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"Social experiences and cultural socialization in a Pacific Island community exp laining how children as members of human societies

s acquire SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE and ACCEPTED BEHAVIOUR on New Hanover Island of Papua New Guinea By: Patrick Kaiku INTRODUCTION: Socialization and the processes associated with the transmission of indigenous k nowledge (IK) are intrinsic to a variety of social science discourses. Within t he discipline of anthropology for example, theories attempt to explain the role of lived experiences and socialization in so-called preliterate societies. Inte llectual and scholarly inquiries are more or less descriptive accounts of the so cialization institutions, traditions and rituals. The observations that mostly f oreign field researchers make in the so-called primitive or preliterate societie s are tinged with the obvious biases preconceived from their own socio-cultural lenses. Little comparative attempt is made to understand the dynamic situations and systems that have contributed to the continuity of the human species in thei r so-called preliterate or agrarian communities. It is little wonder that preliterate communities are often dismissed as negligib le in the overall frame of mankinds development. The obsessive preoccupation of established disciplines with the art of the descriptive hinders common understandi ng and human cultural exchanges for the enhancement of collective human communit ies. Some scholars even come into so-called preliterate societies with the preco nceptions that the enigmatic, peculiar or even abnormal natures of human diversity are there to be discovered. Publications dedicated to disseminating research find ings based on discoveries in preliterate societies rarely find their way into main stream policy thinking and rarely translate into practical interactive programs initiated by government bodies, international agencies and so forth to build com mon understanding in cross-cultural exchanges. This failed responsibility in sc holarly disciplines could well be the source of much of the misunderstanding tha t besets our world. For what is rigorously studied by predominantly Western-oriented scholarship, in habitants of agrarian societies undertook socialization processes within the bas ic units of society (especially the family and extended families) on a daily bas is. It was monotonously a way of life that was part and parcel of their obligati on to investing in a stable, prosperous and secure society. Hence, the regulatio n of society was fundamentally tied to or measured how effective socialization w as undertaken. The theme of this paper therefore focuses on the general aspect of socialization and admittedly, the societal view of the process. Firstly, the relationship bet ween the concept of culture and socialization will be defined and deliberated up on. The same section of the paper looks at two of many approaches that have been used by scholars to explain socialization as a phenomenon. Finally, a case stud y of my personal experience with my cultural context will be given. This will en able me to link culture a way of life, to the necessity of unconscious or consci ence process of socialization. Through my lived experience as a Pacific Islander , I believe that Pacific Island cultures have a lot to offer to people from all different race, religion and societies in various developmental stages. SOCIALIZATION AND CULTURE The terms socialization, culture and indigenous knowledge share a common purpose in almost all agrarian-based human society. For instance Harambolas defines soc ialization as the process by which individuals learn the culture of their society (1980: 4). By socialization, Harambolas infers that infants (individuals who hav

