Category Archives: Social Control


malaika tucker-working on a assembly line (1)Alienation is defined by Jon Witt as a “loss of control over our creative human capacity to produce separation from the products we make, and isolation from our fellow producers.”  Karl Marx’s theory of alienation consists of four parts. The first is alienation from the product. This means, what you produce does not belong to you. A good example of this is working on an assembly line at a car factory. You have no control over the design and production protocol. The second is alienation from other people. This can mean you don’t get to spend time with people you enjoy being with because of your job or you chose not to be around or associate with others for your own personal reasons. People that fit in this category could also have a situation or job where they feel like they’re part of a secondary group and/or out-group. For example, car salesmen have commission-based jobs.  The more cars they sell, the more money they make.  Competition can develop between coworkers who are trying to beat one another out of a sale, causing coworkers to be distant. The third is alienation from work. This means your job becomes monotonous or automatic. malaika tucker-working on a fast food lineYour mind doesn’t even have to be there. An example of this would be making food at a fast food restaurant; you’ve memorized what ingredients go in which food item so well that your hands are just moving without you actually thinking about it.  Social control could be a reason why people end up in this category.  After trying to be a perfect worker and show obedience to your boss and also not draw any attention to yourself, before you know it, everything’s habitual. The fourth is alienation of the worker from himself as a producer from his/her species essence. This means humans are naturally inclined to work as long as this job engages their human spirit. An example of this would be an actor and actress. They don’t get to add their own spin to their lines, they have to say what’s written in the script; therefore this job does not engage their human spirit.



Marx’s Theory Of Alienation. Wikipedia, 20 February. 2013. Web.

Witt, Jonathan. Soc. New York: McGraw, 2012. 115. Print.


We have all seen them, “gangsters” walking around with saggy pants and baggy sweatshirts known for causing trouble and committing crime, or Goth’s with gaged ears and all black attire, known for being emotionally unstable and violent. These people are said to be deviant, with norms and values that differ from those of the greater society. These subcultures create their own norms and values that others see to be different, or deviant.

Norms are an established standard of behavior maintained by a society.  Norms can be formal, informal, folkways or mores. Formal norms are those that generally have been written down and specify strict punishment if violated. Laws are an example of formal norms. Informal norms are those that are understood but not necessarily recorded. Examples of informal norms include how one behaves in a college level classroom. Folkways are norms that govern everyday behavior but do not result in much concern if violated. Wearing acceptable clothing is an example of a folkway. Lastly, mores are norms that are seen as necessary to the welfare of society, and are based on what is right and wrong. Religious doctrines are an example of mores. Defying any of these norms can result in an individual being perceived as deviant. For an individual to conform is for him or her to go along with peers, acting in a similar manner. Just as one can conform to society, that is following social norms, one can also conform to a deviant group, acting in a way that is different from the rest of society.

Perhaps the most recognized deviant groups in society are criminals. Criminals can be individuals who commit crimes such as murder or assault, or small crimes such as income tax evasion or misinterpretation of advertisement. Whether the crime was a violent crime resulting in extreme punishment, or a small senseless one with little recognition, every move we make as humans has a sanction. Sanctions are tactics used by society to penalize or reward individuals for their behavior. Negative sanctions used for criminal activity, for example, include jail or prison sentencing, fines and community service. These sanctions are largely responsible for the “good behavior” of society, as individuals stray from behavior that could result in these negative sanctions. Positive sanctions are also part of keeping society under control, so to speak. These sanctions include praise or rewards for good behavior, such as a student being on the honor roll, or getting certificates for perfect attendance. Sanctions are a means of encouraging conformity to the standards of society, while also preventing individuals from becoming deviant.

All types of sanctions are a part of social control.  “We create norms to provide social order . . . we enforce them through social control – the techniques and strategies for preventing deviant human behavior in any society” (Witt 130). Social control can be exercised in families, by parents, in colleges, by teachers, or in government by the police or legislature. One example of social control in schools is the hidden curriculum. Just as sanctions teach individuals what is socially acceptable throughout life, the hidden curriculum is used in schools to teach children what behaviors are acceptable. For example, students learn to speak only when they are called on, and are taught how to socialize with authority figures in an acceptable way. These lessons are ones that will be critical throughout life, to conform to society.

Teachers are likely to have a life-long effect on their students. Not only do teachers demonstrate socially acceptable behavior to students, but they often label students as well. Labeling can both help and hurt a child while growing up. For example, if the teacher labels a student as dishonest at a young age, that child is likely to keep that label throughout his or her education. Labeling can also be seen as a sort of stereotyping. African Americans have been labeled as delinquents, bad kids or criminals for years. Labeling a group of people as bad, in this case, puts them at a disadvantage because they are more likely to accept that label.

Norms are more important in everyday life than most people know. Without norms, we would not know how to work together, how to work individually, or how to function as an entire community. Although there are disadvantages of having norms, such as having deviant individuals, norms are an absolute necessity of society.


Works Cited

Lunchcountersitin, . “Incarceration Rate per 100,000 Residents.” Chart. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009). Web.

Maricopa CountyJail. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <;.

