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Social Legislation and Social Change

Laws become legislation when they are made and put into force by law making body or authority. There
are two views regarding the functions of the laws:-

1. One view opines that law is the formal social control agency. Its aim is to design legal sanctions to
minimize deviance and maintain social solidarity and social order
2. Second view stresses on the dynamic role of the law. It insists that law must bring about social
change by influencing peolple‟s behaviour, beliefs and values.
A careful analysis of the second opinion reveals two things:-
1. Through legislations the state and society try to bring the legal norms in line with the existing
social norms.
2. They are also used to improve social norms on the basis of new legal norms.
A socila legislation can be an effective mean of social change only when the existing social norm
is given a legal sanction. An unaided social legislation can hardly bring about social change, but with
the support of the public opinion it can initiate a change in social norm thus a change in the social

Some examples of social legislations made in India:-

1. Hindu Marriage Act 1955

2. Hindu Succession Act 1956
3. Hindu Adoption and Succession Act 1956

These legislation were a success in bringing about the social change because they were backed the
public opinion and current social norms and values. Whenever the social norms are ahead of the legal
codes, it becomes necessary to bring the legal code into conformity with the prevalent social values.
Those social legislations which are far ahead of the sovcial norms and values and those which lack the
popular support and public opinion are bound to be a failure. For example

1. Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (Later substitued by the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1976)
2. Law relating to Prohibition
3. Hyderabad Beggary Act 1940
4. Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

These laws produced the scenario described by Festinger as „forced compliance‟. As long as the
behaviour involves forced compliance, there is no internalisation of new norms hence there will be
disobedience. Forced compliance only deepens the discreoancy between the law and the social
Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, politicians and
educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies. It may provide the
individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society; a society itself is
formed through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and
languages. Socialization is thus „the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained‟. It refers
to a process whereby an individual becomes the functioning member of the society. It is a continous

Socialization, however, is not a normative term: it describes a process which may or may not lead to
desirable, or 'moral', outcomes. Individual views on certain issues, such as race or economics, may be
socialized (and to that extent normalized) within a society. Many socio-political theories postulate that
socialization provides only a partial explanation for human beliefs and behaviours; that agents are not
'blank slates' predetermined by their environment. Scientific research provides strong evidence that people
are shaped by both social influences and their hard-wired biological makeup. Genetic studies have shown
that a person's environment interacts with their genotype to influence behavioural outcomes. Thus, we
conclude that there is a scope of individuality in the process of socialisation.

1. “Socialisation is a process by which the individuals learn to conform to the normns of the social
group.”- W.F. Ogburn
2. Socialisation as the process of “transmission of culture, the process whereby men learn the rules
and practices of social groups. ”- Peter Worsley

Primary socialization

Primary socialization occurs when a child learns the attitudes, values and actions appropriate to
individuals as members of a particular culture. For example if a child saw his/her mother expressing a
discriminatory opinion about a minority group, then that child may think this behavior is acceptable and
could continue to have this opinion about minority groups.

Secondary socialization

Secondary socialization refers to the process of learning what is appropriate behavior as a member of a
smaller group within the larger society. It is usually associated with teenagers and adults, and involves
smaller changes than those occurring in primary socialization. eg. entering a new profession, relocating to
a new environment or society.
Developmental socialization

Developmental socialization is the process of learning behavior in a social institution or developing your
social skills.

Anticipatory socialization

Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person "rehearses" for future
positions, occupations, and social relationships.


Resocialization refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns and reflexes accepting new
ones as part of a transition in one's life. This occurs throughout the human life cycle (Schaefer & Lamm,
1992: 113). Resocialization can be an intense experience, with the individual experiencing a sharp break
with their past, and needing to learn and be exposed to radically different norms and values. An example
might be the experience of a young man or woman leaving home to join the military, or a religious
convert internalizing the beliefs and rituals of a new faith. An extreme example would be the process by
which a transsexual learns to function socially in a dramatically altered gender role.

Organizational socialization

Organizational socialization is the process whereby an employee learning the knowledge and skills
necessary to assume his or her organizational role. As newcomers become socialized, they learn about the
organization and its history, values, jargon, culture, and procedures. They also learn about their work
group, the specific people they work with on a daily basis, their own role in the organization, the skills
needed to do their job, and both formal procedures and informal norms. Socialization functions as a
control system in that newcomers learn to internalize and obey organizational values and practices.

Agencies of Socialisation
The process of socialization is not only operative in the childhood but throughout the life. From the
societal point of view, the child is valued more for „what will he be‟ than „what he is‟. The socialization
of a person has been given an institutional framework and controlled through various institutional
channels. Following are the various agencies of socialization.

1. Family
2. Friends and peer group
3. School
4. Community
5. Castes and class
6. Religion