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Finally, children develop, understand, and learn the idea of the generalized other    , the common behavioral expectations of general society. By this stage of development, an individual is able to imagine how he or she is viewed by one or many others—and thus, from a sociological perspective, to have a “self” (Mead 1934; Mead 1964).

Kohlberg’s theory of moral development

Moral development is an important part of the socialization process. The term refers to the way people learn what society considered to be “good” and “bad,” which is important for a smoothly functioning society. Moral development prevents people from acting on unchecked urges, instead considering what is right for society and good for others. Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987) was interested in how people learn to decide what is right and what is wrong. To understand this topic, he developed a theory of moral development that includes three levels: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional.

In the preconventional stage, young children, who lack a higher level of cognitive ability, experience the world around them only through their senses. It isn’t until the teen years that the conventional theory develops, when youngsters become increasingly aware of others’ feelings and take those into consideration when determining what’s “good” and “bad.” The final stage, called postconventional, is when people begin to think of morality in abstract terms, such as Americans believing that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. At this stage, people also recognize that legality and morality do not always match up evenly (Kohlberg 1981). When hundreds of thousands of Egyptians turned out in 2011 to protest government corruption, they were using postconventional morality. They understood that although their government was legal, it was not morally correct.

Gilligan’s theory of moral development and gender

Another sociologist, Carol Gilligan (1936–), recognized that Kohlberg’s theory might show gender bias since his research was only conducted on male subjects. Would females study subjects have responded differently? Would a female social scientist notice different patterns when analyzing the research? To answer the first question, she set out to study differences between how boys and girls developed morality. Gilligan’s research demonstrated that boys and girls do, in fact, have different understandings of morality. Boys tend to have a justice perspective, by placing emphasis on rules and laws. Girls, on the other hand, have a care and responsibility perspective; they consider people’s reasons behind behavior that seems morally wrong.

Gilligan also recognized that Kohlberg’s theory rested on the assumption that the justice perspective was the right, or better, perspective. Gilligan, in contrast, theorized that neither perspective was “better”: the two norms of justice served different purposes. Ultimately, she explained that boys are socialized for a work environment where rules make operations run smoothly, while girls are socialized for a home environment where flexibility allows for harmony in caretaking and nurturing (Gilligan 1982; Gilligan 1990).

What a pretty little lady!

“What a cute dress!” “I like the ribbons in your hair.” “Wow, you look so pretty today.”

According to Lisa Bloom, author of Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World , most of us use pleasantries like these when we first meet little girls. “So what?” you might ask.

Bloom asserts that we are too focused on the appearance of young girls, and as a result, our society is socializing them to believe that how they look is of vital importance. And Bloom may be on to something. How often do you tell a little boy how attractive his outfit is, how nice looking his shoes are, or how handsome he looks today? To support her assertions, Bloom cites, as one example, that about 50 percent of girls ages three to six worry about being fat (Bloom 2011). We’re talking about kindergarteners who are concerned about their body image. Sociologists are acutely interested in of this type of gender socialization, by which societal expectations of how boys and girls should be —how they should behave, what toys and colors they should like, and how important their attire is—are reinforced.

One solution to this type of gender socialization is being experimented with at the Egalia preschool in Sweden, where children develop in a genderless environment. All the children at Egalia are referred to with neutral terms like “friend” instead of “he” or “she.” Play areas and toys are consciously set up to eliminate any reinforcement of gender expectations (Haney 2011). Egalia strives to eliminate all societal gender norms from these children’s preschool world.

Extreme? Perhaps. So what is the middle ground? Bloom suggests that we start with simple steps: when introduced to a young girl, ask about her favorite book or what she likes. In short, engage with her mind … not her outward appearance (Bloom 2011).

Summary

Psychological theories of self-development have been broadened by sociologists who explicitly study the role of society and social interaction in self-development. Charles Cooley and George Mead both contributed significantly to the sociological understanding of the development of self. Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan developed their ideas further and researched how our sense of morality develops. Gilligan added the dimension of gender differences to Kohlberg’s theory.

