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The Purposes of Social Control

The study of social control is an important aspect of sociology. It is a significant field of study. It is a unifying factor in the study of human behavior. According to Kimball Young the aims of social control are to bring about conformity, solidarity and continuity of particular group or society. These aims are good but most individuals who endeavor to control their fellow men show little perspective in their efforts. They want that others should accept the modes of conduct which they themselves prefer. This preference may be based on any fac-tor-experience derived in life, desire to exploit others for one's own gain, political, personal or economic.

Some reformers and leaders try to conceal their motives by good reasons in the form of al-truistic rationalization. A newspaper advertisement that offer discount to those who make purchases by a particular date is an example of such rationalizations. It is difficult to know and classify the motives of the agents of social control.


The classification of the motives or purposes of the agents of social control –

  1. Exploitative, motivated by self interest.
  2. Regulative based upon habit and the desire for behavior of the customary types
  3. Creative or constructive based on social benefit

The results of social control are not always beneficial to society or to the individual. Even social control for constructive purposes may confuse the public and end in inactivity. Efforts to regulate behavior in accordance to custom may cause cultural lag, mental conflict and emotional instability.