Socialization is the process whereby novices gain knowledge and skills relevant to membership in a social group. This process is realized largely through language practices and social interactions that engage novices in a variety of communicative and situational roles. The study of socialization is to a large extent the study of how the social and linguistic organization of such language practices and social interactions bear on the emergence of social and cultural competence.
A species-wide characteristic of human beings is that they may experience socialization across the lifespan. Indeed, societal change may be related to the possibility of lifelong socialization, as each instance of socialization is an opportunity space not only for continuity of tradition but also for transformation in the expected social order and in what counts as knowledge and competence. Because participation in societies demands diverse and complex arenas of competence, members may find themselves relative novices in some arenas even though they are relative experts in others.