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Socialization is a lens communication scholars study organizational discourse through evidence of individual interactions during the process of “joining, participating in, and leaving organizations” (Kramer & Miller, 2014 p. 525 as cited in (Lamb, 2024). Generally, communication scholars view this process through the lens of assimilation, which concerns the “ongoing behavioral and cognitive processes by which individuals join, become integrated into, and exist in organizations” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 119). Socialization explores the adaptive features people use to make sense of processes and culture while learning to understand how to perform in their positions. Two unique models endeavor to conceptualize the socialization within organizations. First, the Jablin model explains a methodology scholars use to study the socialization process through the stages of encounters by individuals with the organization. This process is examined through three stages: anticipatory socialization, encounter, and metamorphosis.

Phase 1: Anticipatory Socialization

Jablin posits three phases are encountered by individuals who are socialized with the organization through the discourse they encounter. Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes that “occur before an individual enters an organization (Van Maanen, 1975 as cited in (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 121). Evidence of anticipatory socialization could be revealed through an employment interview, probing applicants for understanding how they came to desire to work for the organization. Further evidence could be collected after hire by investigating the individual’s efforts to make sense of their new occupation and employer, the processes related to the goals of the organization, and the communication discourse between the newcomer and the organization. This approach would fit squarely within the framework offered by Miller and our lecturer (Miller & Barbour, 2020, pp. 120–121).

Phase 2: Encounter

The second phase of the socialization process concerns the “point of entry” into the organization and the first encounters with “life on the job” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 122). This phase of socialization aims to understand how communication investments by the organization transfer to use by the newcomer when understanding the company’s “goals and culture”. It can work to “enhan[ce] commitment and reduce turnover (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 123).

Phase 3: Metamorphosis

The third socialization phase concerns transforming from “outsider to insider” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 123). Interestingly, this stage can also concern the study one encounters during transferring from one department to another. From an investigatory lens, communication discourse could be studied from the lens of how one assimilates into the shared vision and reality of the organization at the macro level or, perhaps, with subsystems of the organization at the more nuanced level. Each approach could endeavor to understand sense-making efforts: What were their understandings of the position before entry, transitionally, and after socialization? Measurements would reveal underlying metamorphosis at work, evidenced through the means of communication utilized to achieve the desired outcomes.


Each phase of Jablin’s model showcases the rich opportunities to investigate communication as an integral component of the what is a transformative process. As denoted by our text, the interview is a rich communication environment that initiates the socialization process in anticipation of future interactions with the employer. As Wanous (1992) introduced, this phase offers the unique opportunity to begin the transformative process through realistic job previews (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 128). This concept concerns reducing expectation disparities between one’s perception and reality through persuasive communication strategies, essentially modifying one’s unrealistic job expectations into more rational ones, thereby reducing the negative stress associated with follow-up phases of socialization.

This could look like the efforts undertaken by human resources professionals when selling the role: Do they oversell the role, which results in a disparity of understanding and complicates the socialization process? If so, one could reasonably underscore the likelihood that misalignments associated with the anticipation phase could present negative outcomes, resulting in premature exit from the organization. This phenomenon will be examined according to one particular theory, which offered considerable insight into the development of in and out groups within the organization: Leader Member Exchange.

The entire concept of socialization relies on the underlying communication deployed during the process. The process concerns the sense that one makes of their new environment, from the anticipation related to the encounters through the transformation one undergoes during the process. This construct provides the investigative framework to understand how newcomers seek and make sense of information (Miller & Barbour, 2020, pp. 128–129).

Table 7.2 of our text associates the various discourses that govern encounters through which newcomers seek information. From overt questions and observations through communication surveillance, newcomers have been studied within organizations to understand how they “topographically” make sense of the environments they chose to join (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 129). These processes have been the basis for various theoretical constructs examined by our lecturer, particularly their orientation as related to various stages of the socialization process.

Evolving Jablin Thought: Theoretical Perspectives

Our lecturer highlights four unique theoretical perspectives that traverse Jablin’s thought. These theories build upon Jablin’s model and provide a theoretical framework to explain the socialization process more deeply. Our lecturer underscores Uncertainty Management Theory, Sensemaking Theory, Social Exchange Theory, and Social Identity Theory as the leading frameworks for understanding how one progresses through socialization (Lamb, 2024b). Each endeavors to explain the discourse surrounding certain phases of Jablin’s socialization framework.

Uncertainty Management Theory or UMT concerns an evolution of Uncertainty Reduction Theory and serves as a “framework to help us understand how and why people communicate to reduce or manage the uncertain” components of the socialization process (Goodwin, 2023; Lamb, 2024f). Social Exchange Theory generally concerns the “economic view of relationships and how people decide which relationships to keep, their worth, how to manage them, and how/when to leave them (Lamb, 2024d). Social Identity Theory surrounds sensation and perception, delving into how we “perceive ourselves as members of the organization and how our coworkers perceive us as members” (Lamb, 2024e). Finally, Sensemaking Theory concerns how “individuals assign meaning to what they have experienced” (Lamb, 2024c).

Each theoretical construct could be investigated by studying communication discourse between newcomers, other employees of the organization, and the organization itself. When contemplating the application of theoretical frameworks to our semester research project, communication during each phase of socialization could be studied through the framework offered by the accompanying theory. For instance, one may elect to understand how the unmet expectations of newcomers serve to disenfranchise the newcomer from the socialization process and how the enablement of realistic job previews (RJPs) could interrupt that process through discourse (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 128). While this framework exists in the anticipatory phase of socialization, one could rationally apply sensemaking theory to understand further how discourse variations contribute to conflicts of perception or unmet expectations.

