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Sociological Theory and Social Control
Author(s): Morris Janowitz
Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 81, No. 1 (Jul., 1975), pp. 82-108
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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Sociological Theory and Social Control1
MorrisJanowitz
University
of Chicago
In theoriginsofsociology,
"socialcontrol"servedas a centralconcept
both for relatingsociologyto social philosophyand for analyzing
to the capacityof a
totalsocieties.In its classicalsense,it referred
social groupto regulateitself.The conceptsupplieda basis forintegrationof theoryand researchuntilthe 1930s.Whilethe traditional
to
usage of social controlhas persisted,the termhas been redefined
mean eithersocializationor social repression.Either the classical
meaningmustbe utilizedor a new termmustbe developedto refer
self-regulation
if theoryand
to thecapacityof social groupsto effect
underadvancedindustrialresearchare to deal withmacrosociology
ism.
discipline,theidea of social
In theemergence
ofsociologyas an intellectual
controlwas a centralconceptfor analyzingsocial organizationand the
thetermdealtwitha generic
development
of industrialsociety.Originally,
basis for a sociological
aspect of societyand servedas a comprehensive
of the social order.In fact,it was one intellectualdevice for
examination
orientalinkingsociologicalanalysisto thehumanvaluesand philosophical
in "social progress"
interested
tionsemployedby somepioneersociologists
and the reductionof irrationality
in social behavior.In the most fundamentalterms,"social control"referredto the capacity of a societyto
regulateitself accordingto desired principlesand values. Sociological
analysishas the task of exploringthe conditionsand variableslikely to
make thisgoal attainable.
In thispaper,I shall seek firstto set forththe intellectualparameters
in order
in the conceptof social controlas it was originallyformulated
to serveas the basis fora broad sociologicalframeof reference.
Then I
shall examinethe earlyusage and diffusion
of the concept.Third,I shall
examinethe efforts,
its meaninginto
startingin the 1930s, to transform
in this
the narrowernotionof the processesof developingconformity;
connection,it is interestingto probe the reasons for this attemptto
transform
themeaningof social control.Finally,I shall examinethe persistenceof the classicusage of the conceptby selectedsociologistsduring
the periodsince 1945 and therebyassess its relevanceforcontemporary
1 This paper is a section of a larger study, "Macrosociology and Social Control."
I am indebted to the Russell Sage Foundation, New York City, for a generous
grant in support of this work.
82
AJS Volume 81 Number 1
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
sociologyand foranalyzingthe crisisof politicallegitimacyin advanced
institutions.
industrialsocietieswithparliamentary
Because some sociologistshave come to definesocial controlas the
sociologicaltheoryand analysis have
social psychologyof conformity,
of relatingthe
contributes
to the difficulty
This typeof thinking
suffered.
to othersocial sciencedisciplinesas well as to social
sociologicalenterprise
practiceand social policy.Either
philosophyand to issuesof professional
a new termhad to be inventedor the earliermeaninghad to be reconstituted.I have chosen to retracethe intellectualhistoryand usage of
social control,sinceI believethatthe conceptin its originalmeaningcan
bodiesof empiricaldata withsociologicaltheory,to codify
helpto integrate
and to handlequestionsof social values in sociological
researchfindings,
is thata closeexamination
analysis.Moreover,one ofmycentralarguments
historyof theidea of social controlrevealsthat,despite
of theintellectual
the constriction
of its originalmeaningin some quarters,its broad and
persistentvitalityfor the studyof
genericmeaninghas had a strikingly
thesocial order.
In 1925, GeorgeHerbertMead wrotein the InternationalJournalof
Ethics that"social controldepends,then,upon the degreeto whichindividualsin societyare able to assumeattitudesof otherswho are involved
withthemin commonendeavors"(Mead 1925). He was merelyarticulating, in his own conceptualterms,a widespreadorientationin American
sociologythat had already been reflectedin the firstvolume of the
AmericanJournalofSociologyin 1896.ThereGeorgeVincent,a sociologist
who still feltat ease with the languageof social philosophy,offeredthe
social forcesso as to
formulation:
"Social controlis the art of combining
Social controlhas
an
490).
ideal"
(p.
toward
a
trend
at
least
givesociety
a complexset
for
to
as
a
shorthand
notation
servedand continues serve
a
It has been "sensitizing
concept,"in the termiof viewsand viewpoints.
in thatof Robert
orientation,"
nologyof HerbertBlumer,or a "theoretical
has
been directlylinked to the
K. Merton. Moreover,social control
focuson the
studyof total societies.It has stood for a comprehensive
and a concernwhichhas cometo be called "macrosociology."
nation-state
INTELLECTUAL
PARAMETERS
in the idea of social controlderivesfroma
The intellectualinvestment
of
self-interest
theories.Social controlhas been an
economic
rejection
that the individualisticpursuitof
outlook
held
that
expressionof the
for
can account
neithercollectivesocial behavior
economicself-interest
nor the existenceof a social orderand does not supplyan adequate basis
for the achievementof ethicalgoals. Much of the writingabout social
to accept the relevance
controlmustbe understoodas sociologists'efforts
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AmericanJournalof Sociology
of marginal-utility
butat thesame timeto identify
thelimitations
analysis.
In formalterms,one can thinkof social organization,
thesubjectmatter
of sociology,as thepatternsof influencein a populationof social groups.
Social control,therefore,
is not to be conceivedas beingthe same as social
organization;it is insteada perspectivewhichfocuseson the capacityof
a socialorganization
to regulateitself;and thiscapacitygenerallyimpliesa
set of goals ratherthana singlegoal. Social controlis a perspective
which,
whilecommitted
to rigoroushypothesis
testing,requiresthe explicationof
a value position.
Social controlwas not originallyand subsequentlyhas not been necessarily the expressionof a conservativepolitical outlook. Many early
Americansociologistswho used the termwerereligioussocialists;others
wereadherents
ofa "progressive"
view.It is moreto thepointto emphasize
that theseearly formulations
parallelsociologists'contemporary
interests
in "value maximization."While social controlinvolvesthe capacity of
constituent
groupsin a societyto behavein termsof theiracknowledged
moraland collectivegoals,it does not implyculturalrelativism.
The term
has continuity
becausesocialcontrolcan be conceivedas restingon a value
commitment
to at least to two elements:the reductionof coercion,althoughit recognizesthe irreducibleelementsof coercionin a legitimate
systemof authority,and the eliminationof human misery,althoughit
recognizesthe persistenceof some degreeof inequality.One should also
mentiona thirdelement:a commitment
to procedures
of redefining
societal
goals in orderto enhancethe role of rationality,
althoughthis may be
consideredinherentin the firsttwo.
The oppositeof social controlcan be thoughtof as coercivecontrol,that
is, the social organizationof a societywhichrestspredominantly
and essentiallyon force-the threatand theuse of force.Of course,even in the
mostrepressive
totalitarian
nation-state
theagentsof repression
are limited
in scope by someprimitive,
if unstable,set of norms.However,and more
pertinent
to theissue at hand,any social order,includinga societywitha
relativelyeffective
systemof social control,will requirean elementof
coercion,butpresumably
a limitedone circumscribed
by a systemof legitimatenorms.2
Thereis no doubtthatearlysociologists
in theUnitedStateswerevague
about theirsocial goals and theirnotionsof the "ideal." Frequently,the
ideal theyoffered
was no betterdefinedthanas thespontaneously
emergent
and spontaneously
acceptedconsensus.At times,theywereno morespecific
2 Personal control is the psychologicaland personalitycounterpartof social control.
The formerfocuses on a person's capacity to channel his energiesand to satisfyhis
needs while minimizingdisruption and damage to himself or others. It implies
mastery over one's psychologicalenvironmentand encompasses those psychological
conditionsthat enhance rationality(Bettelheimand Janowitz 1964).
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
thanto assertthattheideal referred
to normsthatwererationallyaccepted
and internationalized
in contrastwiththe conditionsof coercivecontrols.
Sociologistshave becomemuch morespecificabout the goals theywish
to see maximizedand thereforefar morepreciseabout the analysisof
different
patternsand mechanisms
of social control.
Obviously,thereare a varietyof typesand mechanisms
of social control.
