Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Informal and Formal Social Control

The sanctions used to encourage conformity and obedience – and to discourage violation of social norms – are carried out through informal and formal social control. Informal social control, as the term implies, is used by people casually. Norms are enforced through the use of the informal sanctions described in earlier chapters. Examples of informal social control include smiles, laughter, rising of an eyebrow, and ridicule.
Techniques of informal control are typically employed within primary groups such as families. Individuals learn such techniques early in their childhood socialization to cultural norms. Since these mechanisms of social control are not formalized, there can be great variation in their use even within the same society. For example, imagine that a teenager is sated in a crowded bus in a seat. A rather frail-looking elderly man gets on the bus and has nowhere to sit; yet the teenager does not move. One nearby passenger may scowl at the teenager; another may stare until the teenager becomes uncomfortable, while a third may verbalize the control mechanism by telling the teenager to get up.
In some cases, informal methods of social control are not adequate in enforcing conforming or obedient behaviour. In the example above, the teenager might look away from the scowling and staring passengers and might tell the third person, “Mind your own business!” At this point, passengers might enlist the aid of the bus-driver – whose occupational role carries with it a certain authority – in an attempt to force the teenager to give up the seat. Formal social control is carried out by authorized agents such as police officers, physicians, school administrators, employers, military officers, and managers of any organization. As we have seen, it can serve as a last resort when socialization and informal sanctions do not bring about the desired behaviour.
Societies vary in deciding which behaviours will be subjected to formal social control and how sever the sanctions will be. In the nation of Singapore, there are fines of $625 for littering, $312 for eating on the subway, and $94 for failing to flush a public toilet. In 1992, Singapore banned the sale of chewing gum, and 514 people were convicted of illegally smoking in public. Although a law has not yet been passed, Singapore’s government has officially criticized people who come fashionably late for dinner parties; such behaviour is viewed as a “growing problem with wide implications for productivity”. Sadly, all of the above mentioned undesirable behaviours which are being tried to be eliminated or at least be curtailed in Singapore are very much present in our society and go unnoticed like routine activities.
It is important to emphasize that formal social control is not always carried out only by government officials in response to violations of the law. Certain subcultures within a society exercise formal social control to maintain adherence to their distinctive social norms. For example, in the villages of Pakistan especially in the interiors of Sind, any person (mainly women) caught to be having an illicit relationship is killed by her male family members in the name of honour.

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1 Responses to “Informal and Formal Social Control”

Ibn e Insaan said...
September 10, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Émile Durkheim, has defined Social Control as the regulation of some Society or Community. According to various definition we can define Social Control as a defined mechanisms that is adopted for the regulating people either individual or group behavior. leading to conformity and compliance to the rules of a society or community.
In any Society, there are many norms and control. The things that are prohibited in any society are called Social Control. By violating those norms, deviance is happened. Lawlessness is a major example of deviance and breaking of Social Control.
There are many kinds of Social Control, some include formal and informal social control, regulations chalked out to to encourage conformity and obedience and to discourage violation of social norms are carried out through informal and formal social control. one kind is is cross cultural social control. Informal social control, as the term implies, is used by people casually. Social Norms are enforced through the use of the informal sanctions.


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