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The acquisition of membership : socialization in grade one classrooms Mackay, Robert Wayne

Abstract

Despite popular and professional concerns with schools as institutions where socialization occurs, there are few empirical studies of classroom behaviour. The problem set for the study reported here was to observe classroom behaviour and to provide a theoretical description of what was observed in terms relevant to sociologists' interest in socialization. The thesis is thus a description of "normal form" behaviour in the classroom, with an analytic interest in how that relates to a useful conception of socialization. Socialization is first discussed with respect to some aspects of common culture, taken for granted by adults, but "taught" explicitly in first grade. Following that, the study reports upon the ways in which children acquire membership in the class, rule-learning associated with such membership, and the import of membership acquisition for the goal of socialization as conceived here, i.e. the production of social actors competent to handle "normal environments". It is argued that the classroom is one such environment encountered by children in early life, and that the work of the school as a "socializing agent" cannot be appreciated without some understanding of these matters.

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