Each is the resultof particularantecedentvariablesand, in turn,each
formhas a different
impacton social behavior.The taskof empiricalsocial
researchis to investigatethe formsand consequencesof social control.In
essence,thismeansansweringthe hypothetical
question,Whichformsof
social controlare most effective,
that is, whichenable a social groupto
regulateitselfin termsof a set of legitimatemoralprinciplesand resultin
the reductionof coercivecontrol?3
This perspective
explicitlynegatesthe assertionthatsocial organization
per se repressespersonality,social creativity,and collectiveproblem
solving.In the simplestterms,social controlis not the achievementof
collectivestability.The vital residueof the classical standpointis that
socialcontrolorganizesthecleavages,strains,and tensionsof any societypeasant,industrial,or advanced industrial.The problemis whetherthe
processesof socialcontrolare able to maintainthesocial orderwhiletransformation
and social changetake place. There is no questionthat,from
thispointof view,thereis a parallelbetweensocial controland stability
or repression.
The argument
thatis relevanthereis just theopposite:social
control,to theextentthatit is effective,
"motivates"social groups.All this
seemspainfullyobvious; but one purposeof a theoretical
orientation
is to
make theobviousinescapable.
Explorationof theidea of socialcontrolrequiresone to recognizethatits
emergencewas part of a continuingcritiqueof and responseto the
Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
model. Under the influenceof philosophical
pragmatism
and the impactof empiricalresearch,the dichotomouscategoriesof Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
werefoundto be both oversimplified
and inadequate(Tonnies 1887). I speak not onlyof FerdinandTonnies's
exposition
butalso of thestreamofparallelor relatedwriters.
Theseinclude
Henry Maine (status and contract),1tmileDurkheim(mechanicaland
organic solidarity), Charles Horton Cooley (primary and secondary
groups),RobertRedfield(folk cultureand urban culture),Louis Wirth
(urbanismas a way of life), Ralph Linton (ascriptionand achievement),
and Talcott Parsons (patternvariables) (Maine 1861; Durkheim1893;
Cooley 1909; Redfield1947; Wirth1938; Linton1936; Parsons1951).
3 In the contemporaryperiod, Amitai Etzioni definescontrol in a fashion similar to
the classic orientationfound in social control. "Control-the process of specifying
preferredstates of affairsand revisingongoing processesto reduce the distance from
thesepreferredstates." His theoreticalmodel is derivedfromcybernetics(1968, p. 668).
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have had a powerful
The convergingelementsof these formulations
impacton sociologicaltheoryand analysis.At the same time,thereis a
ofthewritings
ofTonniesand thosewhohave followed
tradition
ofcriticism
his formulations
that is almost as long standingand enduringas the
model itself.Amongthe Europeansociologists
Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
are GeorgSimmel(1922),
whohave dissentedfromTonnies'sorientation
HermanSchmalenbach(1961), Theodor Geiger(1926, 1963), and Rene
Koenig (1955). The accumulatedempiricalevidencefromanthropological
indicatesthatpeasant
and sociologicalsourceswitha historicalperspective
entities,as T,unniesused the term.
societiesare not whollyGemeinschaft
The inabilityof themodelto accountforthevarietyof solidarycollectivitiesthatemergein advancedindustrialsocietiesis equallynoteworthy.
approachis not
Much of the criticism
of the Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
Instead,
an effort
to rejectits centralconcernwithsocietaltransformation.4
it is an attemptto recasttheapproachto makeit effectively
applicableto
theanalysisof the alternativehistoricalpathsby whichsocietieshave beto think
if notimpossible,
It is difficult,
comeurbanizedand industrialized.
of the emergenceof modernsocietyin termsof an "evolutionary"transinto"society"thatis the resultof a limited
formation
from"community"
numberof basic variablesand a linearmodelof social changeand societal
Thus, the criticismhas had the consequenceof freeing
transformation.
its conceptual
and refashioning
themodelfromits historicalmythography
dimensions
and variablesinto testablehypotheses.
and elaboAs a result,thenotionof social controlhas been formulated
change
to
problems
of
social
ratedto providea moreadequate approach
and socialorder.Sociologicaltheoriesof thesocialordertherebyhave come
to rejecttheassertionthat the Gemeinschaft
aspectsof societalstructure
are only residuesof some previousstage of social organizationwhile the
Gesellschaftdimensionsconstitutethe realityof industrialand urban
society.Instead,social organizationencompasses,at any givenhistorical
and
moment,essentialand elaborated elementsof both Gemeinschaft
Gesellschaft
in varyingscope,intensity,
and consequence.The analysisof
social controlis an analysisof the interplayof thosevariableswhichcan
attributes.
Moreover,the
and Gesellschaft
be relatedto bothGemeinschaft
conceptof social controlis directlylinkedto the notionof voluntaristic
action, to articulatedhuman purposeand actions-that is, to various
schemesof means and ends. Thereforeit is designedto avoid the over4 Robert A. Nisbet is representativeof those sociological theoristswho are aware of
the centralityof the concepts of Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
in contemporaryresearch
and emphasize the necessityof departing from the original mechanisticand linear
model of change. He writes,"A relationshipthat begins as a Gesellschafttype may
in time become increasinglycharacterizedby Gemeinschaftrelationshipsamong members" (1970, p. 107).
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
deterministic
sociologywhichhas cometo be inherent
in theGemeinschaftGesellschaft
model.Social controlpresentsa formatof influence
based on
the notionof interactionand mutual (two-way) relationsamong social
groups.To speak of mutualinfluenceis hardlyto deny the elementsof
inequalityand imbalancein social relations.
Sociologistswho have used the conceptof social controlhave in effect
beenfollowing
theintellectual
lead of AugusteComte,forwhomthecentral
problemof sociologicalanalysiswas the impactof industrialization
on the
social orderand the consequencesof the resultingindividualismon the
moralorder.Obviously,the classic writers,includingKarl Marx, Rmile
Durkheim,and Max Weber,addressedthemselvesto the issues Comte
raised. One can translatemuchof the corpusof sociologicalwritingon
macrosociology
into the languageof the social controlframework,
but to
do so wouldobscureratherthanclarifytheissuesinvolved.It is preferable
to focus directlyon that distinctsociologicalstreamwhich in varying
degreemakesexplicituse of the idea of social control.Thoughmainlyan
Americanstream,it is influenced
by and in turnhas influenced
European
thoughtand research.It presentsbotha unityand a continuing
elaboration.
First,theoriginalwritersand,in time,thesubsequentones as well have
manifested
a philosophical
outlookconcernedwiththelimitsof rationality
in pursuingsocial and moralaims.Theiroutlookhas reflected
pragmatism
in themajorityof thewriters,
but forsomeit also has includedaspectsof
phenomenology.
An essentialelementof thisorientation
has beentherejectionor,rather,theavoidanceof eitheridealismor materialism.
Second,the adherentsof social controlhave been concernedwith informal,face-to-face
relationsas aspects of social structure.In contemporarylanguage,theyhave been preoccupiedwiththe interfacebetween
micro-and macroanalysis.
Third,the styleof thesesociologistshas been one of persistentconcern
withempiricalexploration
of theirideas. Theyhave beenself-critical
about
appropriateempiricaltechniques,continuallyin search of various types
of documentation
and data, and fullyawareof thecomplexities
and elusive
characterof proofin sociology.
Therefore
thereis a directlineofintellectual
continuity
fromtheearliest
efforts
to formulate
the componentelementsof social controlto its usage
by contemporary
researchsociologistsawareof its intellectualbackground
and theoretical
purpose.The concepthardlyimpliesthatthesubjectmatter
of sociologyis the "adjustment"of men to existingsocial reality;on the
sinceits earlyuse, the thrustof thisstreamof sociologicaldiscontrary,
coursehas been to focuson efforts
of mento realizetheircollectivegoals.
The continuity
betweenthe earlywriterson social controland particular
in contemporary
efforts
researchis manifested
in such worksas the penetratingresearchon juveniledelinquencyby AlbertJ. Reiss, Jr. (1951).
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his operationalmeasuresin termsof social control,he
Conceptualizing
refersto it as "the abilityof social groupsor institutions
to make norms
or ruleseffective."
