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Means of social control

The means by which individuals are induced or compelled to conform to the usages and life values of the group are so numerous and varied that a classification is not possible.E.A Ross has described a number of means that have been used by social groups throughout the hu-man history to keep individuals under control. The important among them are public opin-ion, law, custom, religion, morality, personality, folkways and mores. E.C Hayes distinguished between control by sanctions and control by suggestion and imita-tion. According to him, education is the most effective means of control and the family is the most significant agency.

Karl Mannheim distinguished between direct means of social control and indirect means of social control.

Luther L Bernard distinguished between unconscious and conscious means of control.The most important among the unconscious means of control are custom, tradition and conven-tion. The conscious means of control are those which have been consciously developed and employed by leaders of all types. According to him conscious means of control are more ef-fective than unconscious ones though the influence of the latter also is quite marked. He also talked about exploitative and constructive methods of social control. Exploitative means are such as punishment, reprisals, intimidation, censorship and repression. Among the constructive means are included revolution, custom, law, education and social reform, on-violent coercion and belief in supernatural forces.

Some sociologists have classified the social control into informal and formal means.Sympathy, sociability, resentment, the sense of justice, public opinion, folkways and mores are some of the informal means of social control. They are very powerful in primary social groups where interaction is on a personal basis. The effectiveness of the informal means of control though somewhat lessened in modern large communities wherein con-tacts tend to be impersonal may still be observed in small villages. In modern times the in-formal methods have given place to formal ones such as laws, education, coercion and codes.

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