Cycle of Socialization

To get started, please take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions

Who did you admire and see as heroes and heroines in TV, movies, or books when you were growing up?

How did you define physical beauty when you were a teenager?

What did the adults at home tell you about yourself and what did the adults at school tell you about yourself?

What were you told about how success was achieved?

Why did we ask you these questions?

How we see the world today is based on a lifelong process of learning the expected norms and customs of a group or society through social interaction.

Some examples include the things adults told you as child or modeled for you. What you saw on TV and in the movies. Who you saw in text books. What your friends told you.

This is called Socialization.

How we become socialized is a lifelong process...or cycle...with each part reinforcing the others. Watch this video to understand the different levels in Harro's Cycle of Socialization.

Take a few minutes to look at all the parts of the chart below.

You can see that the cycle is:

  • pervasive (coming from all sources)
  • consistent (patterned and predictable)
  • circular (self-supporting)
  • self-perpetuating (intra-dependent)
  • often invisible (unconscious and unnamed)

Now that you understand the basics of the cycle, let's look at an example to bring it to life.

Marya Hay

Marya Hay is an instructional specialist in the Equity Initiatives Unit. She is a MCPS graduate and daughter of immigrants. Listen below to hear how Marya's experiences and environments shaped her socialization as a young person into adulthood.

Click on the video to hear Marya's story and her personal Cycle of Socialization.

What's Your Story?

We are all in the cycle of socialization. The experiences and individuals we encounter shape what we know and believe.

Respond to the questions below and capture your story of socialization.

The Beginning

What history impacted your family and dynamics before you were born?

What beliefs were important to your family before you were born?

First Socialization

What norms were established about aspects of your identity?

What actions and behaviors were rewarded and or had consequences?

Institutional and Cultural Socialization

Were there institutions outside of school that helped shape who you are?

What did you learn about others' perceptions about the groups you identify with?

What were the images you saw on TV, movie, books and media? Were the groups you identified with portrayed positively, negatively or missing?


How did the conscious and unconscious messages enforce beliefs about yourself and the groups you identify with?

Was there a conflict between what you knew to be the truth and others perception?


How did you feel about yourself and the groups you identify with through these messages?


Have you changed direction or continued that cycle?

Final reflection

What is the importance of knowing this about yourself?

Why is it important as an educator to understand that our beliefs are not always conscious?

As you go about your day, think about how where you are in the cycle.

We would like to hear from you. Capture and share your cycle of socialization with us as a story, video or through images by email.


Created with images by Emily Morter - "Where is the love sung by The Black Eye Peas recreated in a tunnel underpass." • averie woodard - "untitled image" • Amanda Jones - "untitled image" • Jordan Whitfield - "Instagram: @Jord.in" • Francisco Andreotti - "untitled image" • Florian Klauer - "vintage typewriter" • Alex Holyoake - "untitled image" • Sebastián León Prado - "friends" • Trust "Tru" Katsande - "Family Love" • Nadine Shaabana - "untitled image" • Yeshi Kangrang - "reflect through" • Kyle Glenn - "Love Trumps Hate"