Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 87
  • Print publication year: 1990
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Indexicality and socialization



As long as society has been an object of interest and inquiry, scholars have been struggling to understand the process of socialization, roughly defined as a process in which a novice transitions toward becoming a member of a social group (Cicourel, 1973; Wentworth, 1980). In addition, societies the world over have promoted their own folk views about how novices become competent participants in the social group. Both scholarly and folk views of socialization strongly reflect and encode notions of human nature. These notions cover a wide range. For example, in 19th-century Europe, in consonance with the philosophy of Hobbes, human nature was thought to be aggressive and self-centered and socialization to be the process by which this asocial nature was transformed into a pro-social disposition. In contrast, functionalist theories of this century (Parsons, 1937, 1951; Merton, 1949) saw individuals as social by nature and the process of socialization not as a battle between the individual and society, but rather as a smooth and gradual conformity to and internalization of social values and expectations.

Currently the process of socialization is receiving considerable attention as a result of a renewed interchange between social and cognitive psychology and a renewed interest, in philosophy and the social sciences, in how individuals construct a sense of reality through ordinary day-to-day social practices (see Bakhtin, 1981; Bourdieu, 1977; Cole, 1985; Giddens, 1979, 1984; Griffin & Cole, 1984; Heath, 1983; Miller, 1982; Much & Shweder, 1978; Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986a, 1986b; Vygotsky, 1978; Wentworth, 1980; Wertsch, 1985).