What is social control? Do you think the modes of social control in different spheres of society are different? Discuss.

Social control refers to the social processes, techniques and strategies by which the behaviour of an individual or a group is regulated.

There are two types of social control:

(i) The formal social control, which is formal, official and codified. Its agents are law and the state.

(ii) Informal social control, which is personal, unofficial and uncodified. For example, family, religion and kinship. This mode of social control is very effective in our daily life. However, this form of social control may not be adequate to enforce conformity or obedience.

Social control can also be either positive or negative, as in the case of sanctions. It is a mode of reward or punishment that enforces socially expected forms of behaviour. In this case, individuals are rewarded for their good behaviour and are punished for their offence in the society.

The modes of social control in different societies are different because in pre-modern societies, the caste system controlled and regulated the activities of individuals and kept a check on violation against the prescribed norms. Likewise, in modern societies the government and the state control its citizens and act as agents of social order.

Different societies have different norms and values, different structure and functions. Therefore, they have accordingly different techniques and strategies of social control.

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