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Informal Social Control and Its Importance and Complexity (Essay Sample)
Discussing Informal Social Control : Its Importance and Complexity
Discussing Informal Social Control : Its Importance and Complexity
Informal Social Control is one of the most discussed and critically argued topics of Social Science and more particularly, of Social Control. It has been severely discussed, criticized and has gone through several post-mortems for ages. Numerous arguments and theories have been presented by scholars, criminologists, and sociologists on whether the informal social control is a better option than its formal counterpart or not, what level of complexity it has and what sort of problems it faces. So, the discussion on the importance and the complex nature of informal social control is very much contextually valid while keeping in mind the social system and its problems, that can be noticed in recent times, which persisted from ages past.
Informal social control mainly deals with the theory of socialization. It is known by and accepted by everyone that whenever an individual is born, he is blessed with enormous and varied behavioral potentialities right from the dawn of his journey on earth. But he has to confine his behavioral approaches and, furthermore he has to develop actual behavior which is acceptable by group standards inside the society. Informal social control plays its vital role in such socialization. It sets the benchmarks for actual behavior and enforces internalization of norms and values that are acceptable inside the systematically structured foundation of the society. It rewards or punishes (punishment in the sense of criticizing certain behaviors in a varied way) people for their behavioral approaches on the grounds of its social acceptability CITATION Sam86 \l 1033 (Sampson, 1986). Informal social control varies according to demographic specifications, geological specifications, from one individual to another, from one group to another and from one social structure to another. It applies to informal norms of behavior as set by itself and includes things like ridicule, sarcasm disapproving looks, shame, criticism etc.
Informal social control plays a significant and very effective role on individuals because it helps to internalize social values, and thus the values become an integral part of an individual's personality and behavioral approaches. It helps to guide an individual. Norms related to social ethics are enforced somewhat strictly. For example, if you're talking to or discussing something with a person who is much older than you, you have to maintain a decent behavior, respecting approach and, humble and polite tone while communicating with the person. Social informal control does not approve and rather firmly criticizes any type of audacity or indecent behavior in such issues. The norms are the backbone for creating a healthy and stable society where decency and respectable approaches have to be maintained by each and every member of it CITATION Chr12 \l 1033 (Chris, 2012). This addresses the foundational ethical values which determine the healthy and admirable social understanding that leads to making the life comfortable and respectable for all individuals irrespective of their backgrounds. Rewards and punishments are determined for each individual and he has to undergo through those according to his personality and behavior. For instance, in a corporate meeting, if anyone wears a dress that is not accepted according to the norms of that particular social gathering, he is bound to be ridiculed. And then it becomes obvious that his behavior will immediately be controlled by shame. Similarly, if one raises his voice and addresses any corrupt structure of a particular society, he is admired by the majority of individuals. Informal control helps an individual to adopt the idea that committing a crime is not approved by society and that he will cause harm to himself and to the whole society including people he loves by committing a crime. Neighbors and parents keep a close eye on the activities of the children so that those children opt out of obtaining some undesired qualities which can lead them to be noted as 'offenders' in the society CITATION Geo25 \l 1033 (Mead, 1925). Thus, through several ways, informal control can play a significant role to contain crime rates to a low level.
But, informal social control has problems of its own. There are serious issues and those have to be addressed regularly. Arguments have been presented on the facts and on influencing factors that supposedly control the system of informal social control. Whereas a scholar like Barbara D. Warner holds the view that social ties have great importance and influence on the matter of controlling crime rates and domestic/non-domestic violence; an established social scientist like Robert J. Sampson (1986) writes that investigation of communities and crime fail to test a social control model and concentrate instead on social stratification. Varied arguments have been presented and we have to review and address them critically. Informal social control binds people together by enforcing the values of attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. But where it fails, grave consequences are experienced. Sociologists hold the belief that, informal social control is much inferior and is of lesser significance than its formal counterpart. It is hard to demonstrate, analyze, discuss and examine various aspects of informal social control because it deals with multiculturalism, that means norms and regulations may vary according to varied cultures CITATION Ron01 \l 1033 (Weitzer, 2001). But there are constant facts that have great influence over it. A study on 411 working individuals was conducted by Farrington and West, and the outcome was amazing and concerning. The result of the study concluded that it is more likely that offenders would belong to such families with poor parents or lone-parent. So this is one fact where all fundamental propositions of informal social control fail. Such failures are not only limited to family backgrounds in accordance to parent-type, but there are other key factors like community, economic backgrounds, race and other factors. Thinkers like Durkheim refers to the community as a major factor in informal social control. The theory suggests that children, belonging to the underprivileged and socially deprived underclass community, are brought up with such notion and understanding that have no or very little concern about social values. Communities with social disruption are mainly characterized by their low rate of participation in social affairs. Here informal social control becomes ineffective. Moreover, theorists like Noam Chomsky have argued that informal control is corrupted by biased media. Powerful politicians, businessmen, other ideological, economic and religious lobbyists tend to use the modern media to influence public opinion through conveying opinions of their own, thus corrupting the informal social control.
Criminologists have presented varied views on the importance and problems of informal social control. Many of them have argued that mobility, poverty, and heterogeneity undermine neighborhood connections and social links, which majorly contributes to the breakdown of informal social control resulting in the increase of crime rates inside society. The presence of informal social control can help to contain crime to some extent, but the absence of it results in the negative. Criminologists suggest that factors related to economic backgrounds have a key role to play in this matter. Studies have been conducted on several families in accordance with economic standards. The results shows very clearly that people belonging to poor economic backgrounds often lose their faith in the structure of the social system, and then they tend to involve in criminal activities for either having a good life in future days (only in the sense of good economic status) or to express their anger on the system by being an outlaw CITATION Mar78 \l 1033 (Marx & Engels, 1978). Studies also show that, in contrast to people living in white communities, people belonging to black communities are often found to be the offenders in cases of homicide or robberies. Thus, race factor also plays a vital role. It has often been suggested that people commit a crime either for family failure or for the failure of the society. Informal social control cannot effectively influence such factors. This is why most criminologists find formal control as the more convenient and effective option than the informal one.
For ages, various policies have been suggested to strengthen informal control. Early efforts were targeted to mobilize a w...
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