Likewise,there is a continuitybetweenthe early analysis of social
controlthat includedthe study of social and political movements-the
processesof revolution,
protest,and institution
building-as describedin
interest
the seminalstudyby LyfordEdwards (1927) and contemporary
in collectivebehavior.5Thus, the theoreticaland empiricaltasks of sociologistswho use the social controlorientation
have been and continueto
be to identifyand whereverpossible to quantifythe magnitudeof the
variableswhichfacilitateor hinderthe grouppursuitof collectivemoral
goals.
The pioneersociologistswho thoughtin termsof social controlworked
on specificempiricaltopics and in time applied theireffortsto a very
broad rangeof topicsin the registerof social research.Initiallytheydid
tend to focuson macrosociological
issues,such as law and the formation
of legal codes,theemergence
ofpublicopinionand collectivebehavior,and
informaland mass media of communication,
as well as "traditional"elements,such as customs,"mores,"and religion.Louis Wirth,an articulate
spokesmanfor this intellectualtradition,assertedthe centralityof the
processesof "persuasion,discussion,debate,education,negotiation,
parliamentaryprocedure,diplomacy,bargaining,
adjudication,contractualrelations,and compromise."
For him,theseprocesseshad to serveas themeans
forarrivingat a sufficient
degreeof agreementto make the ongoinglife
of a societypossible,despitedifferences
in interests(1948, pp. 31-32).
At thispoint,an important
caveat mustbe entered.Much of theempirical and substantivewritingsabout social controldeals with normsand
normativebehavior.Norms are often used as the indicatorsof social
control-thedependentvariables,so to speak. But social controldoes not
reston an exclusively
normative
conceptionof elementsof social organizationand society.As will be demonstrated,
it did not do so originallyand
cannotnow if it is to serveas a guide to empiricalresearchand to the
codification
of researchfindings.
On thecontrary,
the continuing
relevance
of social controltheoryreflects
the factthatits assumptions
and variables
incorporate
theecological,technological,
economic,and institutional
dimensionsof social organization.
EARLY USAGE OF SOCIAL CONTROL
The term"social control"firstfigures
prominently
in thewritings
of E. A.
Ross, who was stronglyinfluencedby GabrielTarde, a sociologistwith
The Natural History of Revolution (1927) by Lyford Edwards was prepared in
collaborationwith Robert E. Park. It demonstratesthe mannerin which the empirical
study of revolutionwas related to the elaboration of the concept of social control.
5
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
powerful
insights
intoFrenchsocietyand deeplyinvolvedin empiricalsocial
research(Clark 1969). Tarde himselfdid not emphasizethe term,but he
did presenta broadlyranginganalysisof the complexprocessesrequired
to producesocial agreementthroughmass persuasion.He was concerned
leadershipand legislawiththemechanismsrequiredto generateeffective
tionwhichwouldregulatesocial change.
While workingat StanfordUniversityin 1894, Ross decided that the
idea of social controlwas a "key that unlocksmany doors"; that is, it
whichconcernedhim.6
servedas a notionto bridgethevariousinstitutions
Againand again,he used theconceptto explainhow men"live closelytowe see about
withthatdegreeof harmony
getherand associatetheirefforts
us." Basically,Ross was concernedwiththe social conditionsthatcreated
of the
harmony.Much of his writingconsistedof detailed descriptions
mechanismsof social control.While he was fullyaware of the coercive
both
elementsin industrialsociety,he focusedon thedevicesofpersuasion,
He was impressedwiththeextentto which
interpersonal
and institutional.
persuasionas well as manipulationwas operative.His analysis encominteractionand sociabilityand those
passed the processesof face-to-face
of publicopinionand legal control.However,he was interested
not merely
in devicesof persuasionbut also in a genericconceptionof societythat
wouldexplainthosedeviceswhichoperateto "finda meansof guidingthe
willor conscienceof theindividualmembers
ofsociety"(Ross 1901,p. 59).
His usageof social controlbroughtthistermintothecenterof sociological
inquiry,but it remainedforothersociologiststo use the idea morerigorouslyand to enrichits intellectualrelevance.
During the foundingperiod of sociologyin the United States, two
majorfigures-CharlesHortonCooleyand W. I. Thomas-gave centrality
to social controland its relationto rationalcontrolin theirwritings.
There were strongelementsof convergencein theirinterests,but the
Cooley was a moresystematicand coherent
differences
wereimportant.7
thinkerthan Ross, and his approachto social controlwas based on a
He drovedirectlyto his mainpreoccupathoughtful,
normative
orientation.
tion,which reflectedthe pervasiveinfluenceof pragmatismamong the
sociologists
of thatperiod.8
6 Ross (1936, p. 56) noted that Herbert Spencer had employed the word "control"
in 1892 in his Principles of Sociology, vol. 2, pt. 4. While Spencer did not give it
centralimportancein his analysis,his usage undoubtedlywas an influenceon Ross.
In addition,see Borgatta and Meyer (1959).
7 William G. Sumnernevermade explicituse of the term"social control,"yet, because
of the issues raised in his Folkways (1906), his name is linked to this concept.Sumner
defined"folkways"as habits and customswhich serve as the basis for the "regulation
and imperative"for succeedinggenerations.
8
In 1911, L. L. Bernard published his treatise on social control which contained a
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His approach,of course,restson an interactional
socialphilosophy
which
he helped to develop.Social controlwas essentialfor the growthof the
selfthroughtheprocessof interaction.
Likewise,it restedto an important
degreeon self-control.
Cooleyused thenotionof theprimarygroup-faceto-facerelations-buthe had fewconstructions
fordealingwiththe internalizationof norms,althoughhe assertedthat"individuality"
was a crucial
elementforeffective
and meaningful
social control.
However,he was a powerfulthinkerbecause he struggledto relatehis
interactional
approachto the largersociety.Cooley'slinkwiththe classic
questionof social orderand his outlookon social controlunderconditions
of industrialization
are summarizedin his chapter,"Social Controlin
International
Relations."In his words,"A ripenationalityis favorableto
international
orderforthesame reasonsthata ripeindividuality
is favorable to orderin a small group.It means that we have coherent,selfconsciousand moreor less self-controlled
elementsout of whichto build
our system[of nations]" (1920).
Thomasapproachedsocial controlfroma different
but relatedprinciple
of pragmaticphilosophy.In his view,the essentialissue forbothsociologistsand personsin publicand socialaffairs
was to increasetheimportance
and effectiveness
of "rationalcontrolin social life." Open mindedly-and
in a senseparadoxically-likemanyEuropeansociologists,
Thomas raised
the questionof the impactof rationalthoughtin weakeningthe social
fabricofsociety."We are less and less readyto let anysocialprocessgo on
withoutouractiveinterference
and we feelmoreand moredissatisfied
with
any active interference
based upon a merewhimof an individualor a
socialbody,or uponpreconceived
philosophical,
religious,
or moralgeneralization" (Thomas and Znaniecki1918-20, 1:1; Janowitz1966,p. 37).
Unlike Cooley,Thomas was trainedin classical literatureand history,
and he developedan interestin the comparativesociologicalstudy of
specificculturesand societies.He was fullyaware of the writingsof
Tonnies,whoseformulation
he rejectedbecauseof its simpleevolutionary
bias, its failureto describeadequatelyeitherpeasant societyor modern
social organization,
and particularly
its impliedhostilityto individualfreedomand creativity.
Thomasoffered
no singleset of determinant
causes of
socialchange,althoughhe was clearlythemostsystematic
of the founding
sociologistsconcernedwith social control.Thomas had a comprehensive
outlooktowardthe dimensionsof social organizationand social control.
He offered
a highlydifferentiated
orientation
whichsoughtto incorporate
variablesreflecting
into his analysisof
ecology,economy,and technology
social control.His orientation,
of necessity,
suffered
becauseof eclecticism.
sociological critique of utilitarianphilosophy.These themes were later emphasized in
sociological analysis as part of the "theoryof action."
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He saw societyin institutional
termsas consistingof a set of irreducible
social groups, from primarygroups to complex bureaucraticstructures.Social controldependedon effective
linkageor articulationamong
theseelements;social disorganization
resultedfromtheirdisarticulation.
