In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Socialization and Child Rearing

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Culture and Parenting
  • Parent Education

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section

Childhood Studies Socialization and Child Rearing
Leon Kuczynski
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 April 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0035


Socialization is the process by which children are prepared to become successful members of society. This requires the learning of skills, behavior patterns, ideas, and values needed for competent functioning in the society in which a child is growing up. More broadly, socialization is a process by which culture is transmitted or reproduced in each new generation. Parents hope to instill cultural continuity and competence in their children. Socialization also includes inadvertent outcomes, such as when harsh parental practices and poor home environments send children on negative trajectories of poor achievement and antisocial behavior. The traditional concept of socialization guiding research and parent education was unidirectional and deterministic. In this view, children are assumed to enter a social world that contains preexisting meanings, rules, and expectations, with the role of parents being to teach or transmit this knowledge to children. Despite competition with other sources of influence on children, parents—including all primary caregivers acting in the role of parents—are regarded as the most important agents of children’s socialization, and they lay the foundations for later changes as the child interacts with the wider world outside the family. Socialization is a lifelong process that encompasses the different stages of childhood and continues throughout adulthood. Socialization and child rearing have been topics of sustained interest for almost one hundred years, and the groundwork for contemporary ideas can be found in thousands of years of philosophical and religious discourses. The scientific literature encompasses a vast accumulation of research from many disciplines. Therefore, except for seminal studies, the approach in this bibliography will be to focus on compilations and reviews of the literature rather than individual studies. Research during much of the 20th century can be divided into three general issues. The first concerns theoretical critiques of implicit ideas of what the socialization process entails. These include critiques of the implicit conceptions of the outcomes of underlying processes of socialization. The second issue concerns research and theory linking parental characteristics and child-rearing behaviors to child outcomes. This is a complex literature reflecting not only differences in theory but also a growing knowledge of the complexity of the phenomenon of parenting for optimal socialization. Therefore, the bibliography will consider both major traditional approaches regarding parental dimensions, behaviors, and styles that continue to be influential, as well as new integrative approaches that have emerged more recently. Also in this bibliography are sections on developmental change in socialization processes, the effects of rearing a child on parents’ adult socialization, and a consideration of the cultural context of child rearing. Lastly, the bibliography will provide an overview of the parental education literature.

General Overviews

The first wave of literature was conducted from traditional or unidirectional perspectives, and this perspective was well represented in the first major handbook, Goslin 1969. The most comprehensive treatment of socialization covering recent perspectives on a wide range of topics is Grusec and Hastings 2007. Socialization is also well covered from several perspectives in child development handbooks such as Damon and Lerner 2006. A particular focus on emerging theories of parenting and children’s outcomes can be found in Grusec and Kuczynski 1997 and in Bornstein 2002, a five-volume handbook. New approaches that consider socialization as a dynamic bidirectional process are covered in Kuczynski 2003. Hoghughi and Long 2004 provides practical information for professionals working with parenting issues. Beginning students will find a start on socialization in the context of child rearing in a recent authoritative textbook, Holden 2010.

  • Bornstein, Marc H., ed. Handbook of Parenting. Vol. 1, Children and Parenting. 2d ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2002.

    NNNThis five-volume authoritative handbook covers extensive literature about parenting, including parenting children at different developmental stages and from common and special groups, the biology and socioecology of parenting, parenting in different circumstances, individual and contextual factors affecting parenting, the impact of parenting on children, developments and challenges on parenting research, and practical issues.

  • Damon, William, and Richard M. Lerner, eds. Handbook of Child Psychology. 6th ed. 4 vols. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.

    NNNImportant updates in socialization and parenting research can be found in different editions of this handbook. In this edition, theoretical approaches considering the parental role in child development are reviewed (Vol. 1), as well as research about the contextual influences implied (Vols. 2 and 3). Vol. 4 approaches applied development and addresses the ways in which research can inform those working with children, their families, and caretakers.

  • Goslin, David A., ed. Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1969.

    NNNThis is a classic resource for researchers interested in thinking at the cusp of old and modern approaches to socialization. Twenty-nine chapters describe developmental sociological, cultural biological, cognitive developmental, behavioral, and psychoanalytic theory and research just as problems in the field were emerging.

  • Grusec, Joan E., and Paul D. Hastings. Handbook of Socialization: Theory and Research. New York: Guilford, 2007.

    NNNThe most recent comprehensive handbook, bringing together leading authorities to synthesize current knowledge on socialization from earliest childhood through adolescence, adulthood, and into old age. Twenty-six chapters showcase cutting-edge work in genetics and biology, cultural psychology, and research on parenting strategies, bidirectionality, and emotion. The volume presents innovative theories and methods and identifies directions for future research. It is intended for advanced students, researchers, and professionals.

  • Grusec, Joan E., and Leon Kuczynski, eds. 1997. Parenting and Children’s Internalization of Values: A Handbook of Contemporary Theory. New York: Wiley.

    NNNThis is an important resource for modern theories on processes of socialization and internalization. The major parts concern history, developmental context, the nature of parental strategies and child outcomes, parenting cognitions, and social and biological contexts. Throughout the book, the contributing authors explain the approach to socialization taken in their work, and they review recent developments in theory and research that have influenced their conclusions.

  • Hoghughi, Masud, and Nicholas Long, eds. Handbook of Parenting: Theory and Research for Practice. London and Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2004.

    NNNThis handbook is primarily concerned with considering theory and research evidence as a basis for practice rather than research, including topics on parenting research, such as parental influences on child development and adjustment; the impact of parenting on children’s health, development, and behavior; determinants of parenting; and support for parents.

  • Holden, George W. Parenting: A Dynamic Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010.

    NNNThis textbook, intended for senior students, provides a parent-centered overview of the complexity of parenting with a focus on socialization. It follows a format common to other undergraduate texts, covering theory, parenting at different stages, and various contemporary issues, including diverse contexts and maltreatment. However, the work’s authoritative research-based approach makes it stand out from other introductory texts.

  • Kuczynski, Leon. Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2003.

    NNNThis is an important resource for research and theory on dynamic processes in parent–child interactions and relationships that may underlie outcome research. It provides overarching theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying bidirectional and relational processes in parent–child relations. Major sections of the book include conceptual frameworks; perspectives on children’s agency; perspectives on parental agency; ecological, cultural, and developmental contexts; and methodology.

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