Religion and Social Control Things Fall Apart – Ch. 9-10
What is Social Control? • Social control refers generally to societal and political mechanisms or processes that regulate individual and group behavior, leading to conformity and compliance to the rules of a given society, state, or social group.
Religion and Social Control • Sociologist Edward A. Ross argued that belief systems exert a greater control on human behavior than laws imposed by government, no matter what form the beliefs take.
Masks of the Igbo • The Igbo masquerades, mmanwu, are traditional performances acted out by exclusive secret societies within a community. • These exclusive societies consist of adult male members. Each member must be initiated into the society. Their identity is known only to the other members.
Masks of the Igbo • The members, also known as masqueraders, wear masks to hide their identity from the rest of the village. The mask is also worn to resemble the spirit of a dead community member. • By wearing the mask, a masquerader is thought to have spiritual powers that are conducted through the mask.
Masks of the Igbo • The main function of these societies is to celebrate the harvest and to entertain the village people. • Some other functions include enforcing village curfews, protection, and as village security guards.
Masks of the Igbo • There are two basic types of masquerades, visible and invisible. • The visible masquerades are meant for the public. They often are more entertaining. In these visual masquerades, performances of harassment, music, dance, and parodies are acted out.
Masks of the Igbo • The invisible masquerades take place at night. Sound is the main tool for them. The masquerader uses his voice to scream so it may be heard throughout the village. • The masks used are usually fierce looking and their interpretation is only fully understood by the society’s members. • These invisible masquerades call upon a silent village to strike fear in the hearts of those not initiated into their society.
Role of the Egwugwu • “Our duty is not to blame this man or to praise that, but to settle the dispute” --Evil Forest
Social Control • How do our belief systems incorporate the use of masks, uniforms and other informal tools of social control?