WhileRosswas stimulated
by Tarde to proposetheterm"socialcontrol,"
in fashioning
the
thewritings
of GeorgSimmelwereimportant
ingredients
outlooksofW. I. Thomasand,later,RobertE. Park,bothofwhompressed
to developan empiricalbase foranalysisof social controlin the urban
metropolis.In his classic article,"The Mental Life of the Metropolis,"
Simmeldemonstrated
his resistanceto the categoriesderivedfromthe
Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
model (1903). He was, rather,concernedwith
thechangingand alternativebases of grouplife.He did not conceptualize
individuality
as inherently
self-destructive
or destructive
of social control.
The analysisof individuality
had to includethe possibilitiesof formsof
autonomyand personalfreedom(Levine 1971).
Simmel'swritingsdid not expressany existingphilosophyof history.
In fact,theyarticulatedwiththe orientation
of Americansociologistsof
thepragmaticpersuasion.In particular,Simmeldid not concludethatthe
complexity
ofmodernsocietyanditsrangeofgroupaffiliations
automatically
or that it was necessarilydisintegrative.
impliedthe loss of individuality
His "Die Kreuzungsozialer Kreise," translatedby ReinhardBendix as
"The Web of GroupAffiliations,"
arguesthe opposite.In effect,
each new
him more
group to which a person becomes affiliated"circumscribes"
exactlyand moreunambiguously(Simmel 1955, pp. 140-41). In other
words,as a personbecomesaffiliated
with a social group,he surrenders
himselfto it. However,the largerthe numberof groupsto which the
individualbelongs,the moreunlikelyor improbableit will be that other
personswill exhibitthe same combination
of groupaffiliations.
Therefore,
"the personalso regainshis individuality
because his patternof participationis unique." In essence,Simmelrejectedthe assertionthatpartcipation engenderedonly social constraintand conformity
or, alternatively,
individualityresultedonly fromwithdrawal.He held that individuality
was theresultof a patternofsocialparticipation
and theoutcomeofspecific
typesof social control.
The centralthemesof Durkheim'swritings
convergewiththe earlyformulationof social controland are thusa relatedaspectof the intellectual
historyoftheconception.
He did notuse thetermor an equivalentformulation.But hispersistent
searchforthe"determination
of moralfacts"is his
versionof theproblematic
issue involvedin social control;thisis perhaps
mostclearlyseenin Sociologieet philosophie(1924). Moreover,his empirical study,Suicide (1897), has come to supplythe link betweenhis work
and thesubsequentgenerations
ofwritersconcernedwithsocialcontrol.
Obviously,one cannotoverlookthe existenceof a body of literature
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criticizingDurkheimforhis failureto offeran effective
analysisof the
internalization
of the normson which he rests his analysis. Likewise,
Durkheim'sframework
has not servedas a contribution
to criticalevaluation of the Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft
themesin sociologybut has, in
into this dominantperspective.While his work
effect,been incorporated
has been an importantstimulusto empiricalresearch,in contrastto the
mainbodyof wrtingon social controlas it has subsequently
emerged,his
orientation
has presenteda relativelyoverdeterministic
frameof reference
withonlylimitedexplorationof the voluntaristic
elementsin the "moral
order."
DIFFUSION OF THE CONCEPT
By 1920, the term"social control"had emergedin the UnitedStates as
representing
a centraltheoreticalthrustby whichsociologistssoughtto
integratetheirsubstantiveand empiricalinterests.For the next20 years,
whilesociologywas becominginstitutionalized
as an academicdiscipline,
the writingsof both RobertE. Park and RobertM. MacIver-although
theywereextremely
different
thinkers-served
to maintainthenotionthat
social controlis a device forintegrating
diverseelementsof sociological
analysis.
Social controlwas used as the organizingthemeof the nationalconventionof the AmericanSociologicalAssociationin 1917. There a wide
rangeof empiricaltopicswereexplored,suchas childwelfare,immigration,
labor relations,and economicorganization.The papers presentedmade
striking
efforts
to be explicitin evaluatingthe effectiveness
of elementsin
the processof social control(Bedford 1918). In 1921, RobertE. Park
to
and ErnestW. Burgessassessedthe state of sociology,in Introduction
theScienceof Sociology,by asserting:"All social problemsturnout to be
problemsof social control"(p. 785). In contemporary
language,social
controlis the outcome,in variousformsand content,of social organization.It is theconstruct
whichhelpsto relateand interrelate
thedependent
variablesof empiricalresearch.Moreover,since theylinkedsocial control
to socialproblems,
sociologists
of thatperiodsaw it as a vehicleforjoining
sociologicalanalysisto issues of social policyand fordealingwithissues
of deviance.
To understand
thefullconnotations
of social controlin thatintellectual
setting,one has only to turnto its references
Social
and cross-references.
controlpointedlyencompassed
law and leadership,
keyelementsforunderstandinghowsocietyregulatesitself.In thePark and Burgessvolume,the
listof cross-references
evenincludedtheword"participation";theexplication of this cross-reference
was based on an analysisof the "immigrant
problem"viewedas a problemin lack of participation(p. 766).
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Sociologistsof thisperioddid not perceivesocial controlas a mechanism
of conformity.
Societydid not and could not existon the basis of conformity
but requiredactive elementsof collectiveproblemsolving.Nor
did theexplicitphilosophicalpreferences
of thesesociologistspermitthem
to equate social controlwithconformity.
Social controlraisedthequestion
of how societyregulateditselfand changed.In reply,Park and Burgess
postulateda sequenceor "naturalhistory"of collectivebehaviorthatwas
rootedin conflict
and fromwhichfewformsof social controlcouldemerge.
"Social controland themutualsubordination
of individualmembersto the
community
have theiroriginin conflict,
assume definiteorganizedforms
in theprocessof accommodation,
and are consolidatedand fixedin assimilation"(Park and Burgess1921,p. 785).
As Ralph Turnerhas asserted,Park's explicationof social controldrew
on analogiesfromthecompetitive
processesof ecology,to whichhe added
thoseformsof social communication
that constrainedthe ecologicalprocesses (Turner1967). He posed a formulation
of theunderlying
processes
of social controlthat fusedecological,institutional,
and normativevariables. "Competitionand communication,
althoughtheyperform
divergent
and uncoordinated
social functions,
nevertheless
in theactuallifeof society
supplement
and completeeach other.Competition
seemsto be theprinciple
of individuation
in the lifeof the personand of society-communication,
on the otherhand, operatesprimarilyas an integrating
and socializing
principle"(Park 1950, p. 43; 1952, pp. 240-62). He went on to argue
thattheinitialconsequenceof new formsof communication
is to intensify
competition.However,"in the long run," improvedcommunication
can
contribute"to humanizesocial relationsand to substitutea moralorder
forone thatis fundamentally
symbioticratherthan social."
In contrast,RobertM. MacIver's interestin politicaltheoryand the
roleof thestateled to hisproducing
workswhichbroughtthedimension
of
coercion,especiallylegitimateforce,into social controlin a fashionthat
paralleledMax Weber'sorientation.
For Maclver, an elementof coercion
was involvedin socialcontrol;theproblematic
issuesweretheamountand
theminimization
of coercion.
Maclveracceptedtheidea thatsocial controlwas themodernequivalent
of the classic issue of social order.Social controlmeantboth elements:
the institutional
mechanismsby which societyregulatedindividualbehavior and the "way in whichpatternedand standardizedbehaviorin
turnservesto maintainthe social organization"(MacIver and Page 1949,
p. 137). One strikingavenue he investigatedwas social controlin 19thcenturyutopiancommunities
in the UnitedStates.MacIver was searching
forhypothetical
equivalentsof existingpatternsof social controland was
in the capacityof purposefully
particularly
interested
constructed
utopian
communities
to adapt to social changeand to engagein collectiveproblem
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solving.Reflecting
his frameof reference,
he concludedthat,because the
social organization
of thesecommunities
permitted
verylimited,or insufficient, individualization,they were incompletesocieties and therefore
a veryhighrateof "mortality."9
suffered
During the 1920s and early 1930s, the term"social control"supplied
an essentialbridgeto the influential
workof institutional
economists.In
the United States, such economistsincluded ThorsteinVeblen, John
Maurice Clark, Wesley C. Mitchell,and Walton H. Hamilton.10They
believedthatthemechanisms
of themarketplace
and competition
supplied
an essentialbut only partial basis forunderstanding
economicbehavior.
