socialization cycle:
At this stage of consciousness, people acknowledge the evil they’ve believed in. He begins to rationalize and question the system. He discerns the wrong things and grows a more liberal thought and thus begins to change, recognize marginalized people, and begin to do something about such oppressive acts.
On the other hand, some grow older to reinforce the oppressive socialization cycle. They live to promote the status quo, they hold racist, patriarchal, and other stiff oppressive systems. They neither question nor challenge it. They thus give birth to another generation who inherit these traits from them. In this same vein, the target group also linger in their depressed positions.