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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

someone kindly help me.. explain 15reasons why business people should study sociology
KURIA Reply
I need the answer
Tsegaye
because business directly concern with people life and so related with sociology
Syed
Sociology is study of society, from economy to symbols it's covers everything Even Goffman's "presentation of self ' is a concept that needs introspection . You don't dive in psyche of an individual but "we" as whole. To understand 'collective consciousness'
supriya
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supriya
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Yussuf Reply
A broad knowledge about society
Mohamed
that's what my heart desire
Balasale
limit of anxiety disorder ?
AMAZING Reply
hi
Pintu
limit of anxiety disorder is a kind of madness that is presented in almost all the human beings...
Pintu
who is the founder of sociology
Ali Reply
Auguste Comte
Yuki
Socialogical prospective_imagination.
Zeina Reply
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Renee
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Rabecca Reply
is study os social interaction and the society
gift
Hi
Renee
Hi
shewayriga
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Renee
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ahindra
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Tariq
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Adnan
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Athar
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Salman
hlo
Bilal
sociology is the study of scientific study of society
Rabia
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Saeed
modern sociology father?
Sameer
What are the main element of the Strain Theory?
Renee Reply
Examine four factors that undermines the home's ability to socialize the child
Francis Reply
what is a unit of analysis
Gcobani Reply
A unit of analysis could be considered as the subject that you are focusing in a social study. That unit could be also many entities.
Pascal
what role does globalization play in modern slavery?
Kay Reply
Globalization play a great role in modern slavery. Why? because, globalization contributes people as rich to be more powerful and go to new areas in order to put people of these different a horizons to fall in a great slavery.
Pascal
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Pascal
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Brandina Reply
its emirical, systematic
gift
can someone please help me? What is social statistics?
Moses Reply
As I know, I could describe social statistics as a science who use statistics. That science make a study by using quantitative and qualitative numbers. And also make interpretation of these quantitative and qualitative numbers in order to solve a problem and understand all about this.
Pascal
Difference and realtionship between sociology and economivs
Temjensangla Reply
Conclusion for difference and realtionship between sociology and economics
Temjensangla
What is economics
Temjensangla
In conclusion, I could said that sociology it's a study of man and his habits, behaviours and interactions between humans and the environment where he lives.
Pascal
sociology could embrace many domains of the human culture.
Pascal
In a second time, economics could be define as a study economics structures in order create wealth.
Pascal
Nowadays, sociology and economics are completely integrated and linked. Why? Because, sociology try to study economics structures in order to help firms... to develop and conquer markets by understanding attitudes, behaviours of the costumers.
Pascal
In regard on what I had said before. Sociology makes a study of economics and economics takes also advantages of sociology as a tool. economics depends more on sociology even if there are complementary.
Pascal
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david
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Mohamed
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Talha Reply
Explain how man harnessed of nature for his own use
Cali
How? I think that man realized that there is natural elements that he could dominate and that he could not. A this moment, man start a reflexion in order to take a full profit of nature by a meticulous study of these different elements. (1)
Pascal
(2) And now we could see that after this meticulous study of the nature man had also observe nature. Man harnessed of nature for example by creating air planes, houses, cars...
Pascal
As I was read, sociology comes from philosophy.
Pascal
sociological reference and examples of each section
Alex Reply
Discuss the following isolated case Anna Case,Isabelle case,Genie case
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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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