Clark,in Social ControlofBusiness,presentedthecoreof theinstitutional
economists'effort
to make use of the sociologicalnotionof social control
(1926). He was firmly
committed
to the centrality
of effective
utilization
of marketmechanismsforallocatingresources.However,it was clear to
him that the basic structure
of modernsocietydoes not restin the competitiveeconomicprocess.Societyrequiresa set of informaland formal
In effect,
normswhichhighlight"cooperative"arrangements.
he rejected
as derived
thenotionof countervailing
power-of society-wide
organization
fromthe competition
of large-scaleor different
typesof economicorganizations. Instead, he assertedthat the governmental
system-legislative
and legal-supplies the framework
for the cooperativeelementsof the
moderneconomicsystem.
Comparableto thelinkageof socialcontrolwitheconomicswas thework
of "realist"scholarsin law,politics,and psychology.
The mostoutstanding
writerin the sociologyof law was Roscoe Pound,whose 1942 studyof
Social Control throughLaw anticipatedcontemporary
approaches.In
politicalscience,CharlesE. Merriammade use of the social controlconcept in empiricalresearchinto political and governmental
institutions
(1936). Duringthisperiod,anothervigorousintellectualcurrentthatfed
the concernwithsocial controlderivedfromthe writings
of Mary Parker
Follett,the psychologistof administration.
She was groping,with profoundinsight,towarda sociologicalformulation
of administrative
control
thatwouldencompasstheessentialelementsof the social process,and she
brokewiththeviewof administration
as a systemof constraints.
"We get
controlthrougheffective
integration.
Authorityshould arise withinthe
unifying
process.As everylivingprocessis subject to its own authority,
9 Other sociologistswho pursued the analytic aspects of social control before 1940
include Kimball Young (1934), Paul Landis (1939), and L. L. Bernard (1937).
10These institutionaleconomistsconstituteda body of scholars with sociological interestwho produced,for more than two decades, importantresearchon industrialand
economic organization.With the decline of the industrial school of economists,sociologistsunfortunatelyhave failed to incorporatefully the topics of social control
of economic and industriallife in their domain.
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
evolvedby or involvedin theprocessitself,so social
thatis, theauthority
controlis generatedby the processitself.Or rather,the activityof selfactivity"(Follett 1941, p. 204; see
creatingcoherenceis the controlling
also Pigors1935).
By the 1930s, the Americansociologists'theoreticaland empirical
concernswith social controlhad begun to have a discernibleimpacton
European thought.Karl Mannheim followedthe Americanliterature
In his elaborate
closely and servedas a focal point of interpretation.
(1940), Mannheim
treatise,Man and Societyin an Age of Reconstruction
madesocialcontrola centralpointof departureforhis analysis.Interested
in politicalsociology,he introducedand focusedattentionon the role of
in theprocessesof social controlin an advanced
institutions
parliamentary
industrialsociety.For him,freedomwas a particulartypeand qualityof
if social plansocial control;it was requiredunderadvancedindustrialism
rule.He believedthat the
ningwerenot to degenerateinto authoritarian
had, in turn,to reston vigorous
processesof social control,to be effective,
of Max Weber,he sought
Underthe influence
institutions.
parliamentary
of social structure
to analyze,in the broadestterms,the transformation
the shiftthat he saw toward
and authorityrelations,and he highlighted
profound
strainson social control.
withtheconcomitant
indirectauthority
the detailed
in the extentto whichhe incorporated
His workwas striking
findingsof empiricalsociologicalresearchon Americansocial structure.
for incorpoIn essence,Mannheimpreparedthe intellectualgroundwork
ratingpoliticalsociologyand the analysisof mass societyinto the study
of socialcontrol.
CONCEPTUAL
CONTINUITY
in
termof reference
Although"social control"persistedas a coordinating
and narrowmeaningof
Americansociologythrough1940, the constricted
of social
thetermwas alreadycomingintoforce.The alternateformulation
was beingpostucontrolas a processof socializationleadingto conformity
This trend
social psychologists.
who called themselves
lated by sociologists
becomesevidentwhenone examines,not the theoreticaltreatisesof the
and journalarticlesconcerned
period,butthetitlesof doctoraldissertations
and mass.
interpersonal
withsocializationand theprocessof persuasion,
or apparentshift?
How does one accountforthis transformation
First,the factthat thereis a naturalhistoryof sociologicalideas may
broad
a partialexplanation.Undertheimpactof empiricalresearch,
afford
conceptionsthat have servedas sourcesof stimulationbecomeconverted
in timeintomorespecificand delimitedtopicsof research.Howeverconvincingin itself,this is hardlyan adequate explanation.Review of the
literatureand interviewswith figuresactive duringthis period do not
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permittheconclusionthatthe diffuseness
and shortcomings
of the idea of
social control-and thereare many-accountfortheapparenttransformation.It is necessaryto consideradditionalfactors.
Second,thepoweranalysisand modifiedversionsof economicdeterminism derivedfromthewritings
of Karl Marx had the unanticipated
consequence of weakeninga concernwith the voluntaristicand purposeful
processofmodifying
thesocialorder.This occurredduringtheGreatDepression and the New Deal, whichcreatedideologicaland politicalcurrents
that impingedon sociologyin a fashioncomparablewith the eventsof
the 1960sand made theidea of socialcontrolor any equivalentunpopular.
The resultwas an oversimplified
focuson powerand powerrelationsand
on uncriticalacceptanceof the notionof mass society.To speak of social
controlwas perceivedas impedingthosesocial and economicchangesthat
membersof the sociologicalprofession
consideredessential.
As a result,aftertheinterruption
in academiclifeduringWorldWar II,
thesubjectmatterof socialcontrolcame to reflectincreasingly
thespecialized interests
of sociologists
concernedwithresearchon institutions
dealing
withsocializationand resocialization,
suchas thementalhospitalor school."'
The researchtopicscoveredunder"social control,"at the nationaland
regionalmeetingsand in journal and monographpublications,show that
in an evertheprocessesof social controlin thesetermswereinvestigated
wideningrangeof institutional
settings.Paradoxically,the relevanceof
theseempiricalresearchesrestedin theirfindings,
whichmightwell have
been anticipated,concerningthe limitationsof dominantleaders and
in enforcing
organization
administrators
normsand thecapacityofinformal
groupsto modifynormsor participatein redirecting
goals. Even in the
narrowinvestigation
of the enforcement
of norms,such sociologistsand
social psychologists
were forcedto recognizethe requirements
of institutionallife and the societalorder.They soughtto deal withbasic issues,
relabeling"social control"as "social regulation"(Cummings1968).
The narrowdelimitation
of social controlas the processof social conformity,
althoughwidelyused in sociologicalresearch,did not and could
not displacethe classicalusage of the concept.Since 1945 the latter,with
its broad and fundamental
import,has continuedto appear and reappear
11 Of course, it would be an error to conclude that the narrow social-psychological
definitionof social control as conformitywas accepted by all social psychologistsof
eitherthe psychologicalor the sociologicalpersuasion.A varietyof social psychologists
concernedwith social values resisted.Withouteffectivereferenceto the previous literature, they came in time almost to reinventthe older conception of social control.
A thoughtfulexample of the countertrendis found in Scott and Scott (1971), who
boldly introduce their work with the assertion,"Even a purely objective attitude
toward the phenomenonof social controlprovidessome safeguardagainst the concept
of control by a superman,for either good or evil purposes. This is the fact that
control is always a mutual affair" (p. 1). See also the penetratingformulationby
Litwak (1956, pp. 217-23).
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withpersistence
and vitalityin thewritings
of certainsociologists.
Clearly,
the new relianceon biologicaland electronicanalogieshas not completely
obsoletethistraditional
lineofsociologicalthinking.'2
displacedor rendered
Any reviewof the continuity
and vitalityof the idea of social control
mustaccordan importantplace to the writingsand researchof Everett
Hughesand his students.As thepost-WorldWar II expansionof academic
sociologywas starting,
Hughespublishedhis influential
essay"Institutions"
(1946). For him,one centralissue of social controlwas the socialization
and the organizationof occupational,especially professional,groups.
Hughes'stheoreticaland empiricalwritingsstimulateda crucialbody of
literature
analyzingand assessingprocessesof regulation
and self-regulation
of skilledgroupsin modernsociety.'3
In particular,the reHughes drewon currentsin social anthropology.
servedto
searchof specificBritishand Americansocial anthropologists
reinforce
the interestof studentsof social controlin intensivefieldwork
duringa periodwhenthe emerging
trendin sociologywas towardsurvey
researchmethodology.
