Social Control versus Self-Control!
Social Control from without:
Self-control from within. Social control differs from self-control in as much as the latter is from within while the former is from without. When an individual controls himself, his impulses not because of certain coercion exercised by some other individual or group, but because of his own will and self-realization he is said to have practised self-control.
It is the individual’s own attempt to guide his own behaviour in accord with some previously developed ideal, goal or purpose. One may exercise self-control either for one’s own gain or for others’ gain. When A gives up drinking because it affected his health, he exercises self-control for his own gain, but if he gives it up because his family is not financially sound, he has exercised self-control for the gain of the family.
Similarly, if the people begin to wear khadi in order to promote the interests of rural weavers, they may be said to have practised self-control for the welfare of the group. The essence of self-control is that it is always the result of one’s own inner realization or feeling little influenced by others’ authority. If it is not so it will be transitory and will last so long as one is under the influence of others. But if self-control is out of one’s own realization, it will be permanent and real.
Social Control and Socialization:
Social control and socialization are closely related to each other. Social control is a part of socialization. During the process of socialization the process of social control also is in operation. Through socialization social control becomes ipso-facto effective. As seen earlier, man from birth to death is undergoing the process of socialization and his behaviour is being controlled in numerous ways.
The customs regulate the birth and death ceremonies. The diet, the dress, the manner of speech, the marriage, the education and a host of other matters are controlled by customs. In order to maintain the social order, there are definite procedures in society.
These customs and procedures become a part of man’s life and man gets adjusted to the society. As a matter of fact, societies depend heavily upon effective socialization to internalize social norms and values as the individual’s guides and motives to action. Through socialization societies aim to control the behaviour of its members unconsciously.
Further, the various agencies of socialization like family, state, school, club, neighbourhood etc. are also the agencies of social control. They exercise regulatory influence over the behaviour of the individual.
The Development of the Concept of Social Control:
Every society has tried to control the behaviour of its members. In the earliest and primitive society social control existed as a powerful force in organising socio-cultural behaviour. From birth to death man is surrounded by social control of which he may even be unaware.
However, it is only recently that the concept of social control has received any formal statement, although it is foreshadowed in Plato’s Republic’,(369 B.C.) and in Comte’s ‘Positive Philosophy’, (1830-42). Lester F. Ward in his book ‘Dynamic Sociology’ (1883), greatly clarified the concept.
It was in 1894 that the term ‘social control’ was used for the first time by Small and Vincent. While discussing the effect of authority upon social behaviour these authors in their book ‘Introduction to the Study of Society’ conclude, ‘The reaction of public opinion upon authority makes social control a most delicate and difficult task.” In the same year E.A. Ross became interested in discovering “the linchpins which hold society together”, and “developed the germs” of the first book in this field.
This article appeared in 1901 under the name ‘Social Control’ wherein Ross examined fully die concept of social control. His article is a pioneer work in the study of ‘Social control”. He laid emphasis on “social instincts—sympathy, sociability, and a sense of justice, and the means by which the group seeks to exert pressure upon the individual to make him adhere to the folkways and mores.” He set down ‘thirty-five distinct means by which society controls its members”. In his treatment he acknowledged his debt to L.F. Ward.
In the 1930’s Ross developed the concept of super-social control by which he meant the domination over society by scheming individuals who, through propaganda, lobbying, and/or coercive methods compel society to do their bidding.
In 1902 appeared Cooley’s “Human Nature and the Social Order”, which has been regarded as an admirable supplement to the volume of Ross. He laid emphasis on the effect of group pressure upon the personality of individual and the necessity for studying a person’s life history in order to understand his behaviour. “In particular his discussion of the ‘looking-glass self and the social origins of the conscience have been far-reaching in leading others to study the process of socialization and the interaction between the individual and his group.” While Ross was concerned with studying the mechanism of social control, Cooley was interested in studying the effects of social control.
In 1906 was published William Graham Sumner’s ‘Folkways’. In this book which has been called “the Old Testament of the sociologist”, Sumner laid emphasis on how folkways and institutions limit the behaviour of individuals. To quote him, ‘The mores can make anything right and prevent condemnation of anything.” According to him, ‘social behaviour cannot be understood without a study of the folkways and mores which determine whether society will encourage or inhibit any specific item of behaviour’.
The three then are the main thinkers who made important contributions towards developing the concept of ‘social control’ and understanding its nature and effects. The later writers have made little changes in the essentials of the concept, though variations in emphasis have been there.
Thus one group of thinkers following Ross discusses the number and complexity of the means by which the agents of social control attain uniformity of social behaviour. The other group following Cooley devotes their efforts to explaining the effects of social control upon the development of personality. The third group following Sumner devotes itself more to the rules and agencies that organize human behaviour into patterns. Each group has made important contribution to the concept of “social control”