- Social control is defined as the regulation of human behavior through rules, laws, norms and various structures in our society.
- The people in positions of power can use their power to maintain social control; they can bend the rules and laws that were set and create new ones that fit them.
- Informal social control refers to all of the norms and values every society strives to uphold. It can also be defined as a system of beliefs that we learn through socialization.
- Formal social control is enforced by the city, state, or various other federal agencies. The most common examples of such agencies are the police and the military.
Social control is a term most often used in sociology. It is defined as the regulation of human behavior through rules, laws, norms, and various structures in our society. These are all the means used to maintain social control. It is a crucial part of our social order, and without controlling the population in a society, it could cease to exist.
However, some means of social control can be abused by the people in positions of power. They use their power to maintain social control; they can bend the rules and laws that were set and create new ones that fit them. Through this, they manage to control marginalized groups in societies.
Social Order And Socialization
Various institutional, economic, and social structures are used to achieve and maintain social control. Every society has a social order that was agreed upon by the people living in it throughout history. This social order makes our everyday lives go smoothly and allows everyone to have at least somewhat clear instructions on how they can behave in specific situations. Social control also regulates the division of labor in society.
Social order develops through socialization. Socialization is a lifelong process through which we learn the interactional and behavioral beliefs and expectations that are accepted in our families, communities, peer groups, and society as a whole. By interacting with other people, we consciously include ourselves in the process of socialization. It teaches us everything we need to know about behavior in society, how to behave and think in ways that are accepted by the majority.
How Do We Regulate Social Control?
Social control is also maintained through the physical way our society is organized. One example is the way traffic is regulated. We built roads and traffic signs to control the way people behave when they are driving. This would be an example of how we can organize society through physical means.
This goes far beyond just roads because, throughout many different parts of our cities that we need to go through every day, we have built ways that can seamlessly control the way people move around and behave. This is all done in a way that can maintain social control easily.
Because of the forces that we created to maintain social control, society has certain expectations of everyone. To not meet these expectations means that we might be forced to face a type of correction, or in more severe cases, a punishment. In the case of corrections, we are mostly thinking about confused looks from other people, or difficult conversations we might need to engage in occasionally. The more severe punishments can be things like a prison or social ostracization.
Types Of Social Control
Social control is most often divided into two types, informal and formal. Informal social control refers to all of the norms and values every society strives to uphold. It can also be defined as a system of beliefs that we learn through socialization. That process can last for the entirety of our lives. Informal social control is mostly enforced by our friends, family, teachers, and colleagues by using rewards and punishment.
Formal social control is enforced by the city, state, or various other federal agencies. The most common examples of such agencies are the police and the military. This type of control is much harder to maintain than informal social control. Still, in most cases, the presence of a police force in an area is enough to maintain it.
However, there are times when the police can abuse their power, and the people start losing trust in them as a tool that should maintain social control. This is when people start to protest, and they become the ones that uphold and enforce the real social order and the values that we should all strive for in our societies.