All cultures in the human and animal "kingdoms" seem to intuitively "know" that social structures form their young. These social influencing elements in the human realm are family, friends, and ethnic tribe.
Social construction is the process of internalizing the social norms, and values in a certain culture. These norms, and values help the young to frame their understanding of the world. Identity is not fully formed in such environments, because of the young's dependent stage of development. The young need the environment to further the internalization process.
In free societies, the family is not stingently defined by outside sources, other than the values of those entering into that commitment. But, religious cultures deem it necessary to define such structures in a uniform way.
The dissolution of such stringent structures has led to much debate about whether it has brought value to society in general. Have such "flexible norms" produced young that have no conscience or regard for society as a value? Has it led to the demise of "civil society" because the young tend to act out of their resistance to what they deem to be oppressive? Or has society "grown" in its understanding of the human need for flexible norms?
The young need nurture. This fact is not debated, but there does come a time when the young must outgrow and think for themselves what is important and of value. Does strict upbringing leave room for promoting intellectural growth? Or does it produce guilt, anxiety, and fear whenever such boundaries are ignored, dissolved, or re-defined? Where is the responsibility of the parent, and teacher/professor?
The child must develop beyond helpless dependence, not only in the physical areas of his life, but also his personal areas. This is the formation of forming the child in his own image and not to a source outside of himself. And when the young adult finds that he has formed and thought out his own values, then he will then be able to commit to a social group, not because of "felt need", but because of his own chosen values.
Friday Science: Hawking 1
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