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For example, in 1968, twin girls born to a mentally ill mother were put up for adoption, separated from each other, and raised in different households. The adoptive parents, and certainly the babies, did not realize the girls were one of five pairs of twins who were made subjects of a scientific study (Flam 2007).

In 2003, the two women, then age thirty-five, were reunited. Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein sat together in awe, feeling like they were looking into a mirror. Not only did they look alike but they also behaved alike, using the same hand gestures and facial expressions (Spratling 2007). Studies like these point to the genetic roots of our temperament and behavior.

Though genetics and hormones play an important role in human behavior, sociology’s larger concern is the effect society has on human behavior, the “nurture” side of the nature versus nurture debate. What race were the twins? From what social class were their parents? What about gender? Religion? All these factors affected the lives of the twins as much as their genetic makeup and are critical to consider as we look at life through the sociological lens.

The life of chris langan, the smartest man you’ve never heard of

Bouncer. Firefighter. Factory worker. Cowboy. Chris Langan spent the majority of his adult life just getting by with jobs like these. He had no college degree, few resources, and a past filled with much disappointment. Chris Langan also had an IQ of over 195, nearly 100 points higher than the average person (Brabham 2001). So why didn’t Chris become a neurosurgeon, professor, or aeronautical engineer? According to Macolm Gladwell (2008) in his book Outliers: The Story of Success , Chris didn’t possess the set of social skills necessary to succeed on such a high level—skills that aren’t innate but learned.

Gladwell looked to a recent study conducted by sociologist Annette Lareau in which she closely shadowed 12 families from various economic backgrounds and examined their parenting techniques. Parents from lower income families followed a strategy of “accomplishment of natural growth,” which is to say they let their children develop on their own with a large amount of independence; parents from higher-income families, however, “actively fostered and accessed a child’s talents, opinions, and skills” (Gladwell 2008). These parents were more likely to engage in analytical conversation, encourage active questioning of the establishment, and foster development of negotiation skills. The parents were also able to introduce their children to a wide range of activities, from sports to music to accelerated academic programs. When one middle-class child was denied entry to a gifted and talented program, the mother petitioned the school and arranged additional testing until her daughter was admitted. Lower-income parents, however, were more likely to unquestioningly obey authorities such as school boards. Their children were not being socialized to comfortably confront the system and speak up (Gladwell 2008).

What does this have to do with Chris Langan, deemed by some the smartest man in the world (Brabham 2001)? Chris was born in severe poverty, moving across the country with an abusive and alcoholic stepfather. His genius went largely unnoticed. After accepting a full scholarship to Reed College, he lost his funding after his mother failed to fill out necessary paperwork. Unable to successfully make his case to the administration, Chris, who had received straight A’s the previous semester, was given F’s on his transcript and forced to drop out. After he enrolled in Montana State, an administrator’s refusal to rearrange his class schedule left him unable to find the means necessary to travel the 16 miles to attend classes. What Chris had in brilliance, he lacked in practical intelligence, or what psychologist Robert Sternberg defines as “knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect” (Sternberg et al. 2000). Such knowledge was never part of his socialization.

Chris gave up on school and began working an array of blue-collar jobs, pursuing his intellectual interests on the side. Though he’s recently garnered attention for his “Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe,” he remains weary of and resistant to the educational system.

As Gladwell concluded, “He’d had to make his way alone, and no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone” (2008).

A portrait of twins wearing traditional hunting gear is shown.
Identical twins may look alike, but their differences can give us clues to the effects of socialization. (Photo courtesy of D. Flam/flickr)

Sociologists all recognize the importance of socialization for healthy individual and societal development. But how do scholars working in the three major theoretical paradigms approach this topic? Structural functionalists would say that socialization is essential to society, both because it trains members to operate successfully within it and because it perpetuates culture by transmitting it to new generations. Without socialization, a society’s culture would perish as members died off. A conflict theorist might argue that socialization reproduces inequality from generation to generation by conveying different expectations and norms to those with different social characteristics. For example, individuals are socialized differently by gender, social class, and race. As in Chris Langan's case, this creates different (unequal) opportunities. An interactionist studying socialization is concerned with face-to-face exchanges and symbolic communication. For example, dressing baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink is one small way we convey messages about differences in gender roles.