Anthropologists
seekingto use theconceptof social
controlto integratetheirethnographic
materialsand maintainlinkages
with the intellectualtraditionsof sociologyby this approach included
RaymondFirth (1951), S. F. Nadel (1953, 1957), J. S. Slotkin(1950),
and JackGoody(1957).
The post-WorldWar II functionalist
maintaineda concernwith and
orientation
towardsocialcontrol.Throughout
thebodyofTalcottParsons's
writing,
thereis a centralfocuson theessentialelementsof a social order.
His explicitinterestin thesocial controlconceptderivedfromhis explication of 1EmileDurkheim.In The Structureof Social Action (1937), he
assertedthat Durkheim"not onlygainedgreatinsightinto the natureof
socialcontrol,
butalso intotheroleand importance
of moralconformity."'14
In The Social System(1951), the analysisof social controlfiguresmore
prominently
as a core elementin his explanationof the patterningof
deviantbehavior.Parsons'swritingshave had a stronginfluenceon the
studiesof deviancemade by a varietyof empiricalresearchsociologists.15
12 For an interesting
treatiseon continuitiesin the use of the social control concept,
see Richard T. LaPiere (1954).
13 Hughes's interestin social controlis to be found implicitlyin the works of Erving
Goffman,Anselm Strauss,and Howard Becker.
14 Parsons's analysisseeks to assess the contributions-plustheirdegreeof convergence
-of a variety of classical sociologiststo the extension and reformulationof basic
questions of the social order. Thus this volume is a key resourcein the intellectual
historyof sociology and the issues involved in social control. In a very compact
fashion,Percy Cohen has reviewed these linkages,and his effortmakes possible the
conclusion that "modern sociology" has, in effect,abandoned the older question of
how societyemergedand concentrateson that of how the social order persists (1968,
especiallychap. 2).
15 While a great deal of the writingand research on deviance came to reflectthe
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In theworkof a numberof Parsons'sstudents,theissueof social control
continueto be explicated.In Human Society,KingsleyDavis joined his
conceptionof functionalism
to the idea of social control."It is through
them [social controls]that humansocietyregulatesthe behaviorof its
membersin such ways that they performactivitiesfulfilling
societal
needs-even, sometimes,
at the expenseof organicneeds" (1948, p. 52).
He focusedon institutional
arrangements
for regulationand controlby
pointedlycomparingthe mechanismsof social control in totalitarian
societieswith those in the multiparty
states of the West. Likewise,the
socialcontrolof sciencehas beenused to focusattentionbothon theconditionsunderwhichsciencedevelopsand on the social and politicalconsequencesof scientific
knowledge.BernardBarber,in Scienceand theSocial
Order(1952), has probedthe directinvolvement
of scientistsin wartime
researchand the new orientations
towardtheirsocial responsibility
that
have emerged.
The continuing
impactof theissuesof socialorderwas to be found,after
1945,amonga groupof sociologists
concernedwithmacrosociology.
It was
to be expectedthatReinhardBendixand BennettBergerwoulddisplaya
strongconcernwiththeseissuesand theconditions
underwhichsocialorder
is maintained.Followingdirectlyon Simmel'sformulations,
theypostulate
alternative
in a fashionthatconverges
consequencesof groupparticipation
withtraditional
notionsof social control.They emphasizethatsocialparticipationin its genericformproducesmorethan "socializing"effects,
the
centralconcernof empiricalsociologists(Bendix and Berger1959). They
also stressthe potentialityof an alternativeset of outcomes,namely,
"individualizing"effects,
that requiresa carefuland richerlanguageof
analysis.The individualizing
effects
are not at all equated withpersonal
anomiebut are at therootof autonomy,
creativity,
and problemsolvingelementsconsistentwithand to some degreeessentialfor a social order
and effective
social control.
In an alternative
way,EdwardShilshas soughtto explicatethe dimension of social order and social controlof a mass society (1962). The
essentialtransformation
of modernsocietyrestsnot only in its industrial
and technological
base but also in the effort
to incorporatethe "mass of
the population"into the society'scentralinstitutional
and value systems
as a resultof the social and politicalprocessof fundamental
democratization,to use Mannheim'sterminology
(Mannheim1940). Shils has tried
to give a normativedimensionto the ecologicalstructureof the nationstatewithhis emphasison the "center"and the "periphery"(1961). The
narrowerand more constrictedview of social control,the followingexpositionsdeal
with broad societal issues and therebyreflectearlier formulations:Clark and Gibbs
(1965); Gibbs (forthcoming); and Stephenson (1973).
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restsin his use of theword"civility"
particularrelevanceof Shils'swritings
interaction
and social relationsrequiredfor
the
patterns
of
to characterize
the reductionof coercionand manipulationin the social orderof mass
society.
that George Homans, beforehis acceptanceof the
It is interesting
made use of "social
psychology,
"behavioral"assumptionof conditioning
control"in its traditionalmeaning.In this he was stimulatedby Mary
of
"Social controlis not a separatedepartment
ParkerFollett'swritings.
grouplife-instead control,to a greateror lesser degree,is inherentin
betweenmembersof the group" (Homans 1951,
everydayrelationships
suppliesthe basis forempiricalinvestigation
p. 365). For him,interaction
languages" (p. 94).
of social controlin "at least two somewhatdifferent
of goods,such as
Social controlcan be describedin termsof "distribution
of highsocial rank."
money,and intangiblegoods,such as the enjoyment
style,concernedwiththe
Moore,Jr.,in a markedlydifferent
Barrington
asof societies,poses the questiontraditionally
historicaltransformation
in
on Conformity
sociatedwithsocial controlin his essay on "Reflections
IndustrialSociety" (1958). He considershimselfnot a studentof the
abstractprinciplesof the humangroupbut a sociologistof comparative
sociopoliticalsystems.For him, social controlinvolves an elementof
or unconscious.He feelsthat "in the matureman,
repression-conscious
we simplycall it self-control"
(p. 193). Moore has thusapproachedsocial
does an adcontrolfromthe reverseside, namely,how muchconformity
vancedindustrialsocietyrequire?First,he is attractedto the idea that,
in such a society,moreof "this ancientvirtue"is required,not less. The
derivesfromthe fact that the practical
societalcontextforself-control
by a paradox."Theremaybe lessof theself-control
problemis compounded
nowimposedby scarcity,"while"a widerrangeof materialopportunities
and temptations
exerciseof thiscapacity"(p. 193).
mayrequirea stronger
enough,findstheprimaryneed forconformity
Second,Moore,strangely
in the arena of culture,whetherbroadlydefined(as by anthropologists)
or narrowlydefinedto includeonly certainappreciatedcultural,artistic,
thatgenerates
and intellectual
It is notthearenaof technology
attainments.
but "the simple fact that the achievementsof
the need forconformity
and discipline,not only to create thembut
humanculturerequireeffort
merelyto appreciatethem" (p. 186).'6 This line of reasoningis not an
expressionof sociological perversity;instead, it representsMoore's
of an advancedindustrialsociety
searchforthe requirements
thoughtful
able to regulateand controlitself.
16 AndrewHacker (1957) has restatedthe issues of contemporary
politicalelite theory
in termsof social control (see also Cook 1957).
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CONTINUING EXPLICATION
In summary,the idea of social controlhas been a centralformulation
of sociologyas an intellectualdiscipline.
in the originand development
have not abandonedtheintellectualheriMoreover,particularsociologists
issuesassociatedwiththe idea, fortherecan be no
tage and problematic
sociologywithouta concernfortheelementsof a socialorder.An inventory
to substitutethe language
usage indicatesthatthe efforts
of contemporary
modelsdo not sufficeto
of social systemsor of biologicaland cybernetic
In fact, WilbertE. Moore has consupplantolder conceptualizations.
and behavior,"thatthe "oldof "social structure
cluded,in his assessment
fashionedsociologicalterm,social control,seems appropriateto revive,"
of externalcontrolsand individualinternalizato handlethe combination
tionof the moralorder(1967, pp. 171-219). The particulartermis not
the
thathighlights
theissue,ofcourse.The issueis theanalyticformulation
of societyand
and variablesthatmaximizetheself-regulation
preconditions
whether
theyhave
therealitiesof socialconstraints,
takeintoconsideration
theiroriginsin ecological,economic,or normativefactors.
