The social learning framework utilizes both psychological and sociological variables in explaining behaviors and believes that social context interacts within an individual’s personal attributes in the process of learning a specific social role. Based on the social learning theory, sport sociologists have adopted the social role-social system framework which utilizes both personal and environmental variables in the study of sport socialization.
Specifically, sports role learning can be studied by looking at the influence of three factors, namely socialization situations, social agents (significant others), and the personal attributes of the socializee. This approach speculates that “role learning is accounted for by exposure of the role learner, who is already characterized by a set of physical and psychological traits, to a variety of stimuli and reinforcements provided by significant others” (e.g., parents, peers, coaches, teachers, professional athletes), “who act within one or more norm-encumbered social systems” (e.g., family, church, community, peer group, or mass media).
Furthermore, within each social system, these significant others have the potential to facilitate or inhibit role learning depending on unique values, norms, sanctions, and opportunity sets. The socialization process is also influenced by a number of macro and micro-system factors, such as the dominant ideology within a given society, social class background, ethnicity, religion, gender, place, and type of residence, and age.
Therefore, the social role-social system model operates on a micro (individual and group) and macro (societal and cultural) levels and includes variables at both levels in its analysis of sport socialization. In the social role-social system framework, the family is considered a legitimate social system of socialization. In order to understand how the family functions in socializing its members, a brief review of family system theory is presented in the next section. The review provides a theoretical base for examining family as a significant context in which socialization occurs.