The Usefulness of Socialization Frameworks and Theoretical Constructs

One area of interest, revealed through aspects of the socialization process, is the evolution one encounters during the hiring process. First, we have chosen to critique our selected organization through Systems perspectives and Emotion. Consideration should be afforded to how socialization is seen by systems theorists as a “boundary transition (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 135). Rightfully, investigating socialization aptly rests on researching the understanding of the “role of communication networks on the adaptation of newcomers (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 135). At our selected organization, evidence could be revealed by understanding the boundary-spanning activities that exist when receiving inputs from the external environment: the new hire. One could examine the requisite input and communication across permeable boundaries with the employee, then the direct violation of boundaries when the employee crosses the environmental threshold. What encounters did the employee have before the encounter phase: A billboard advertisement? A traditional want ad? An internet advertisement? How did the communication ecosystem evolve into an employment interview?

Next, during the interview, what throughput existed between the communication between the outsider and insider? In other words, one could approach the study of this interaction by investigating the message content and information-seeking activities of the applicant in alignment with major lines of research (Lamb, 2024a). How did the assimilation process start? At FCSA, evidence strongly suggests that most boundary-spanning activities related to newcomers are based on employee referrals, which represents the organizations boundary spanning activities and the resulting throughput. A unique perspective could measure the employee’s traverse of the socialization process from the external (anticipatory) to internal (encounter) phases.

During the encounter phase, formal and informal discourse could reveal how one shares the meaning of the organization, including the organization’s shared vision, culture, and goals (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 122). This phase involves “extensive information seeking” on the part of the employee (Miller & Jabin, 1991; as cited in (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 122). Logically, sensemaking theory seems highly relevant as a framework for understanding how individuals assign meaning during transition.

Finally, one could seek evidence of the success of earlier phases of progression through socialization by understanding the encounters one undertakes when completing metamorphosis. From this perspective, Leader-Member Exchange may offer a theoretical construct applicable to FCSA’s orientation process.

Particular Strengths: A Learning Critique

Leader Member Exchange could offer a framework for examination of the new student socialization process at Penn State. Student and faculty advisors are offered to assist us in our freshman transition. Specific communication occurs through which we undertake our natural role as a subordinate. We are tasked with digital courses to assimilate us into the culture of the University. Michael Mucci was my leader, who clarified our roles: he advises, I follow. Role Routinization occurs through my acceptance of normative cultural expectations, and naturally, I discover myself as a successful part of the In-Group of performers within the Penn State culture. Through my academic experience, which began as an input to the Penn State environment, I have discovered latitude in task development through the latitude I have been offered through my pursuit of academic excellence. However, certain people do not encounter the same experience. They find themselves outside the university, or at a minimum, characterized by their performance and accordingly seen as out-group members. This construct contemplates the socialization process, yet it seems it is ripe for improvement.

To the degree our lecturer calls for an opinion, it seems that socialization is studied through the lens discussed herein: anticipation socialization, encounter, and metamorphosis (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 121). Much attention has been paid to what seems to be recruitment-related activities, which are correlated most strongly with the anticipatory phase of the socialization continuum. One unique page summarizes the components that contemplate socialization failure: organizational exit and even within this component, most research contemplates retirement and disengagement from the organization as a result of aging (e.g., Shultz, Morton, & Weckerle, 1998; as cited in (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 133). Our text outlines the need for research within this arena (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 134). We know communication is a critical component of the disengagement process (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 134); accordingly, understanding discourse at this level would serve the entire process well from the standpoint of understanding nonvoluntary disengagements.

Summary of Approach to Study

While interlaced within the components of this essay, the study methods used to investigate socialization vary but aim to examine communication through each phase of the process. Before one crosses into the organization’s environment, external communication efforts aimed at attraction (recruitment) could be studied to determine how one initially makes sense of the opportunity to join the organization. What attracted them, and what led to both parties’ desire for an interview? During the interview, one could examine the discourse between the organization and the prospective employee; this could further evidence the sense one applies to the expectations before them and serve to reveal the potential for unmet expectations. A realistic job preview (RJP) may solve the conflict of perception and offer a unique perspective of measurement when deployed. Finally, one could examine, through the LMX framework, how one progresses through the three phases of socialization. This approach could investigate the various degrees to which leadership interacts with the employee, as evidenced through communication, as the employee finds themselves as a member of an in or out group.


A particular strength exists concerning the value of socialization as a measurement of one’s transformation in the organization’s environment. However, a particular weakness exists with the framework, as it focuses on communication surrounding recruitment, encounter, and metamorphosis but fails to address termination or disengagement meaningfully. This would be a particular area of interest to our chosen organization: how failed socialization, according to any of the four focused theoretical frameworks, results in exceptional costs to the organization. It seems, at least for our container, that the expectations of working at FCSA do not align with the reality the employee faces, which results in a conflict, whereas the expectations and culture were communicated with abundant clarity as they were at Penn State; accordingly, communication tends to be promotive, and opportunity abounds with the latter, whereas failed socialization seems to occur during the former. In either case, understanding outcomes is rational and Miller’s highlight of the limited scholarship in the exit stage of the model, is warranted and a particular weakness of the framework which studies communication as related to socialization.


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Socialization is a lens communication scholars study organizational discourse through evidence of individual interactions during the process of “joining, participating in, and leaving organizations” (Kramer & Miller, 2014 p. 525 as cited…

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