I would argue that the idea of social control-in its tradiTherefore,
explication-shouldserveas a powerful
tionalmeaningand contemporary
by thewritings
antidoteto the "crisisin sociology"outlookas exemplified
of Alvin W. Gouldner,amongothers (Gouldner1970). No doubt some
withthecapacityoftheirsociological
havebecomedisappointed
sociologists
process.Othershave becomepersonally
endeavorsto alterthesociopolitical
withthe styleof life of the teacherin the unifatiguedand discontented
versitysetting,and as a resulttheyhave less zeal for theirintellectual
tasks. A sociologistwho has enteredhis calling with a belief in the
assumptionis certainto face a crisisat somepoint.
philosopher-king
The phrase"crisisin sociology"mustmean that sociologyis progressivelymoreand moreunable to explainand clarifysocial changein conof sociology
thematurity
temporary
society.Thereis no needto exaggerate
and thecumulativecharacterof its researchefforts.
Nor is thereany need
to overlookthevast amountof marginalresearch.But thepresentstateof
sociologyis to be assessednotin termsof thewiderangeof its undertakings
but,rather,by the vitalityof relevantstreams-evenif theyare minority
a crisis,there
mayexperience
efforts.
whileparticularsociologists
Therefore,
is no basis forassertingthat thereis a crisisin the intellectualdiscipline.
Any"crisis"residesin therealworld.The advancedindustrialnationswith
crisesin theirabilityto reguare experiencing
institutions
parliamentary
The intellectual
in theirpoliticalinstitutions.
particularly
late themselves,
Fragestellung(posingof the question)linkedto the idea of social control
constitutesa relevantstandpointfor assessing this crisis in political
legitimacy.
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of a focuson social controlin its traditionalsense (or
The reemergence
relabeledvariously,forexample,as "social regulation,"in contemporary
language)has theadvantageofbeingable to drawon increasedintellectual
amongsociologists.The followingpointsare essential,
self-consciousness
althoughan adequate explicationof themremainsbeyondthe scope of
thispaper and will be presentedin my largerstudy,"Social Controland
Macrosociology."
First,the social controlperspective,as it has developed,suppliesan
appropriatelevel of abstractionforthe studyof social organizationand
social change.In fact,the social controlperspectivestandsin contrastto
used a highlevel
thepost-WorldWar II trend,in whichmuchtheorizing
at a more
of generality.Originally,social controltheorywas formulated
and analytically
It requireda set of taxonomic
concretelevelofabstraction.
categoriesas the basic elementsof analysis. Specifically,
differentiated
and social class
social controlscholarspostulatedthatsocial stratification
and social
fortheanalysisof social organization
wereinsufficient
categories
and institutional
change.There was an explicitconcernwithinstitutions
an endsociologistsinvestigated
analysis.Underthe rubric"institutions,"
theirpersonaltastesmorethan a set
less rangeof subjectsthat reflected
of analyticunitsand objectsof analysis.But fromthe verybeginningof
theirempiricalresearch,sociologistsconcernedwith social controlhave
beenawareof thenecessityof groupingtheirsubjectmattersin a broader
analyticalcategorysystem-but one whichwould not lose sightof the
substantivereality.
Thus, slowly,the varietyof researchon delinquentgangs,workteams,
play groups,and thelike becamemoreand moreexplicitlyfusedinto the
of CharlesH. Cooleyand
the writings
studyof primarygroups,reflecting
W. I. Thomas.UnderRobertF. Park's stimulus,the host of analysesof
patternsmergedintoa commoninterestin
unitsand residential
territorial
concernswas
Anothercore of thesesubject-matter
structures.
community
into the
of the studyof specificcorporateinstitutions
the transformation
underthe influenceof Max Weber
analysisof bureaucraticorganizations,
institutions,
and ChesterBarnard.Fromstudyof a myriadof interesting
thatsuchcategoriesas primarygroups,comthereemergedtheperspective
wereessentialelements
and bureaucraticorganizations
munitystructures,
and socioeconomic
for convertingthe descriptionof social stratification
analysisof the "social system"or the nationclass patternsinto effective
that had fasciof particularinstitutions
state. The randominvestigation
has givenway to a morepointedfocuson the
natedtheearliersociologists
betweenbasic structural"entities."In the effortto avoid
interrelations
about
intoempiricism,
thestyleof theorizing
or a flight
excessivereification
social controldevelopedin the 1920s-and explicatedthereafter-appears
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AmericanJournalof Sociology
tasksof socioloto be markedlyviable and appropriateforthe continuing
gists.
Second,theanalysisof social controlcan be pressedwithmorepointed
concernforcausal sequencesin social changein particular,with a more
explicitand adequate overviewof the articulationof "social structure"
Sociologicalanalysisis only slowlycomingto
and politicalinstitutions.
gripswiththe crisisof politicallegitimacythat constitutesthe key probin thosenations
lematicissue in advancedindustrialsociety,particularly
institutions.
parliamentary
withmultiparty
of social controlwas a
defectof the earlyformulations
The noteworthy
viewpointthat saw political institutionsas derivativefromthe social
were thoughtto be
system,almostas if politicalinstitutions
stratification
of politicalsociologysincethe 1920shas
The contribution
epiphenomenal.
only partiallyovercomethis defect.As sociologistshave progressively
soughtto articulatethe relationsbetweensocial structureand political
theyhave emphasizedthe causal priorityof the elementsof
institutions,
Theyhave perceivedpoliticsand "politicalconflict"as
social stratification.
ratherthan augof the underlyingsocial stratification
manifestations
associframework
mentingtheirapproachto politicswithan institutional
have been
atedwiththeidea of socialcontrol(Janowitz1970). Sociologists
in the mode of Robert
stratification,
interestedin describingcommunity
patterns,
and Helen Lynd's Middletown(1929), or nationalstratification
by meansof thenationalsurveysample,in orderto tracetheconsequences
of thesehierarchiesforpoliticalcontrol.In theirview, politicsis mass
especiallyelectoralbehavior.The causal patternhas
politicalparticipation,
to
economic,and occupationalstructures
ecological,
underlying
from
been
political
mass
fashion
which
interests
of
group
set
to
a
social strata
participation.
Sociologistshave yet to explore adequately the implicationsof an
approachto the politicalprocess.No doubt the sociological
institutional
on politics,that
perspective
traditioncontainsexamplesof an institutional
source
an
independent
constitute
thatpoliticalinstitutions
is, theviewpoint
But
structure.
of societal change and an elementfor fashioningsocial
have
includingthoseattachedto thesocial controlperspective,
sociologists,
ofsuchan assertion.
implications
thecomprehensive
beenslowto implement
However,theriseand sociopoliticalconsequencesof thewelfarestatehave
movedthisintellectualagenda intoprominence.
penetrate
politicalpartyand modernpoliticalinstitutions
The moderm
all sectorsof society.It is necessaryto speakof theirdecisiveconsequences
of modernpolitical
and to recognizethatthesupremacy
forsocialstructure
or theirlegitimacy.
does not insureeithertheireffectiveness
institutions
As a result,trendsin politicalbehavior,especiallymeasuresof electoralbeof social controlin
havior,become key indicatorsof the effectiveness
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
advancedindustrial
societieswithmultiparty
systems.The crisisin political
legitimacyemergestherebynot as a suddenmanifestation
but ratheras
the outcomeof continuingsocial change.The cumulativeimpactof the
associatedwithWorldWar
and organizational
technological
developments
II can be takenas thethreshold
to thenewhistoricalera.WorldWar II not
onlycreatedtheinstitutional
base forthewelfarestatebut also contributed
to the demandformoreextensivepoliticalparticipation.17
Aftera shortperiod of limitedadaptationfollowingWorld War II,
Westernparliamentary
institutions
have demonstrated
theirincreasedinabilityto produce effective
majoritiesand to create the conditionsfor
authoritative
decisionmaking.Therefore,the task of studentsof social
controlis notonlyto explainpatternsofpersonaldeviantbehavior,suchas
suicide,criminality,
and personalunhappiness,importantthoughthese
maybe. The coreissue is to help accountforthe declineof parliamentary
oppositionand the rise of unstableexecutiveleadership.