Short answer

Think of a current issue or pattern that a sociologist might study. What types of questions would the sociologist ask, and what research methods might he employ? Now consider the questions and methods a psychologist might use to study the same issue. Comment on their different approaches.

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Explain why it’s important to conduct research using both male and female participants. What sociological topics might show gender differences? Provide some examples to illustrate your ideas.

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Further research

Lawrence Kohlberg was most famous for his research using moral dilemmas. He presented dilemmas to boys and asked them how they would judge the situations. Visit (External Link) to read about Kohlberg’s most famous moral dilemma, known as the Heinz dilemma.

References

Cooley, Charles Horton. 1902. “The Looking Glass Self.” Pp. 179–185 in Human Nature and Social Order . New York: Scribner’s.

Bloom, Lisa. 2011. “How to Talk to Little Girls.” Huffington Post , June 22. Retrieved January 12, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Erikson, Erik. 1982. The Lifecycle Completed: A Review . New York: Norton.

Durkheim, Émile. 2011 [1897]. Suicide . London: Routledge.

Freud, Sigmund. 2000 [1904]. Three Essays on Theories of Sexuality . New York: Basic Books.

Gilligan, Carol. 1982. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Gilligan, Carol. 1990. Making Connections: The Relational Worlds of Adolescent Girls at Emma Willard School . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Haney, Phil. 2011. “Genderless Preschool in Sweden.” Baby&Kids , June 28. Retrieved January 12, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Harlow, Harry F. 1971. Learning to Love . New York: Ballantine.

Harlow, Harry F., and Margaret Kuenne Harlow. 1962. “Social Deprivation in Monkeys.” Scientific American November:137–46.

Kohlberg, Lawrence. 1981. The Psychology of Moral Development: The Nature and Validity of Moral Stages . New York: Harper and Row.

Mead, George H. 1934. Mind, Self and Society , edited by C. W. Morris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mead, George H. 1964. On Social Psychology , edited by A. Strauss. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Piaget, Jean. 1954. The Construction of Reality in the Child . New York: Basic Books.

