definition of social control

When we speak of social control, we refer to the group of norms and regulations of different kinds that are explicitly or implicitly established by a society to maintain the order of individuals and allow the development of an organized and controlled standard of living. Social control can be present in different ways, both through formal and informal practices, through socially accepted regulations and also through coercion of the same individual on himself.

The objective of social control is to maintain social groups within a formally accepted order in such a way that a number of basic regulations are respected that contribute to generating organized and non-conflictive lifestyles. In this sense, the most clearly visible regulations regarding the idea of ​​social control are those that are expressed through laws, statutes and formal regulations that all members of a society must comply with in the same way. These measures are created and accepted by the whole of society since they are explicitly established. Explicit social control can also be related to political interests and the cancellation of political expressions of various groups in society, although such situations can fall within the framework of the implicit on certain occasions.

However, social control is also exercised through informal methods that do not need to be made explicit and that sometimes have much more force than formal methods. Here we must mention the social control exercised by religions, social hierarchies, the media and propaganda, moral norms and others. All this set of informal social control norms seek to generate in the individual the acquisition of socially approved behaviors on a voluntary basis. Often times, these implicit norms of social control may not be entirely ethical, especially when it comes to propaganda and the power of certain advertising messages.

Finally, social control is also exercised from the individual himself and it is here where institutions such as the family and religion have special weight. These self-imposed norms of social control have to do strongly with the censorship of certain attitudes and thoughts and in extreme cases can result in the development of excessively repressive and self-censoring personalities.