The gravedifficulties
ofparliamentary
controlcan be seenin thepatterns
of masspoliticalparticipation
commonto Westernnations.In the briefest
terms,therehavebeena long-term
increasein theproportion
of thepopulationwhodeclarethemselves
unaffiliated
withthemajorparties,an increase
in shifting
of the electoralchoice fromone nationalelectionto the next,
and a declinein beliefin theeffectiveness
of thelegislativeprocess.
The changesin social stratification
resultingfromtechnology,
occupationalstructure,
patternsof urbanization,
and economicresourceallocation
do not appear to have increasedor produceda highlyalienatedor anomic
electorate.On the contrary,the social stratification
patternsresultin a
electoratewitha powerfuldegreeof solidaritywithin
highlyfragmented
the componentsocial elements.These groupingsincreasetheirdemands
foreconomicbenefits,especiallygovernmental
benefits.Therebypersons
findthemselves,
underan advancedindustrial
society,withtheirownbuiltin competingself-interests
that are not easily resolvedor aggregatedinto
integratedand stable politicalpreferences.
In the threedecades since the end of WorldWar II, the structureof
politicalpartiesin the advancednations,includingthe UnitedStates,has
remainedrelativelyunchanged.The descriptive
literatureon partyorganization has not been effectively
and the
integratedinto macrosociology
analysisof social control.No doubt the partiesrequirevastlygreaterresources to performtheirpolitical tasks, and the mobilizationof these
resourcesparadoxicallyappears to make themless responsive.Nor has
the influxof a new cadre of personnelactingforunderrepresented
groups
alteredthe internalfunctioning
of the major parties.The issue that the
17 For an analysis of the transformation
of Great Britain into a welfare state under
the impact of World War I and World War II, see especiallyArthurMarvick (1968).
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AmericanJournalof Sociology
social controlperspectivemustface is deep. The opportunity
to express
politicaldemandsand to balance themby periodicnationalelectionsbecomesless and less effective
as a crucialelementin social control.
During the secondhalf of the 1960s, the strainof social changeand
politicalconstriction
produceda markedescalationof parapoliticalmovements,outsidethe institutionalized
parties,that frequently
used violent
symbolism
and elementsof violence.Therehas also beena striking
increase
in efforts
to extendcivicparticipation
into themanagement
of administrative agenciesof government
and of voluntaryassociations.These later
in part a responseto the impactof the parapoliticalmovements,
efforts,
have reflected
an implicitrecognition
of thelimitations
of periodicnational
electionsas mechanisms
of social and politicalcontrol,
There can be no doubt that sociologicalliteraturefailed to anticipate
the scope and intensity
of thesesocial movements,
althoughone can find
penetrating
analysesof the highlevelsof societalstrainand the constrictionof the processesof social controlthat an advancedindustrialsociety
was producing.The sociologicalwritingsabout these agitationsoften
followedtheclassicmodelof thenaturalhistoryof social movements.
Such
writingswereperceptivein focusingon the impendingtransformation
of
thesesocialmovements
into"interestgroups"and highlighted
theirbuilt-in
limitations
forinfluencing
patternsof social control.
It was no profoundsociologicaldiscoverythattheprotestmovements
of
thisperiodwouldlead to increaseddiffuse
politicalviolencebut hardlyto
a revolution
or a "revolution
situation."Nevertheless,
theirexplosivecharacterrequiresstudentsof social controlto reexaminethe issue of violence
and coercionin social change.In the sharpestterms,whatis the relationshipbetweenrelianceon violenceand coercionand the searchforeffective
social controlin an advancedindustrialsociety?The questionmanifests
itselfat everypointin sociologicalanalysiswhereexistingpatternsof social
controlare ineffective.
Historianshave made it clear that,regardlessof the vast and immeasurable amount of human miserywhich coercion and violence have
produced,the threatand use of forcein the past have been essentialfor
achieving,
on specificand important
occasions,moreeffective
socialcontrol.
But to explicatethe "principlesof force"is anothermatter-that is to
formulate
propositions
of the conditionsunderwhichforceproducespositivecontributions
to social control.Sociologistshave speculatedrepeatedly
on thisissue; but how muchfurther
has theanalysisbeen pressedbeyond
thehopefulaspirations
of GeorgesSorelin Reflections
on Violence( 1914) ?
The perspective
of social controlis groundedin assumptions
aboutinteractionand mutualinfluences.
Thereforeit raisesthe persistentand vexatiousissueof theconsequencesof forceand coercionforthosewho initiate
or manage theiruse-whether the goal be the maintenanceof a social
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SociologicalTheoryand Social Control
structure
or itschange.Perhapsthecentralproposition
thatcan be explored
is thattheuse of forceand coercionin thesearchforsocialcontroloperates
withinprogressively
narrower
limitsin relationsboth withinand between
industrialsocieties.'8This assertionobviouslydoes not denythe extensive
and diffusepatternsof violenceunderadvanced industrialism;nor does
it denyviolence'sdecisiveimportancein particularcircumstances.
But it
does emphasizethe emergence
of a calculuswhichpointsto the expanded
self-defeating
implicationsfor those who must rely extensivelyon force
and coercionin theireffortsto achieve social controlin its traditional
meaning.Such a calculusof forceand coercionreflects
at least twotrends.
There has been an increasein the professedmoral sensibilitiesof the
citizenry(whichis compatiblewithpoliticalindifference
underconditions
of ineffective
politicalinstitutions).Furthermore,
the sheercomplexity
of
societalorganizationhas made anticipatingthe consequencesof forceespeciallygiventhe expandedpowerof force-muchmoredifficult.
In a period of weakenedand ineffective
social controlin advanced
industrialsocieties,continuedconflictand disintegration
are alternative
or even simultaneousoutcomes.Social disintegration
impliesa reduction
in theabilityof a groupto controlthe behaviorof its membersand a decline in interactionand influence;social conflictimpliesan increasein
interaction
betweensocial groupson the basis of antagonisticmeansand
goals. In evaluatingthe consequencesof persuasionand coercionwith
respectto directsocial change,we mustconfront
the problemof whether
the existingcategoriesof politicalideology-thelanguageof politicaldiscoursewhichdominatessociologicalanalysis-are adequate foranalyzing
social control.
The alternative
social controlcannot
outcomesof thesearchforeffective
be analyzedadequatelyin termsof conventionalideologicalcategoriesradicalism,conservatism,
or incremental
liberalism.There exists a mass
of empiricaldata whichhighlight
the conclusionthat thesecategoriesare
in
limited describingmass opinionas well as the realitiesof institutional
practice.Moreover,these categoriesof political analysis imply a final
result,a resolution,
and an end state,whenin effect
we are dealingwitha
continuousand continuing
social process.But the macrosociology
and, as
a result,theanalysisof socialcontrolare too oftendominatedby a narrow
formatfashionedby politicaldiscourse.Therebythe "resolution"or "outcome" of ineffective
social controldoes not necessarilyconformto the
categoriesof politicalideology.It is necessaryat least to assumethat,for
an advancedindustrialsociety,the alternatives
could includesuch results
as chronicand persistenttensionand a varietyof patternsof stagnation.
In conclusion,it is necessaryto returnto the pointof departure.The
18
For this process in internationalrelations,see Morris Janowitz (1974).
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core elementin social controlis the idea of self-regulation
of the groupwhetherthegroupbe a face-to-face
In
primarygroupor the nation-state.
social
control
is
a
social
essence,
perspectivetoward
organization-one
which focuseson the outcomeof regulativemechanisms.To use the
languageof empiricalsocialresearch,
a setof dependent
it thereby
identifies
variables applicable to the fullestrange of institutionalsettings.The
empiricalcontentof social controldependson the sociologist'sabilityto
clarifyand explicatethe contentand criteriaof self-regulation.
Althoughsome sociologistshave transformed
the contentof the term
"social control"into that of social conformity
and even social repression,
the classical usage has persisted.The major advance in the intellectual
historyof social controlhas been its linkagesto the politicalprocessand
to thecrisisof "politicallegitimacy."These linkagescan be accomplished,
not by meansof a sociologicalreductionism,
but by a recognition
of the
boundariesof politicalinstitutions
and the "supremacy"of politicsin an
advancedindustrialsociety.
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