Just Sociology

Exploring Secondary Socialization: Agents and Examples

Understanding socialization is integral to understanding human behavior and the functioning of societies. Primary socialization, which occurs in childhood, lays the foundation for an individual’s understanding of his or her culture and social norms.

However, as individuals navigate new situations and encounters with different people, secondary socialization comes into play. In this article, we will explore secondary socialization in depth, including its definition, importance, and agents of socialization.

Definition and Examples

Secondary socialization refers to the process through which individuals learn the values and norms of their particular society. This process is especially relevant during adolescence and adulthood when individuals encounter new situations and people.

Secondary socialization involves learning the behavior patterns that are considered acceptable by society to fit into new situations, including schools, occupational skills, peer groups, and gender roles, among others. One example of secondary socialization is when a person joins a new workplace.

The person will learn about the norms and behavior patterns expected in the workplace, such as arriving on time, dressing appropriately, and following the chain of command. Another example of this would be when people move to a new country and learn to adjust to a new culture, language, and social norms.

Secondary socialization is an ongoing process throughout an individual’s lifetime, as social norms and values continue to evolve.

Importance of Secondary Socialization

Secondary socialization is crucial as it allows individuals to understand and adopt correct behavior in new situations. One cannot always rely solely on primary socialization for guidance since new situations do not always follow the same patterns as past experiences.

Secondary socialization helps people to function effectively in new social and cultural environments by promoting socialization into the majority of people’s behaviors. Moreover, secondary socialization aids in the transmission of culture, allowing individuals to understand their place within society and the norms, values, and beliefs that govern it.

Through secondary socialization, individuals internalize social norms and ethics, which allows for effective functioning within their society.

Agents of Secondary Socialization


Currently, media serves as a prominent agent of secondary socialization. Everyone is exposed to the media through television, music, newspapers, and social networking.

The media can shape individuals’ beliefs, values, and norms, as individuals engage with and consume the media at varying levels. Mass media has significant influence in the formation of social norms and values, and advertising plays a significant role in shaping individual preferences for deodorants, clothes or other products.

Social media, on the other hand, is a new phenomenon that has a significant impact. Social media platforms are used to create friendships and online social networks where social norms and behaviors can be created and reinforced.

These social networks eventually generate their norms, which can be significant in guiding a vast number of individuals to certain behaviors or beliefs.


Schools act as agents of secondary socialization due to their roles in providing education and learning essential social skills, such as following routines, preparing children for leadership roles in society, patriotism, and nationalism. The hidden curriculum is another that plays a significant role in secondary socialization.

However, conscious curriculum practices are used explicitly to teach literacy, numeracy skills, and citizenship to students. Informal curriculum refers to the accidental and more subtle messages that students extract from their experiences in school.

These messages include discipline, obedience, and respect for authority.

Schools play a significant role in reinforcing formal norms and the informal norms associated with behavior, conduct, and how individuals fit in society.

Peer Groups

Peer groups refer to groups of individuals with specific interests or ages that share similar social positions, such as students, soldiers, or athletes. Peer groups are essential agents of socialization for people who are part of a culture and are expected to conform to its established norms.

Adolescents learn about social norms, values, and beliefs through peer groups, which may not necessarily conform to school norms. Peer groups can exert both positive and negative influences on behavior, and researchers suggest that peer groups exert a constructive influence by offering support and reinforcing socially acceptable behavior norms.

However, peer groups may also create pressure to engage in risky behavior. Conclusion:

In conclusion, secondary socialization is an ongoing process through which individuals learn and adopt the values, beliefs, and norms that govern their society.

Understanding secondary socialization and its agents enables individuals to understand various social situations effectively. Acknowledging the importance of media, schools, and peer groups in socialization can help individuals shape their attitudes and behavior while remaining integrated into their societies.

Socialization is an ongoing life-long process, and its agents continue to shape individual and collective behaviors. Understanding the role and impact of secondary socialization agents enhances the relevance of the socialization process in fostering an effective societal equilibrium.

Examples of Secondary Socialization Through the Lifespan

Gender Roles

Gender roles refer to the expectations about behavior and attitudes that individuals hold based on one’s sex. This subtopic focuses on how individuals learn gender roles through secondary socialization.

Studies have shown that parental treatment perpetuates gender stereotypes by assigning different tasks, roles, and expectations based on an individual’s sex. For example, parents may assign household chores more frequently to daughters than to sons, consequently reinforcing the idea that traditional gender roles are essential in a family.