e not yet undergone socialization) are uncultured or asocial. Harambolas elaborates further the inseparable prerequisite of socialization to t he individuals existence in a culturally patterned society when he said that: To all intents and purposes a newborn human being is helpless. Not only is it ph ysically dependent on older members of the species but it also lacks the behavio r patterns necessary for living in society. It relies primarily on certain biolo gical drives such as hunger and the charity of its elders to satisfy those drive s. The infant has a lot to learn. In order to survive, it must learn to the skil ls, knowledge and accepted ways of behaving of society into which it is born. It must learn a way of life; in sociological terminology, it must learn the cultur e of its society (ibid, 2-3). Thus, without socialization, an individual would bear little resemblances to any human being defined as normal by the standards of his society. Moreover, social ization is essential for the fitting of new members into society and actually de termines their becoming human. Another scholar defines socialization as the applied to the process through which a child is made social (Ainsworth et al., 1979: 99). It refers to what must be don e so that a child learns rules, proscriptions, values, norms and modes of behavi or which fit him or her to his or her appropriate role in a given social group a nd which make him or her acceptable to others. Like, Harambolass conceptualizatio n, it implies that a child is not social from birth, but only gradually becomes social through the life process of socialization. On the other hand, the culture of a society as defined by Ralph Linton is the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits they learn, share an d transmit from generation to generation (cited in Harambolas, 1980: 3). Here, th e two distinct aspects of culture trace their relationship to the process of soc ialization. Being learned implies that culture, unlike genetically transmitted racial charac teristics, is acquired as children grow up through the process of socialization (Beals and Hoijer, 1965: 280). Through socialization, the culturally significant guidelines of the society are instilled in the consciousness of its members so that the basic problems are confronted in a mature approach with reference to th e learned aspects of their behavior. The other aspect of culture is the notion of it as being a shared possession. Me mbers of particular societies are expected to behave in a specifically establish ed standard. As such, the process of socialization serves as a starting point in the gradual realization of the level of conformity to values and norms in that society. Seen in this perspective, socialization should be the maintenance of so ciety through social unity and social solidarity (Harambola, 1980:11). However, the most argued contexts of the concept of socialization are perhaps th e approach or theoretic perspective that can be used rightfully to fully explain a process of such a scope. It as also been argued that the disciplines of anthr opology and psychology should remain separate in studying this area. How contras ting the approaches may, the neutral line if thinking agrees with the observed f act that socialization should not be confined to childhood alone. Rather, biological, sociological, psychological and environmental as well are ve ry much life-long processes that ultimately begin from infancy stage and involve every aspect of human beings surroundings. The childhood years for mine are a de cisive period, which clearly expects the first agency of socialization the famil y unit to be playing the influential role in socializing the new member to be kn owledgeable of the accepted norms in society.

For attachment theorists, the first agency of socialization in the form of paren t is the focus of their explanation. Mothers are indeed the crucial actors in th e infancy stage because social proximity and the gaining of physical contact (by the infant or child) is a means of indirectly or directly signaling long-term b ehavior patterns (Ainsworth, 1974: 99). By responding to the approval and disapp roval of its mother, and imitating her examples, the child learns the language a nd many of the basic behavior patterns of its society (Harambolas, 1980: 4). Another approach to the explanation of socialization as a concept is the sociali stic approach. This approach has been described as the core of traditional socio logical and anthropological thought because it holds society and its culture as having an existence of its own, independent of the individuals who at any moment make up its membership. Brim (1960) contends that behavior is determined by situations factors that call forth a particular role (in Zigler et al., 1982:118). Thus socialistic proponen ts argue that society and the culture of that particular society are in operatio n both before and after an individuals lifetime. They see the individual as devel oping passively, his behavior determined by the demands of his society (ibid.). In simple understanding, socialization is the process through which one becomes adaptable and acceptable in the conditions and society respectively. The sociali stic approach is perhaps mindful about the content of the process of socializati on and transmission of social rules. This is because the content of what childre n learn in the course of their socialization varies quite substantially from one class or culture to another. However, it is also a demanding endeavor in the study of the theory of socializa tion because of the differing basic processes involved in socialization by sex ( Leslie, 1982: 510). Particularly interesting are the practices followed in reari ng boys and girls, and the fact that societies vary greatly in the extent to whi ch they have differing expectations of and impose distinct demands on the two ge nders. The underlying idea here is that socialization as a process of learning a nd sharing cultural values strictly observes gender distinction and the relative demands of different life-styles. As such, sexual division of labor calls for v arying levels of socialization in different societies. Perhaps the tendency to be sociological and anthropological has given this discu ssion a more social explanation compared to the biological-oriented and personal ity conscious versions of the discipline of psychology. Appropriately too, the a nthropological and sociological perspectives on the process of socialization ten d to appreciate the role of agencies of socialization and the normative systems of society (family systems, economic institutions, religious institution, etc.) in socialization. Agencies of socialization used especially in Western societies include the educa tion system, occupation group and in recent years, the peer group. Thus, from a sociological point of view, interaction between members of society enables an in dividual to conform to the accepted ways of a social group to appreciate the fac t that life is based on rules. THE PROCESS OF SOCIALIZATION: A PACIFIC ISLAND CASE STUDY In discussing my cultural experience and the means that were used in my acquisit ion of skills, knowledge and accepted behaviors, the main idea of the socialisti c approach should be reiterated. That is, the physical environment (nature) of a society may be expected to have much to do with determining the socialization p ractices within that society. This may include socialization practices in societ ies whose economies depend on differing degrees of food accumulation (Zigler et

