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Describe the different meanings of Social Control.

Describe the different meanings of Social Control.

Course: ba sociology

1 Answer

Means of Social Control:

Society, social groups and organization exercise control over its members by means of its agencies like law, folkways and mores, customs, tradition, religion, morality, sanction,, education, public opinion propaganda, correction etc.


These are those folkways and mores which have persisted for a very long time and have passed down from one generation to another. There is no constituted authority to declare them, yet they are accepted by society. They are maintained from generation to generation. They prescribe patterns of behaviour. They are learnt in early socialization stages. They are like folkways, rarely opposed and obeyed as are believed to be beneficial for the society and its people. Like folkways, they are most effective in primitive and simple societies.

They are powerful means of social control which one cannot escape. They regulate social life to a great extent, especially in primitive societies. Violation of customs lead to group expulsion, harsh ridicule etc.


It is the most important formal means of social control. Law is a body of rules enacted by legally authorized bodies and enforced by authorized agencies. These are consciously enacted. The sources from which law is made are customs, tradition, religion, universal human rights postulates, constitution of the state etc. When the customs and traditions of a society is viewed by the law makers as effective and justifiable, they make it a law. Law is enforced through legislation and implemented by the administrative machinery, bureaucracy, the police force, judiciary. it defines clearly rights, duties as well as the punishments for their violation. The modern societies are large, complex, impersonal in nature where informal means are Weakened and formalization of rules become necessary.


It is a powerful agency which influences man’s behaviour. It contributes to stability and order by reinforcing the societal values and norms. Religion has its own code of conduct which people obey as a matter of respect and fear of the supernatural. Religion enforce the kind of faith and belief system which man learns in the family and the environment around him as well as through spiritual teats. The doctrines are never put to interpretation according’ to different social conditions and life experiences but followed without any second thought. Religious organizations like the Church, Temple, Mosque, Monasteries etc. actively control human conduct within their area of influence. That children should obey their parents, should not lie or cheat, honest and virtuous, be good to others are some of the religious teachings which influence man’s behaviour.


It is a process of socialization and prepares the child for social living. It teaches him values of discipline, social cooperation, tolerance etc. Education acts as socializing force at two levels. Informal education is learnt in the family, peer group and neighborhood where the social values are learnt. Formal education is obtained at the school, college and universities, church and other religious institutions etc. It also prepares the students for their adult occupational roles.


Apart from being an important agency of socialization, family exercises social control as well. A family values and customs are enforced upon its members through disciplinary measures, system of rewards and punishments.


Due to the support a leader enjoys, his suggestions and guidance members towards common values and goals.

Mass Media:

There are several agencies for formulation and expression of public opinion. Newspaper, radio, T.V. etc. are not only means of mass communication but are also a social control agency. They change, mould or control people’s behaviour in a particular way.

Force or Coercion:

Coercion or use of force to achieve a desired end is the ultimate means of social control when all other means fail. The power of using coercion as a means of social control is vested only with the state and its organizations. No other organization or association are empowered with the use of physical force. Coercion also include the threat to use physical force. It is targeted against the anti social elements to prevent further anti-social activities. Although coercion can not wipe out anti-social activities, it is necessary to protect the law by bringing fear into the mind of the people.In totalitarian states and colonial regimes physical force and violent means are used. Non-violent means consists of the strike, the boycott and non-cooperation.

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November 7, 2019