Summary

Socialization is important because it helps uphold societies and cultures; it is also a key part of individual development. Research demonstrates that who we are is affected by both nature (our genetic and hormonal makeup) and nurture (the social environment in which we are raised). Sociology is most concerned with the way that society’s influence affects our behavior patterns, made clear by the way behavior varies across class and gender.

Short answer

Why are twin studies an important way to learn about the relative effects of genetics and socialization on children? What questions about human development do you believe twin studies are best for answering? For what types of questions would twin studies not be as helpful?

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Why do you think that people like Chris Langan continue to have difficulty even after they are helped through societal systems? What is it they’ve missed that prevents them from functioning successfully in the social world?

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Further research

Learn more about five other sets of twins who grew up apart and discovered each other later in life at (External Link)

References

Brabham, Denis. 2001. “The Smart Guy.” Newsday , August 21. Retrieved January 31, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Flam, Faye. 2007. “Separated Twins Shed Light on Identity Issues.” The Philadelphia Inquirer , December 9. Retrieved January 31, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Gladwell, Malcolm. 2008. “The Trouble With Geniuses, Part 2.” Outliers: The Story of Success . New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Spratling, Cassandra. 2007. “Nature and Nurture.” Detroit Free Press . November 25. Retrieved January 31, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Sternberg, R.J., G.B. Forsythe, J. Hedlund, J. Horvath, S. Snook, W.M. Williams, R.K. Wagner, and E.L. Grigorenko. 2000. Practical Intelligence in Everyday Life . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Questions & Answers

