Definition and Necessity of socialcontrol

In any human society, there aredeviations from the accepted norms of a society or group. This movement awayfrom the accepted social standards is called social deviance. Each societyor group expects and attempts to ensure conformity of its members to its norms.Those members of a society or a group who abide by the rules and norms of thesociety (or the group) are called conformists, while those who don’t are called non-conformists. A society ora group applies some formal and informal mechanisms to achieve conformity.Individuals may not act according to the defined values and norms of the group.Therefore violation of values and norms and deviating from the standard valuesand norms are often common.

Socialcontrol is thus simply defined as all the mechanisms and processes employed by asociety to ensure conformity. In other words, social control is any cultural orsocial means by which restraints are imposed upon individual behavior and bywhich people are initiated to follow the traditions and patterns of behavior acceptedby society. It is, simply, a means by which conformists are rewarded andnon-conformists are punished.

Types of Social Control

There are two major types ofsocial control mechanisms.

These are: negative and positivesocial control mechanisms.

Negative Social Control:

This involves punishment or regulatingbehavior of deviants. A deviant is a person whose views and actions aredifferent in moral or social standards from what is considered normal oracceptable in the context of a certain social group. This social control may beat micro/ informal level and macro/ formal levels. Micro/ informal level socialcontrol occurs at the level of small groups such as peer groups, family, andinterpersonal relationships.

Examples of negative socialcontrol at micro levels include: simple gossip or backbiting, a simple frowning,reprimanding, pinching, beating, ridiculing, scolding, ostracizing, etc. The punishmentscan be in the psychological, social or physical/ material forms. Punishments atmacro or formal level include: fining, firing, demotion, imprisonment, banishmentor excommunication, capital punishment and so on.

Positive Social Control:

These mechanisms involve rewardingand encouraging those who abide by the norms. It involves rewarding the modelbehavior. The informal psychosocial reward mechanisms include simple smiles,saying encouraging word, shaking hands, thanking, showing appreciation, etc.Formal positive social control mechanism may include giving awards, promotingto a higher level of status, etc.

Social control is thus simply defined as allthe mechanisms and processes employed by a society to ensure conformity. In otherwords, social control is any cultural or social means by which restraints areimposed upon individual behavior and by which people are initiated to followthe traditions and patterns of behavior accepted by society. It is, simply, ameans by which conformists are rewarded and non-conformists are punished.

 Why do you think social control is necessary