social control n.
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Social Control

Social Control

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Social Control

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  1. Social Control

  2. Social Control • Ensures that members of society behave in appropriate ways most of the time • Less deviation from acceptable behavior in most band societies than in more complex societies

  3. Social Norms • Define normal, proper, or expected ways of behaving • Come in a variety of forms – from etiquette to formal laws • Deviance from social norms is relative and culturally defined • Sanctions: patterned or institutionalized ways of encouraging people to conform to norms • Both positive and negative • May also be formal or informal

  4. Informal Means of Social Control • Socialization • Public Opinion • Corporate Lineages • Supernatural Belief Systems • Age Organizations

  5. Informal Social Control: Socialization • Every society, in order to survive, must pass on social norms from one generation to the next • When members learn cultural norms, they also usually internalize the moral necessity to obey them • Variations in levels of coerciveness when socializing children

  6. Informal Social Control: Public Opinion • In all cultures, people want the approval of other members of their society • Gossip, ostracism, rumor, sarcasm, and derision are all powerful corrective measures for reforming social behavior • Degradation ceremonies refer to formal societal mechanisms to publicly humiliate a deviant

  7. Informal Social Control: Corporate Lineages • Play a dominant role in most small-scale societies • Exert economic control over their members • Act of mechanisms because of their scale – localized communities whose members know what everyone else is doing • Exert social control because of diffuse roles • Exert social control due to collective capacity to control marriage

  8. Informal Social Control: Supernatural Belief Systems • Belief in supernatural forces such as gods, witches, and sorcerers • Ancestor worship • Dead ancestors are fully functioning members of the descent group • Ghost invocation brings wrath of ancestor gods against the transgressor • Ghost vengeance is the belief that ancestor-gods inflict sickness without having to be invoked • Witchcraft • Common in acephalous societies • People reject the idea that misfortunes result from natural causes • Deviant runs risk of being labeled a witch • Fear of witchcraft encourages conformity

  9. Informal Social Control: Witchcraft • Common in acephalous societies • People reject the idea of misfortunes resulting from natural causes • A deviant runs the risk of being labeled a witch, and fear of being accused of witchcraft encourages conformity • Witches often identified by ritual specialist, a shaman, then community takes action

  10. Age Organization • Age set – group of people initiated during a periodic ceremony • Strong sense of group identity with one another • Lasts from its inception until its last member has died • Age grades • Categories through age sets pass as a group • An understood set of social roles and statuses • Control behavior in a number of ways • Establish a clear set of roles and status • Effective channels for the distribution of authority • Rites of passage are almost always preceded by intense periods of training in the norms and values of a society • Bonds of camaraderie are so strong that age sets tend to take on characteristics of a corporate group • Neither self-perpetuating nor property owning

  11. Formal Means of Social Control • Violation of social norms often results in disputes among people in the society • When disputes become violent conflicts, they are called crimes • Song Duels • Intermediaries • Moots: Informal Courts • Oaths and Ordeals • Courts and Codified Law • Warfare

  12. Formal Social Control:Crimes • Crimes are more likely in large, heterogeneous, stratified societies than in small-scale societies • Little or no anonymity in small scale societies • More concern with negative public opinion in small-scale societies • Heterogeneity of complex societies means more groups with different, and probably conflicting, interests • Lower castes or classes in complex societies may be more likely to violate the rights of the more privileged

  13. Formal Social Control: Song Duels • Inuit of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland • A derisive song contest • Used to settle disputes that frequently involved in wife stealing • Alternative to murder

  14. Formal Social Control: Intermediaries • Nuer of the Sudan • Help resolve serious conflicts • Nuer’s Leopard-skin chief has no authority to determine guilt or enforce settlement between parties • Uses personal and supernatural influence to bring the disputing parties to some type of agreed-upon settlement

  15. Formal Social Control: Moots • Kpelle of Liberia and Guinea • Found in many African societies • Effective mechanism for conflict resolution • Informal airings of disputes involving kinsmen and friends of litigants • Generally deal with the resolution of domestic disputes • Attempt to reintegrate the guilty party back into community, restore normal social relations, achieve reconciliation without bitterness and acrimony

  16. Formal Social Control: Oaths and Ordeals • Ashanti of West Africa • Religiously sanctioned • Oath – formal declaration to some supernatural force that what you are saying is truthful or that you are innocent • Almost always accompanied by a ritual act • Ordeal is means of determining guilt by submitting accused to a dangerous test • Most likely to be found in complex societies where the political leadership lacks power to enforce judicial decisions

  17. Formal Social Control: Courts • State systems possess a monopoly on the use of force • Through system of codified law, state both forbids individuals from using force and determines how it will use force to require certain behaviors from citizens • When legal prescriptions are violated, state has authority to fine, imprison, or even execute the wrongdoer • Unauthorized use of force happens – crime, rebellion, revolution • Emphasis on punishment to avoid threat to the legitimacy of political and legal authority • Whereas state systems of government emphasize punishment, some small scale societies emphasize re-establishing harmony

  18. Codified Law Qualities • Three basic features • Involves the legitimate use of physical coercion • Allocate official authority to privileged people who are able to use coercion legitimately • Based on regularity and a certain amount of predictability

  19. Formal Social Control: Warfare • Systemic, organized, institutionalized fighting between different groups • Enormous cultural variability in the extent to which societies use warfare • Only a human activity since Neolithic period • General factors contributing to warfare • Social problems • Perceived threats • Political motivations • Moral objectives

  20. Reasons foraging societies were not warlike • Had no centralized governments that could finance and coordinate number of people needed for military campaigns • Absence of food surpluses precluded prolonged combat • Did not control land or territorial boundaries – major motivations for warfare • Exogamous bands not likely to become hostile toward other bands into which relatives have married