Law is the most important formal means of social control. Early societies depended upon informal means of social control but when societies grew in size and complexity they were compelled to formulate rules and regulations which define the required types of behavior and specify the penalties to be imposed upon those who violate them. Law is a body of rules enacted by legally authorized bodies and enforced by authorized agencies. It defines clearly rights, duties as well as the punishments for their violation. The modern societies are large in size. Their structure is complex consisting of a number of groups, organizations, institu-tions and vested interests. Informal means of social control are no longer sufficient to main-tain social order and harmony.
In modern society relationships are of secondary nature. Security of life and property as well as the systematic ordering of relationships make formalization of rules necessary. Law pre-scribes uniform norms and penalties throughout a social system.What were in mores and customs earlier has now been formalized into a body of law. Law prohibits certain actions for example anti-touchability act prohibits untouchability in any form and a person practis-ing untouchability is liable to punishment. Prohibition act forbids drinking at public places. In this way law exercises a powerful influence upon the behavior of people in modern socie-ties.