Can you explain "the looking-Glass self" by Charles Horton Cooley AND "the generalized other" by George Hebert Mead ?
Tommy Reply
Cooley´s concept of the looking glass self, states that a person's self grows out of a person´s social interactions with others. Mead's 'generalized other' becomes relevant when a person begins to evaluate himself from the point of view from the wider society.
Kimmy
whom we can call a social scientist or sociologist? A sociology graduate or a social work graduate
Arvind Reply
social scientist is not all about our degrees
musharaf
that is what you say, but I believe you
Powell
I didn't understood your reply.
Arvind
whose?
musharaf
actually what I believe, is that sociology deals with the creating theories methodologies and analysis. whereas social work deals with actual ground level implementation of the these theories, methodologies to create impact at actual ground level
Arvind
powel's
Arvind
we cant consider sociology graduate as social scientist. master of sociology or scholar is comsidered aa.....
musharaf
what is social mobility and its types
Izaz
@Izaz social mobility is the movement of individuals from one social class to another. The types are upward,horizontal, intergenerational, intragenerational,structural mobility.
Kimmy
Can one be a "professional " Sociologist without a degree Certificate?
Powell Reply
Yes please
Oduro
yeah
musharaf
Okay I am a dropout
Powell
in my finals
Powell
so if I continue here do I have a chance out there? I love the simplicity with which topics are explained and am greatful for finding my self here
Powell
what Alex Inkeles said in his book ,"what is sociology" ?
Madiha Reply
The great contemplators right from Comte to Behredeit had been the followers of this approach. As Alex inkles said; Sociology is the study of systems of social action & of their inter-relations. As Young, Raymond says, it is the scientific study of social aspects of human life.
Wasem
Topics: The subject matter of sociology -- The sociological perspective -- Models of society in sociological analysis -- Conceptions of man in sociological analysis -- Basic elements of social life -- Fundamental social processes -- Models of inquiry in sociology -- Sociology as a profession
PUBG
Which topic u want to discuss :)
PUBG
Dear give a brief introduction about Sociology as a profession
Wasem
subject matter of sociology
Madiha
He is busy in play PUBG. Carry on
Wasem
He is busy in playing PUBG. Carry on
Wasem
What do u mean wasem
PUBG
Something is wrong with this. I replied so many times but there is not a single reply from me :/
PUBG
What is contemporary family
DAMBA
By what? #Pubg
Wasem
by sociology of the family
DAMBA
Dear PUBG, if you're really meant to serve here, then do your duty as soon as possible
Wasem
There is a problem. Its showing me access denied. So sorry
PUBG
Something inappropriate. I don't know why. I am trying to reply and same dialogue box is appearing again and again
PUBG
Madiha sociology has its own subject matter. Some critics were that sociology has been parcelled out from other social sciences but now sociology is called mother of all social sciences.
PUBG
Woah published. I typed 10 times
PUBG
I tried to explain in simple n short way. If u want detailed. Right now i am not able to publish a full text and i dont want my account banned. I'll explain tomorrow.
PUBG
Feeling sorry for u dear Pubg.Your student has lefted & now u chatter all alone
Wasem
Aneesa Ma'm will make us understand. Dun't wry dear Madiha
Wasem
Where is she teaching. I mean ur mam
PUBG
PUBG sr ty to do dicuss on relevent matter dont wry disturbing elements are exit everywhere
musharaf
thnkx pubg sir for always sharing ur ideas there
Madiha
Yep
PUBG
Welcome
PUBG
You trash heap wht irrelevant u saw in my texts i'm talking vid my batchmate.if you're getting disturbed u can sod off #Musharaf
Wasem
Wht tempts u to knw where my teacher teaches us #PUBG
Wasem
waseem solute to ur kindness nd ur way of talking
musharaf
U r not here for learning or teaching... U r trying to showoff.. And we don't care about it.. I quit this chat
PUBG
yeah offcourse
musharaf
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musharaf
pubg sr
musharaf
Yeah sure
PUBG
thank uh sir
musharaf
How Louis wirth called Urbanism as an ideal type when it prevails in real form?
Wasem Reply
sir, what is sociology modern trends?
Sandeep Reply
what is the difference between magic and totka
Ravi Reply
Do u got the answer
PUBG
in what ways will American families likely change in structure and process in the future?
Eboni Reply
One way is that the traditional roles of the male being the sole breadwinner will most likely change where it is not uncommon for women to be breadwinners as well
Kimmy
how does society cause desaeas
Kahange Reply
what is deviant behavior and why is relative.
Haruna
How Louis wirth called urbanisation as an ideal type when it prevails in reality?
Wasem
samajsatra ki paribhasha de
Ali Reply
wt
Aijaz
समाजशास्त्र मानव समाज का अध्ययन है। यह सामाजिक विज्ञान की एक शाखा है, जो मानवीय सामाजिक संरचना और गतिविधियों से संबंधित जानकारी को परिष्कृत करने और उनका विकास करने के लिए, अनुभवजन्य विवेचनऔर विवेचनात्मक विश्लेषण की विभिन्न पद्धतियों का उपयोग करता है।
Soumya
समाज के विभिन्न पहलुओं के क्रमबद्ध अध्ययन को समाजशास्त्र कहते हैं |
Soumya
समाजशास्त्र मानव समाज का अध्ययन है। यह सामाजिक विज्ञान की एक शाखा है, जो मानवीय सामाजिक संरचना और गतिविधियों से संबंधित जानकारी को परिष्कृत करने और उनका विकास करने के लिए, अनुभवजन्य विवेचनऔर विवेचनात्मक विश्लेषण की विभिन्न पद्धतियों का उपयोग करता है।
Soumya
what is sociology?
Dulom
the study of human behaviour and its environment
Jimmy
The study of human behaviour beliefs etc.study of man's life from woom to tom
Zahid
what's criminal investigation?
Haruna
it is simple be defines as the process of collecting information or evidence about a particular issues eg.place, when, interrogation and many more
Oduro
what is the nature of social problem?
rashid
relative deprivation
Batch Reply
Why is Max Weber different from other founding fathers of sociology
Bertha Reply
He's a sociologist that looks at society at macro level & is a conflict theorist that looks at the inequalities within society. For example functionalists (Emile Durkheim) focuses on value consensus. On the other hand Marxists view the inequalities.
Kimmy
what problems sociologist faced in their profession
Mishi Reply
The sociologists professional ethics defines the rules of the sociologists professional activities. Observing moral standards is an expression of care not only for the sociologists common good, but also for the society common good as the society is examined by the sociologists and the soci
Aijaz
It varries from country to country. As it is comparatively a new profession, I think job placement itself is one among the key concern for the new Sociologists. Main reason is that what they do is usually considered to be something that is not as good as what other professionals do.
Naughty
thanks
Mishi
who is Karl Marx
Cyborg Reply
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary. Born in Trier, Germany, to a Jewish middle-class family, Marx studied law and philosophy at university.
Aijaz
okay
Haruna
Charz fond of watching Tv series she spends most of her time after school hours watching TV consequently she had very poor performance in her academic year exams. using the behavioral theories describe charz problem and suggest ways to solve it.
Chax Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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