Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 3–18 | Cite as

The socialization effects of cultural role models in ontogenetic development and upward mobility

  • Olga Beattie Emery
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


This paper presents a summary based on thirty case studies, in an attempt to illustrate the effects of cultural role models on development during childhood and adolescent years and on subsequent social mobility. Two research questions are explored: First, in a sample of thirty males, controlling for variables of race, age, ethnic and religious background, socio-economic background of origin including occupational and educational level of father, and early childhood disruptions in family of origin such as alcoholism of parent, death of parent, experience of poverty, why did fifteen boys coming out of a blue collar background grow up to become university professors while another fifteen boys of comparable origin grew up to become blue collar workers. In what ways, if any, are socialization effects of cultural role models implicated in the differential social class outcomes of these thirty boys who started at a comparable point in life. Second, what psychological processes are involved in the determination of who is socialized by what idea systems. Why is one person susceptible to being socialized by one set of ideas while another person is not. Findings include differential histories between the two groups of males on the dimension of socialization by cultural models. (These findings are counter to the Marxian hypothesis that economic factors are causal in psychological and cultural structuralization.) Further, it is found that an ongoing dominating concern, either conscious or unconscious, is the underlying selection principle in the psychology of knowledge and that books, as one form of cultural model, can serve as aprojective indicator of the chief phenomenological concern of an individual.


Socialization Effect Cultural Model Social Mobility Psychological Process Blue Collar Worker 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Beattie Emery
    • 1
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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