- Deviance is best defined as any behavior that violates the norms set by society and also provokes negative social reactions.
- Crime and deviance awaken negative social reactions, so every society must make sure that people obey the most important norms daily.
- People verbally abuse others constantly for not abiding by the norms and acting outside of them; it has become so common we barely notice it.
- Incarceration is the most important formal sanction, and it is used as a punishment for the majority of crimes. Fines are used for deviant behavior that breaks the law, but not severely.
Deviance is best defined as any behavior that violates the norms set by society and also provokes negative social reactions. A more extreme kind of deviant behavior are crimes and they require formal laws that prohibit them. It is considered by many to be the most important type of deviance and is a concern to many.
We use social control as a means of controlling deviance, and there are many ways in which social control can manifest itself. Social control can be divided into informal and formal, and we will look into all the different ways we can enforce it in this article.
Crime and deviance awaken negative social reactions, so every society must make sure that people obey the most important norms daily. We use these norms to guide us in our everyday lives, and once we stop following them, we are prone to deviant behavior. The ways we use to prevent and sanction deviant behavior are all collected under the term social control.
The norms in a society can be either informal or formal, which means we can look at social control in the same way. Naturally, informal social control is mostly used to control the deviant behavior that violates informal norms, while formal social control is used for the violation of formal norms.
Informal Social Control
Informal social control is enforced by many different means, including social values, sanctions, and rewards and punishment. Social values are the result of a society creating norms and values, and individuals living there internalizing them. Society exercises this type of social control through various customs and norms, and people learn them throughout their lives. These values become a part of them, and in a way, they continue controlling them throughout their lives.
Sanctions might seem like a more formal type of social control, but there are many more informal sanctions we can witness daily. Things like ridicule, criticism, sarcasm, and shame are all forms of informal sanctions. These sanctions can also become more extreme and include exclusion and even discrimination. Through sanctions, we can see how big the influence of informal social control is on an individual because these values are so internalized that they become a huge part of their personality.
People verbally abuse others constantly for not abiding by the norms and acting outside of them; it has become so common we barely notice it. We can also control deviance employing rewards and punishment, which is pretty self-explanatory. People will avoid deviant behavior if they fear punishment, even if it is informal.
Formal Social Control
Formal sanctions are the main method of controlling social deviance formally. Various organizations controlled by the government usually imposes them. These sanctions are generally presented through laws, and they can either punish or reward behavior. Incarceration is the most important formal sanction, and it is used as a punishment for the majority of crimes. Fines are used for deviant behavior that breaks the law, but not severely. Naturally, there are also other types of formal sanctions, including expulsion and censorship. Breaking the law requires people to face the consequences of their actions.
Formal social control evolved through history, as our societies became more developed. It went hand in hand with the rise of civilizations. It was a necessity in order for the societies to continue developing further past the tribal beginnings. However, these methods of social control can easily be abused by people in positions of power.
The main technique to formally maintain social controls is laws. Most laws are based on social values that were developed through history, meaning they were informal at the beginning. Naturally, laws change over time, and many have become obsolete since we have adopted new values and changed the way we think drastically in the last several decades.