Chapter 8: Deviance and Social


What is Social Control?

Each group, culture, subculture, etc., has a system of norms and values

Social control is the means of instilling said values within a certain group

Where does social control come from when we are young?


What are some other obvious means of social control?






We follow social norms without even thinking



Even a situation like elevators

This reflects our socialization

Why do we follow these norms?

The fear of being punished or sanctioned

There are formal and informal sanctions


Jail time or fines

Effectiveness of Social Control: Mixed


Why can social control be difficult?

People are always trying to tell you to do the opposite

Functionalists believe social norms are key to the survival of a society

Rule breaking will end us all

Conflict theorists believe that it is needed for a society to grow and expand

We are founded on resisting social control

What other issues has the United States attacked with resistance to social control?


Women’s suffrage

Civil rights

Conformity and Obedience

Social control functions at group levels and societal levels

Peers and authority figures have some “control” over us

There is a difference in how it happens

Conformity is going along with peers to fit in

Who do we conform to?

Peer pressure can grow from conformity

Obedience is compliance with authority

Who do we obey?

Conformity and Prejudice

We often seek to conform to common opinions

This can lead to prejudice and racism

How did the Nazis get started?

Hearing one person say something can make you think and feel the same way

Not unlike opinion leaders

A study was conducted in 1991 with racism at Smith


They found the students’ responses mirrored the opinions of the other survey takers

Proved that in a small group conformity can influence people’s outward attitudes

Obedience and One Messed Up Study

Stanley Milgram conducted a study starting in 1961

(published in 1963 and later in 1975)

Got the idea from the obedient nature of the Nazi

Party in Germany

In a way he wanted to examine who should be held responsible for what happened

The study was conducted at Yale University

Subjects included people from all walks of life: engineers, teachers, laborers

He told those involved he was researching the

“effects of punishment on learning”

How Did It Work?

There were three roles: experimenter, teacher, learner

Learner and experimenter were in on the study

The teacher is the one being studied

The learner would be strapped into what appeared to be an electric device

Teacher would have control of the device with varying levels of electricity

Teacher was shocked to prove the realness

The experiment was “rigged”

Learner would give incorrect answers and would respond to the shocks in increasingly vocal ways

If the teacher wished to stop they would be told:

“The experiment requires that you continue”

“You have no other choice: you must go on”

What Were the Results?

In one word, kind of messed up

Prior to the study many social scientists believed only a small number of people would administer shocks to complete strangers

Study found quite the opposite

Nearly 2/3rds of the “teachers” were obedient

They obeyed the “experimenter” because he was an authority figure

The “experimenter” was a scientist in a lab coat

We often obey people we don’t know because of a uniform or a title


In the study they viewed themselves as carrying out their duty

Study has come under criticism as many feel it was psychologically damaging to the “teacher” and immoral

Milgram went on to state that “if a system of death camps were set up in the United States…one would be able to find personnel in any medium sized American town”

Types of Informal Control

Informal social control can be good or bad

Smiling, laughter

Ridicule, sideways look

These are casual ways of enforcing our norms

In the United States we view spanking and striking our children as acceptable

Called corporal punishment

Some sociologists warn this can cause more violence later in the child's life and aggressive behavior

Despite this, in 1998, almost 60% of pediatricians advocate the use of corporal punishment

Types of Formal Control

Formal control comes from authority figures

Lets review: Who are they?

In some ways it is a last resort if socialization and informal sanctions have failed

Which punishment is becoming the most common?

Six to seven million adults are either in jail, on parole, or on probation

One in thirty adults

How severe should punishments be?

Varies from country to country

Changes in Social Control

What event caused changes in social control?

Post 9/11 we have ramped up social control at airports and government buildings

Informal controls have changed as well

It is your patriotic duty to report things that look out of the ordinary now

Some of the increases in control may not be legal

Thank you, Patriot Act

FBI can pry into your life without a warrant

School records

Library records

Health records

Pretty much whatever they want

What group is negatively stereotyped as a result?

Laws and Society

Some norms or values are so important that we make them into laws

A law is a governmental social control

Laws govern just about every aspect of life

Laws against murder

Laws regulating hunting

Laws regulating taxes and corporations

Lawmaking is a social process

Laws were originally passed down from generation to generation

Now it reflects an ever-changing society

Right and wrong can change as well as the punishments for them

Laws are debated almost constantly

Prohibition and the 55-mph speed limit failed