al, 1982: 120). However, the most basic unit of society, the family unit also pl ays the role of socializing the child in his or her community. To be considered alongside the definitions of socialization as already mentioned and in view of the socialistic approach in extremely complex; each aspect of pe rsonality is multiply determined, the product of influences exerted by many agen ts through several processes and agents (Zigler et al 1982: 99). Thus, the set o f customs recorded in any society represents separate instances of how a people may solve life problems and demands. My own childhood years were spent in my mothers village, which is located in New Hanover Island in the New Ireland province of Papua New Guinea, with the great P acific Ocean. There the language spoken is Tungak of the Austronesian language f amily. In my mothers society the people are divided into 12 matrilineal clans kno wn as pat-mani (clan). Marriage and sexual relations within ones own clan is str ictly forbidden. The environment there is island type with staple food being sag o and marine products, taro, sweet potato and a variety of vegetables and fruits . As in any Pacific Islands community, my mothers society, which is that of fishing and gardening, requires skills, knowledge and certain behavioral patterns. In t he area of acquiring of skills, children in my mothers society learn at an early age. The language for all children is acquired by listening and attempts at spee ch and eventually the mastering of the language. Swimming is learnt through actu al splashing as an infant in the caring arms of ones elders on the beach. As one grows older, the more adventurous and self-thought skills of swimming are discov ered through the company of other children of the same age group and from watchi ng older kin brothers and sisters and even parents. The young male learnt to fish by actually imitating fathers using broom sticks a s spears and throwing such projectiles at targets, which are usually pits of ban ana stems. A variety of techniques of fishing are learnt as children grow older, among these the techniques of diving in the outer reef, chasing fish on the ree f and learning the magical rituals in the art of fishing. Fishing in its element ary stage was done through spearfishing or line fishing starting near the beach. Only after knowing how to fish and swim in the shallow areas, can a child ventur e out into the deepest parts of the reef. Children who are able to back their ab ility and venture into the outer reefs must of course seek their parents approval . Likewise, to be a hunter of wild pigs and other land-based sources of protein, a hunter requires a person to be trained by a specialist hunter. For girls, the female instinct of babies and nursing comes at an early age where the girls play with flowers etc., and care for such as if these were babies by combing their hairs and putting these to sleep. Fetching water, cutting firewoo d and tying and carrying these on their backs requires skill. Mat making by wome nfolk was learnt first by observation and actual weaving. Dancing and songs were learnt. The rhythms of songs and footwork and costumes were skills passed over by parents and older kin by way of having youngsters to actually take part in su ch cultural activities. Knowledge of traditions was by word of mouth as grandparents passed the knowledg e of such through legends and myths and by way of identification of notable and significant landmarks. Knowledge of relations with other clans and relating to k in and the opposite sex were provided. Indeed the process of acquiring knowledge was by way of listening, doing and encouraged and or reprimanded and corrected. In the area of accepted behavior, I remember how children from an early age were