Moreover, socialization agents such as teachers, peers, and the media reinforce gender stereotypes by providing messages about what it means to be masculine or feminine. Advertisements featuring rigid gender roles leading to discrimination against those who break norms that make people feel uncomfortable with their biological gender.

Men are expected to be aggressive, in charge, and assertive, while women are supposed to be passive, obedient and caring. These expectations are exemplified in schools, such as physical education where boys are expected to play rough sports such as rugby or wrestling, and girls are designated low intensity and less physical activities like dancing or hopscotch.

Furthermore, the media perpetuates gender roles by portraying women and men differently. Advertisements for beauty products usually target women, and those for beer target men.

The tone used in advertisements for women is warm and comforting, while that used for men tends to be more assertive and aggressive. The reinforcement of gender stereotypes through socialization agents can lead to societal gender inequality by limiting individuals’ freedom of choice and self-expression.

Social Norms and Use of Language

Every society has its social norms that define the appropriate behavior for individuals within the society, and the use of language is crucial in reinforcing these norms. Language is the primary means of communication used in daily interactions, and it is a tool used in socialization.

Attitudes toward linguistic and racial diversity are learned through secondary socialization. Grammar and syntax rules are an essential aspect of language, which are learned through secondary socialization.

In every society, there are standard and non-standard vocabulary and grammar. Standard forms of language are generally accepted and used across all social classes, and non-standard vocabulary and grammar are seen as wrong, vulgar, or informal.

Schools and media reinforce standard forms of language, which bear the idea that the standard is the only acceptable and correct way to speak. The reinforcement of standard forms of language perception of the other in society creates barriers to communication across different demographic groups, leading to marginalization or social inequality.

For example, mainstream media and education institutions for generations have perpetuated a focus on American or British accents, but at the same time, there are people who are discriminated against because of their accent, even within a country. This attitude goes further to people’s dialects, languages, and of the race to which they belong.

Linguistic and racial diversity in society is a vital part of self-expression and societal vibrancy. People should learn all aspects of the English language and consider the use of non-standard forms of language in appropriate social settings to communicate more effectively with larger groups of people.

Reinforcing non-standard forms of language lowers the language and cultural barriers between people and promotes inclusivity in society.

4) References

The article draws on various sources to provide a comprehensive overview of secondary socialization. Research by scholars, such as Arnett (2004) on secondary socialization during adolescence, reinforces the importance of media and peer groups in shaping behavior and attitudes.

Moreover, Piagets and scholars research in human development, and roles of socialization agents, such as schools and families, on the socialization of children resonate with this article. Theories on language and communication, including the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, provide insight into the role of language in shaping attitudes and behavior.

Similarly, theories, such as the social and conflict theories, help to understand the perpetuation of social norms and inequality in society. In conclusion, the study of secondary socialization remains essential in understanding how individuals learn specific behaviors and attitudes required to function effectively in different social settings.

Agents of socialization, such as media, schools, peers, and families, play significant roles in shaping individuals’ behavior, beliefs, and attitudes throughout different life stages. Understanding how social norms and language use contribute to self-expression, cultural exchange, and inclusivity of individuals from various social groups, is essential in creating a just and equitable society.

In conclusion, secondary socialization is a vital process that occurs throughout an individual’s lifetime, which plays a massive role in shaping an individual’s behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. This article explored the definition, importance, agents, and examples of secondary socialization, intending to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of this concept.

The significance of this understanding cannot be overstated, as it impacts how individuals interact with one another, promotes inclusivity in society and creates a just and equitable community based on mutual respect and appreciation.


1) What is secondary socialization?

Secondary socialization is the process through which individuals learn the values and norms of their particular society, especially during adolescence and adulthood when individuals face new situations and people. 2) How does secondary socialization occur?

Secondary socialization occurs through agents of socialization, such as media, schools, peer groups, and families, where individuals learn social norms and behavior patterns that are considered acceptable by society. 3) Why is secondary socialization significant?

Secondary socialization is significant since it promotes effective functioning within one’s society and helps individuals understand their place within their culture by learning social norms, ethics, and values. 4) What are the implications of gender roles in secondary socialization?

Gender roles are often perpetuated through secondary socialization, shaping behavior and attitudes based on one’s sex, leading to societal gender inequality and limiting individual freedom of choice and self-expression. 5) How does language use contribute to socialization?

Language use plays a significant role in socialization as it reinforces social norms and attitudes through different linguistic and emotive cues, reinforcing standard forms of language and limiting inclusivity in society. 6) What is the significance of socialization with culture, ethnicity and social class?

Socialization with culture, ethnicity and social class helps individuals understand the diversity and nuances of society, fostering social inclusion, appreciation and equity across different groups in society.

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