In sociology, socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained".[1]:5[2]

Socialization is strongly connected to developmental psychology.[3] Humans need social experiences to learn their culture and to survive.[4]

Socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children.[5][6]

Socialization may lead to desirable outcomes—sometimes labeled "moral"—as regards the society where it occurs. Individual views are influenced by the society's consensus and usually tend toward what that society finds acceptable or "normal". Socialization provides only a partial explanation for human beliefs and behaviors, maintaining that agents are not blank slates predetermined by their environment;[7] scientific research provides evidence that people are shaped by both social influences and genes.[8][9][10][11]

Genetic studies have shown that a person's environment interacts with his or her genotype to influence behavioral outcomes.[12]


Notions of society and the state of nature have existed for centuries.[1]:20 In its earliest usages, socialization was simply the act of socializing or another word for socialism.[13][14][15][16] Socialization as a concept originated concurrently with sociology, as sociology was defined as the treatment of "the specifically social, the process and forms of socialization, as such, in contrast to the interests and contents which find expression in socialization".[17] In particular, socialization consisted of the formation and development of social groups, and also the development of a social state of mind in the individuals who associate. Socialization is thus both a cause and an effect of association.[18] The term was relatively uncommon before 1940, but became popular after World War II, appearing in dictionaries and scholarly works such as the theory of Talcott Parsons.[19]