Ch 6 - Social Control
Social control - mechanisms to ensure conformity
Ideological social control - attempt to manipulate the consciousness of citizens so they accept the ruling
ideology and refuse to be moved by competing ideologies. 3 ways:
Socialization of youth
Frontal attacks on competing ideologies by authority figures
Propaganda efforts by political authorities
Want children to succeed; success measured also by whether child fits in society
Indoctrinate pupils about work attitudes, respect for authority, patriotism
Textbooks biased in direction authorities want to perpetuate.
Schools should turn out individuals with ability to think for themselves instead.
Religion - provides guidelines for behaviour and punishments for disobedience
Established religion in U.S. tends to reinforce status quo
Teach that people should accept an imperfect society because they are born sinners
Persuades people to accept rather than change an unjust system
They will be rewarded in the next life
Reinforce conforming attitudes and behaviours
Nat’l pride, militaristic pageantry. Can serve as opiate of the masses (Ch 3)
Myth of upward mobility. Reinforce U.S. values among participants, etc.
Reinforce values and norms of society; affect how viewers perceive and interpret events
Political speeches, books, legislation
Require course content in schools
Manipulate people into believing their security is threatened by an enemy
Few of the downtrodden question the legitimacy of political and economic system
Direct social control - attempts to punish or neutralize (render powerless) organizations or individuals
who deviate from society’s norms.
Deviant targets: poor, mentally ill, criminals, political dissidents
Piven and Cloward - public assistance programs defuse social unrest.
prevent questioning of legitimacy of the system
Great Depression: government remained aloof until there was political disorder
contraction/abolishment of public assistance programs when stability restored
Great Recession: increasing gap between haves and have-nots, fiscal crisis reduced
public assistance. Atest for this theory - if outrage / social movements occur,
welfare programs to aid poor will become more generous
Science and Medicine -
Psychologists and psychotherapists - aid people who do not follow expectations of society Labelling of mental illness → system of social control
National Violence Initiative proposal → identify violent children and prescribe drug therapy,
Eugenics - improvement of human race through control of hereditary factors
1907-1970s - 70,000 people sterilized for abnormalities
Potential will increase through biotechnology; parents can check kids for defective
genes. Will people be making genetic improvements?
Labeling of chronic offenders via physical characteristics → can people be punished
for potential crimes? What are negative effects of being labeled
How legitimate is a government in a democracy to stifle dissent? Unclear.
American tradition and values affirm that dissent is appropriate, but politics contradict:
For social order to prevail, society needs to ensure existing power relationships
maintained over time
Well-off in society benefit from existing power arrangements; use their influence to
encourage repression of challenges to government
Law enactment and law enforcements