Category: Social Sciences

Socialization and Social Groups

One of the most sociologically and psychologically interesting, but controversial, experiments in the middle 20th century, was Harry and Margret Harlow’s rhesus monkey studies (they were a married couple).  Essentially, they raised monkeys in isolation (away from their mothers and only feed them through a window in the cage) to emotionally and cognitively deprive them.  They then exposed them to a variety of settings to see how they would react.  See the video – that’s actually Dr. Harlow talking to a journalist about the study in the 1950s.

I’d like you to think about the long standing nature vs. nurture debate.  What does this study tell us about that?  Obviously, we can’t raise children in isolation for research purposes, but if we did, what do you think would happen to them? Why do sociologists think socialization is so important to human development?