Internalization (sociology)

In sociology and other social sciences, internalization (or internalisation) means an individual's acceptance of a set of norms and values (established by others) through socialisation.

Discussion edit

John Finley Scott[1] described internalization as a metaphor in which something (i.e. an idea, concept, action) moves from outside the mind or personality to a place inside of it.[2] The structure and the happenings of society shapes one's inner self and it can also be reversed.

The process of internalization starts with learning what the norms are, and then the individual goes through a process of understanding why they are of value or why they make sense, until finally they accept the norm as their own viewpoint.[2] Internalised norms are said to be part of an individual's personality and may be exhibited by one's moral actions. However, there can also be a distinction between internal commitment to a norm and what one exhibits externally. George Mead illustrates, through the constructs of mind and self, the manner in which an individual's internalizations are affected by external norms.[3]

One thing that may affect what an individual internalises are role models. Role models often speed up the process of socialisation and encourage internalization: if someone an individual respects is seen to endorse a particular set of norms, the individual is more likely to be prepared to accept, and so internalise, those norms. This is called the process of identification. Internalization helps one define who they are and create their own identity and values within a society that has already created a norm set of values and practices for them.

To internalise is defined by the Oxford American Dictionary as to "make (attitudes or behavior) part of one's nature by learning or unconscious assimilation: people learn gender stereotypes and internalize them."[4] Through internalization individuals accept a set of norms and values that are established by other individuals, groups, or society as a whole.

In psychology, internalization is the outcome of a conscious mind reasoning about a specific subject; the subject is internalized, and the consideration of the subject is internal. Internalization of ideals might take place following religious conversion, or in the process of, more generally, moral conversion.[5] Internalization is directly associated with learning within an organism (or business) and recalling what has been learned.

In psychology and sociology, internalization involves the integration of attitudes, values, standards and the opinions of others into one's own identity or sense of self. In psychoanalytic theory, internalization is a process involving the formation of the super ego.[6] Many theorists believe that the internalized values of behavior implemented during early socialization are key factors in predicting a child's future moral character. The self-determination theory[7] proposes a motivational continuum from the extrinsic to intrinsic motivation and autonomous self-regulation. Some research suggests a child's moral self starts to develop around age three.[8] These early years of socialization may be the underpinnings of moral development in later childhood. Proponents of this theory suggest that children whose view of self is "good and moral" tend to have a developmental trajectory toward pro-social behavior and few signs of anti-social behavior.

In one child developmental study,[9] researchers examined two key dimensions of early conscience – internalization of rules of conduct and empathic affects to others – as factors that may predict future social, adaptive and competent behavior. Data was collected from a longitudinal study of children, from two parent families, at age 25, 38, 52, 67 and 80 months. Children's internalization of each parent's rules and empathy toward each parent's simulated distress were observed at 25, 38 and 52 months. Parents and teachers rated their adaptive, competent, pro-social behavior and anti-social behavior at 80 months. The researchers found that first, both the history of the child's early internalization of parental rules and the history of their empathy predicted the children's competent and adaptive functioning at 80 months, as rated by parents and teachers. Second, children with stronger histories of internalization of parental rules from 25 to 52 months perceived themselves as more moral at 67 months. Third, the children that showed stronger internalization from 25 to 52 months came to see themselves as more moral and "good". These self-perceptions, in turn, predicted the way parents and teachers would rate their competent and adaptive functioning at 80 months.

Lev Vygotsky, a pioneer of psychological studies, introduced the idea of internalization in his extensive studies of child development research. Vygotsky provides an alternate definition for internalization, the internal reconstruction of an external operation. He explains three stages of internalization:[10]

  1. An operation that initially represents an external activity is reconstructed and begins to occur internally.
  2. An interpersonal process is transformed into an intrapersonal one.
  3. The transformation of an interpersonal process into an intrapersonal one is the result of a long series of developmental events.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "John Finley Scott '55". Reed Magazine. Reed College. November 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2016. John taught at University of California, Davis, retiring in 1994 as emeritus professor of sociology.
  2. ^ a b Scott, John (1971). Internalization of Norms: A sociological Theory of Moral Commitment. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall. ISBN 9780134723242.
  3. ^ Mead, George (1934). Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  4. ^ "Oxford Dictionary". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  5. ^ Doran, Robert M. (2011), "Moral Conversion from and to" (PDF), What Does Bernard Lonergan Mean by 'Conversion'?, University of Toronto Press, p. 20, archived from the original (PDF file, direct download 61.8 KB) on January 21, 2022, retrieved October 7, 2012
  6. ^ Corsini, R. (1999). The Dictionary of Psychology, USA: Taylor & Francis.
  7. ^ Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behaviour. New York, N.Y: Plenum Press.
  8. ^ Emde, R. N., Biringen, Z., Clyman, R. B. & Oppenheim, D. (1991). The Moral Self of Infancy: Affective Core and Procedural Knowledge. Developmental Review, 11, 251-270.
  9. ^ Kochanska, G., Koenig, J., Barry, R., Kim, S. & Yoon, J. (2010). Children's Conscience During Toddler and Preschool Years, Moral Self, and a Competent, Adaptive Developmental Trajectory. Developmental Psychology. Vol. 46, No. 5, 1320-1332.
  10. ^ Vygotsky, Lev (1978). Mind in Society. President and Fellows of Harvard College. pp. 55–56.