7 junio, 2024

Primary and secondary socialization: what it is, differences and characteristics

What is primary and secondary socialization?

The primary and secondary socialization it is the contact of the individual with his environment, and each one depends on the stage in which it occurs.

Primary socialization is the period of the individual’s life in which he has the first contact with his environment through the family and school. During this stage, the affective part is very important, and they develop at a cognitive, psychological, social and personality level.

On the contrary, secondary socialization occurs in the last stage of adolescence, when the individual learns how to act in society. Having the basic knowledge acquired in primary socialization, at this stage the individual learns how to behave and what actions he should have in response.

The main institution where primary socialization is imparted is the family. In it they learn the basic concepts of coexistence or values ​​such as love, trust, respect and honesty.

The type of relationship that develops in those early years often determines the development of the individual’s social characteristics. The other institution that is consolidated throughout the world and from which a decisive influence is exerted on primary socialization is the school.

Another agent that can influence primary socialization is the formation of a group of friends in which a type of trust can be applied that may not be allowed within the home. The media also play a big role. A child or adolescent can be attracted and persuaded by the content they broadcast.

Secondary socialization is usually located in the transition period from adolescence to adulthood. The values ​​acquired from home undergo a transformation because the individual needs to relate to different areas, such as academics or work, from an autonomous point of view and without the protection of the family.

Stages in socialization: primary and secondary

primary socialization


As entities that generate the first contacts with the individual, we can identify mainly three institutions or groups as agents of primary socialization.


The first of these is the family, emphasizing the nuclear family. The family covers the nutritional and economic needs of the children.

In addition to that, the composition of the family group determines the development of the person in the future, because children often unconsciously imitate the actions of their parents.


In addition to the family, the other great agent is the school, where the infant is inserted from a very early age. Although there is the possibility of having siblings in the family group, at school the other is known and the existence of more people with whom there are similarities and differences is assimilated.

The knowledge inherently acquired in the teacher-student relationship, which begins to define the institutional hierarchy, cannot be set aside.


Lastly, the influence of the media on the primary development of the individual cannot be neglected.

Children are constantly exposed to television, radio or virtual content, but this has been further democratized with the spread of smart mobile phones, which have allowed children to choose the content with which they want to be entertained.


The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, in his theorizing on personality, separated the state of mind into three components: identity, ego, and superego.

The first thing that is constituted in the being is the identity, followed by the superego, which develops in childhood and adolescence and begins to form the consciousness of the being.

Between adolescence and adulthood, the ego develops, more related to secondary socialization, which allows the individual to make rational and mature decisions.

Another important psychologist in this area was Jean Piaget, who theorized about cognitive development and divided human growth in four parts, which goes from the knowledge and learning of the senses to the development of logical, abstract and symbolic thought.

secondary socialization

It takes place in the final stage of growth, that is, in the twilight of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. With secondary socialization, what has been learned at home is handled, but it is carried out outside the home.

The knowledge that is acquired is what the individual sees about how to act and behave in the different environments with which, over time, they must interact. School, especially high school, and in many cases university, are fields where secondary socialization is fully developed.


Constantly, various studies are carried out applying the various approaches related to primary or secondary socialization. Most of them aim to glimpse or demonstrate the influence that the first years of life and growth had on the subsequent development of adult life.

There are studies where the lives of a certain number of people are analyzed, to verify the influence of primary and secondary socialization in the choice of profession and working life.

There are other applications related to language learning, such as the one developed by Francis Mangubhai in 1977. EThese socialization classifications can be applied to a population group or to an entire society.

This is the case of the study carried out by Jaspers, Lubbers and Ultee (2009), which analyzes the impact of primary and secondary socialization on the vision of marriage between two people of the same sex, two years after it was approved in the Netherlands. .

The study focuses on the primary position, conceptualized from home, and the secondary position, which generally varied with the contact made in schools and by the influence of the media in which the different political positions were reflected.


Fisher, K. (1980). A theory of cognitive development: The control and construction of hierarchies of skills. Psychological Review.
The Freudian Theory of Personality. Retrieved from journalpsyche.org.

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