Social control and agencies of social control

Social control refers to the various means by which a society or social group maintains order, regulates behavior, and keeps individuals in line with the norms, values, and expectations of the group. This can be achieved through a variety of methods and agencies, including both formal and informal means of control.

The concept of social control is a crucial one for understanding how societies function and how individuals are influenced to behave in certain ways. By understanding the various agencies and means of social control, we can gain a better understanding of the forces at work within society and the ways in which these forces shape our behavior and the choices we make. Consequently, social work professionals can have a better understanding of their clients in a particular social context and provide a better intervention for their problems. 

Agencies of social control

Formal agencies of social control are those that are established and sanctioned by the state or government, such as the police, the courts, and the prison system. These agencies are responsible for enforcing the laws and maintaining order within society. The police, for example, are charged with investigating crimes, making arrests, and protecting the public. The courts are responsible for interpreting the law and deciding on the guilt or innocence of individuals who have been charged with a crime. And the prison system is responsible for housing and rehabilitating individuals who have been convicted of a crime.

Informal agencies of social control, on the other hand, are those that are not established by the state or government, but rather arise naturally within a society. These include social norms, values, customs, mores, folklores and traditions that are passed down from generation to generation and serve to regulate behavior within a group.

For example, if a person grows up in a community that values honesty and hard work, they are more likely to internalize those values and behave in ways that are consistent with them.

In addition to these formal and informal agencies of social control, there are also various other means by which social control is exercised. One of these is through the use of punishment, which can take many forms, from physical punishment such as imprisonment or corporal punishment, to more subtle forms of punishment such as social ostracism or loss of status within a group. Another means of social control is through the use of rewards, such as praise, recognition, or other incentives, which serve to encourage individuals to conform to the norms, values, and expectations of the group.

Another important agency of social control is the media, which plays a crucial role in shaping public opinion and influencing the behavior of individuals within society. Through the use of television, radio, newspapers, and the internet, the media can present information and ideas in a way that can influence the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals. For example, the media may portray certain behaviors as being desirable or undesirable, and this can influence how individuals behave in their own lives.

The various agencies of social control play a vital role in maintaining order and regulating behavior within society. While there are both formal and informal means of control, and while some methods may be more effective than others, it is clear that without these agencies, society would be unable to function in a stable and orderly manner.