Anticipatory Socialization

Sociologist Robert Merton’s notion of anticipatory socialization, based on the case of the American soldier, offers a useful tool for analyzing transitions between childhood and youth. Many soldiers experienced a “change of social class” after returning from their war effort, particularly when receiving provisions such as affordable housing and education schemes available to veterans. The soldier anticipated the change by adopting and acting according to the values, symbols, and lifestyle of the group to which he aspired. To make the social mobility credible, it was crucial to change in a convincing manner, acquire knowledge of the values of the new reference group, and not least, be able to alienate oneself from the group or a class from which one originated.

The term anticipatory socialization may emphasize ...

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