though to respect elders, to speak kindly to older folks and not to walk in fro nt of elders or any body for that matter. Social relation with certain members o f society was an area in itself. For instance, a female cousin from ones fathers l ineage was to be respected. It was forbidden to enter her place of sleep and to even utter a word to her. Communication with her had to be done through a kin. Such strict norms guiding r elations with first cousins, and countless other experiences are the vivid memor ies of my childhood years. My association with fellow village children (especial ly boys) helped me to gradually understand and fluently speak the Tungak languag e. This ability to gain access to socially meaningfully and significant aspects of the culture increased my capacity for thought, fantasy and planning. The actual aspects of my cultural upbringing involved the basic agencies of soci alization and the normative systems. The first agent of socialization in my case was my extended family, especially my grandmothers and aunts. What I was introd uced to in this part of my early childhood was the duty to know members of my fa mily and society by heart. Through the process of socialization, as I would come in contact with people, I would be introduced to them and an explanation of my relationship to them would be given. In this way I would know my relationship to different persons and would act accordingly such as avoiding any sexual relatio nships with female persons of my clan and blood relatives. Basically, in the learning of the societys accepted behaviors, the people with th e greater influence in my childhood were my grandmothers. Respect for other peop les property was a constant reminded wherever I sat near my grandmothers and my f ear of being physically beaten up by my uncle also gave me the choice to adhere to my grandmothers advice. Also influential in the process of my early childhood was the work of the missio n namely the Methodist Church. In Sunday schools, the message of vengeance on si nners by God made me fearful of committing any wrongful acts. Directly the relig ious system shaped the behavior I had towards fellow villagers. Accepted behavio r rotated around the greater virtue of respect because the image of the family w as as risk of being degraded in the usual gossiping quarters and even frowns from the community. In the acquisition of skills, the traditional ways of accumulating food especial ly fishing and gardening, necessary means of survival were either through my par ticipation, observing and attentive hearing to elders and the more knowledgeable ones. On many occasions the common skills such as canoe-making, sago production and food production were communally performed so that I was expected to partici pate and observe. Laziness was not tolerated so that by the age of six I was alr eady allowed to have a garden of my own and acquainting myself with a variety of vegetables and plants and accompanied my grandmother to her garden on the mount ainside. Customary rituals and herbal magic for mastering specialist arts of fighting, fi shing, gardening, and so forth were ultimately passed on to those selected elite s whom the elders saw fit. In this way, the skills and knowledge would not be ab used but be protected for the good of society. Thus one had to gain the trust of an elder of the family to be able to be the recipient of vast traditional knowl edge in the many skills associated with survival in my society. So often this ha ppened after the boys and girls had reached adulthood. CONCLUSION Socialization, as discussed in this paper is compulsory to the survival of our d iverse human cultures. Socialization is the positioning of the human person in h is or her society. Societies are governed by established rules and norms for dea

ling with the problems and demands of that particular environment. As such, the shared and learned nature if culture us mostly instigated by the process of soci alization. Agencies of socialization and normative systems have the onus in tran smitting either consciously or otherwise the cultural values of the past generat ions to the next. For mine, the Melanesian context in the Pacific Islands is ver y well served with institutions and systems of socialization. This is evident in the way our regulated cultures survived and continue to do so in the age of int rusion by the forces of globalization into our societies. As a child growing up in my mothers society, I was able to acquire skills, knowle dge and accepted behavior through the process of socialization. As any person wh o was raised in a close-knit society will attest, there are obvious benefits. Fi rstly, the community as a whole strictly monitors ones behaviour and activities. One is in fact conscious of his or behavior and progressively it becomes a way o f life. Secondly, I was made to know the consequences of actions and the repercussions o f my behavior on the reputation of my immediate family. Bringing shame to my fam ily is something of utter disappointment in close-knit community as mine. So it is ones responsibility to avoid having ones familys name in disrepute through harm onizing of ones behavior with the communitys values and accepted code of conduct. This was a very conducive environment for my socialization process where I was able to acquire skills in fishing and gardening and knowledge of my society by w ay of mouth through legends and through interactions and contact with my people. I learned what the accepted behaviors were and what constituted the unaccepted behaviors.

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