Questions & Answers

help me breakdown the theories
Liz Reply
please explain these theories of social change (Sociocultural evolution theory, cyclical theory, functionalist perspective theory and the Conflict theory)
Phiwa Reply
how to communicate with a group at clubhouse
Jeremy Reply
How do i answer this essay question : Analyze the assertion that crime and deviance are mere social construction
Memory Reply
crime and deviance are functional in society... keeping in mind not all deviance is criminal but all crime is deviance... case in point Rosa Parks and sitting on the bus... her deviant act was not deemed as a crime but it went against social norms and that deviant act brought about change
Andre
another example would be littering... think about when that became a statutory norm (law) in your country... before it was against the law it was a social norm not to litter, your garbage must be thrown in a bin and those who did otherwise were meet by ordinary social sanctions such as a frown...
Andre
littering as become a global problem and it was deemed necessary to make littering against the law so that the environment could not be polluted, and communities would be safer. drains would not be clogged up, rats and other pests won't find refuge, etc...
Andre
Thanks
Memory
who I understand types of worker,s
Raza
Crime and deviance are mere social construction in that society decides what a criminal behavior is and accord punishment according to the severity of the crime. Imagine! what is regarded as crime in country A may not be termed as a crime in country B.
Olu
sociological imagination
Jonathan Reply
whatdoyoumeanbysociology
Manav Reply
sociology is the study of human behaviour in society. And human beings actions, reaction, participation in societies.
Syed
How sociologists study human behavior
Mohamed
poverty is a result of economic factors discuss
Brian Reply
Guys what is Sociological imagination?
Omark Reply
Sociological imagination postulated by C. Wright Mills is the ability for an individual or institution to situate personal troubles within an informed social framework. Successive Sociology scholars after CWM have employed the world to mean the kind of insight offered by Sociology and its relevance
Marvis
In everyday life. In a different light, Sociological imagination could be described as the understanding tnat social outcomes are shaped by social contexts, interactions, action and actors
Marvis
perspective in sociology
ali Reply
Can you tell me what is perspective in sociology?
Alina
way of looking at different social realities and proposing definitions of them
Hanief
Sociological perspective is the basic insight of sociology that human behavior is shaped by the social interaction that takes place within those groups..
Omark
Sorry bro, that wasn't for you...
Omark
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Abdulrahman Reply
when a high school student gets teased by her basketball team for receiving an academic award,she is dealing with competing
ABENA Reply
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Ubaida Reply
please can someone explain more on french revolution
Ubaida
Sociology emerged because of negative aspects of French Revolution: an era of emerging intellectuals and reason........
Rafiq
explain sociology in relation to science
Glory
what is sociology of education?
Aliyu Reply
sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect the education and it's outcomes
Iqra
what is an apparent excluder?.
sani
kashmir
Iqra
m also from Kashmir and that does not change how iqra tried to define the sociology of education
Trending
How long you people have been studying sociology?
Trending
I have been preparing for UPSC and took sociology as optional... Despite the fact I was a chemistry student
Trending
I am not... I hve never been a KU student
Trending
no
Iqra
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Muxiru
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Iqra
download pdf
Muxiru
Any answer u need just write in google u will get the snswer
Major
Hi..Greetings...by the way will it be good to opt for Ku...or outside for Masters in Sociology
rameez
oll questions aur there related to sociology ...sociology is same in ku and other outside universities
Muxiru
i think it's same the thing is how much uh get the knowledge abt ua subject how much effort uh gv to learn things.... otherwise university ka kaam h degree dena thapa lgana 😁
Iqra
na ....but I feel unv. also matters like it's rank n tag during interviews...n also it...percentage various across boards n universities.n at the end of the day...it's percentage which determines much...not degrees or thabas only
rameez
n thank you for responding jazakallah Khair!
rameez
ku@top rank...joke of the year... though I hav learned frm here n thr it's abt it's distinguishing product
rameez
for any examination either for IAS India's top exam uh should have only 50% so dt uh could be eligible .... nothing matters if smth matters dt is hard work give ua best...
Iqra
Take Principles of soc. by C N Shanker Roa
Khushboo
iqra I feel KU is not good..but indeed the worthy colleagues are...will miss them badly n it sounds like killing inside
rameez
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Khushboo
read every topic in depth
Khushboo
hihii rameez aa uh talking abt colleagues dea itz lyf n it's dynamic... itz ok keep in contact vd them 😊
Iqra
ya...IQra...I mean colleagues which one gets there.... and um here...coz smtimes I gets the feeling like um in contact wd some of them here!
rameez
I am a psychology student but in this semester we also study sociology soo please all of you will help me
Arxoo
okay
Arxoo
Good morning Friends.
MUBARAK
plz b specific n precise in getting the desired info,,For God sake dont stretch...Meharbani hgi
Hanief
can anybody explain to me the concept of social facts by Durkheim
Zubair
what is functionalism in anthropology
Elijah Reply
hi
Salamatu
hi
Lisa
What is functionalism in anthropology? Answer: A theoretical orientation in anthropology, developed by Bronislaw Malinowski. Functionalism is similar to Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism, in that it is holistic and posits that all cultural "traits" are functionally interrelated and for
Lisa
In adelphic polyandry forms of marriage, the children belongs to whome?
Haami Reply
the mother know his father
Usama
but it's not mentioned in options....the options were.... maternal uncle paternal uncle youngest brother & eldest brother
Haami
I think....children belongs to eldest brother... but not conformed yet..!!
Haami
ist child to elder brother 2nd child to younger.....
Iqra
pls can someone help me with the contributions of the following founding Fathers of sociology. Karl max Aguste Comte Emile dukhelin harbart spencia pls
Elijah

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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