January 10, 2011
Introduction to the course
Introduction to social control
What is Social Control?
There are different views on what social control is.
He says that earlier definitions of social control talked about it broadly (anything that lends structure to society. Ex. Expectations around
gender, socialization, etc. into particular roles). So earlier definitions of SC looked at it from a socialization perspective and as the
things that give the social world order.
For this class, we will look at social control as responding to acts of deviance.
Sometimes, people look at informal and formal social control. This can be problematic because it isn’t always clear whether something is
formal or informal. School is considered an institution of social control but how do you classify it? There are peer dynamics, teacher
expectations, etc. and there are many diverse things related to education that don’t slot easily into informal and formal social control.
Informal vs. Formal
Informal: Rules through interaction
Formal: Laws and policies
Proactive vs. Reactive
Proactive: More preventative measures (MADD campaigns)
Reactive: Responses (Social Policies)
They provide the same dilemma as informal and social control in that things aren’t always easy to stream into one or the other category.
Regulations typically walk the proactive reactive line.
Hard-edge vs. Soft-edge
Hard Edge: is more formal
Soft-Edge: Often normalized and more informal.
Donald Black: The Social Structure of Right and Wrong
A sociology of social control
-He is a good way of trying to get your head around thinking sociologically about what social control looks like. He looks at the scientific study
of social control. He thinks you can predict SC and that you can understand it through the rules of sociology. He is famous for thinking about
crime as a type of social control. So murder (ex) could be a version of someone trying to control someone else’s behaviour.
He codifies this form. Unilateral (self-harm), and bilateral (a dual). Trilateral (another party involved like courts, polic