Sackermann, Joern. Germany, Gothic People. Lightstalkers, Cologne. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Stylephotographs, . African Student Raising her Hand in University Class. 123RF. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Witt, Jon. SOC. 2012th ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.


We act a certain way based on where we are and who we are with. We categorize our attire with words like “formal” and “casual”. We adjust to any situation we are in. We obey many unspoken rules because we cannot imagine how others would react if we did not. What pressure causes people to confine themselves within the walls of “acceptable” social behavior?


The answer is conformity, which is a form of social control. It is the act of going along with peers—individuals of our own status who have no special right to direct our behavior. Included in this post is the theme music and video clip for a show called “Weeds,” and it gives a great visual representation of conformity in a suburban community. Conformity is parallel to obedience. To conform is such a natural behavior that we do not realize that we conform to societal standards every day. We do, however, acknowledge and enforce conformity when a member of society is being deviant (that describes a term called “negative sanctioning”). Deviance is parallel to disobedience. Essentially, that makes deviance the opposite of conformity. People are either rewarded or punished based on whether they conform to the behavior of their society. So, here is a question: If uniqueness is valued in some cultures, why are people punished for not conforming?


Conformity can be both good and bad. On the positive side, conformity maintains order. Society would be a complete mess if there was no form of social control. People would not be able to learn to function if their society had no guidelines. On the negative side, conformity suppresses the “black sheep” of society. Those who choose not to conform are negatively sanctioned and are pressured to behave. There are those who like to fit in and there are those who like to stand out. Luckily, there will always be deviant people, because without them, the accepted behaviors of societies would never be reinforced and conformity would be lost.

Works Cited

Weeds Theme Song. N.d. YouTube. YouTube, 05 May 2007. Web. 25 Feb. 2013. <;.


In a small town, a couple sits together on a bench, laughing. Their fingers are entwined and the young woman rests her head on the shoulder of the man beside her. A slight breeze produces goosebumps on the woman’s skin and she cuddles closer to her partner. He puts his arm around her to keep her warm and kisses her forehead. They are happy and in love. As time passes, people from around the town begin to rise from their houses and start their morning routine. The couple notices the stares, the angry looks, and the snarky comments coming from passer bys. This couple has an age difference. She is 17 and he is 25.

In the United States it is considered wrong and even illegal to have a relationship with such a large age difference. What makes it so wrong? A social norm is a term used to describe what is normal in society. For instance, we are expected to say please and thank you .It is expected that we wear clothes in public and shake hands when meeting someone. When a person or groups of people are disinclined to follow a social norm within their society they are participating in a concept known as deviance.  The couple that is in a relationship that is not following the social norms of society is being deviant. When you come from a family of straight A’s and you bring home a failing report card you are being deviant of your family’s social norms.

There are thousands of different social norms in society. A woman is expected to shave her legs, have no facial hair, be skinny, with a high pitched voice, smooth clean skin, and a graceful walk. It is expected or seen as normal for a man to be muscular, have short hair, and a low voice. So if a man grows his hair long or a woman doesn’t shave her legs, he or she is being deviant.

This video shows two males wearing a dress into a mall who get kicked out. It’s up to you to decide if it was the deviant act of the boys wearing the dresses that got them kicked out, or if what the officer was saying was the true reason.

Deviance is also in the eye of the beholder. The couple sitting on the bench may not feel that they are deviating from a social norm, they are in love and happy and feel there is nothing wrong with that. In other cultures it may be a social norm for a young girl to marry a man twice her age. In some cultures 16 is the proper age to marry. The couple on the bench may not see the deviance that others do.

If deviance is in the eye of the beholder then how do we decide what is normal and what isn’t? We do it through social control. Social control is the concept that prevents deviant behavior and enforces the wrong and the right of norms. When deviance occurs in society, some type of punishment is brought forth to show that what is happening is wrong. Another way of enforcing social norms is through rewards. Sanctions are the penalties and rewards that keep deviance from occurring and enforce our social control. In the situation involving the couple with an age difference, the sanction could be jail time. In the United States it is a deviation of a social norm administered by the state to be in a relationship with a minor, if you’re considered an adult which is 18 or older. This type of violation is considered a crime and the sanction will be administered by the state, i.e. jail time.


Deviance plays a major part in society. In order for something to be considered wrong, we need a
person or a group of people to deviate from the social norm. Once that deviance has occurred,
society will determine if it’s ok or wrong. If it considered ok then it will be incorporated into a social norm, but if it is considered wrong within society then it is a deviant action and a punishing sanction will be used. The “social construction of reality” is a phrase used by sociologist Berger and Luckmann to describe how we make our society through our actions, it is the process that occurs to decide what is considered normal or not in society.  For example, during the Victorian era, woman wore white makeup to make themselves look pale. Today we use spray tan or lay in the sun to look as tan as we can. In today’s society, if you wore white makeup like Queen Elizabeth did, you would be considered deviant. Deviance changes many times throughout history. How many different topics can you think of that were considered social norms before but are now considered deviant?

When you’re trying to decide what clothes to pick out,-so that you fit in with all your friends at school, you are trying to conform to a social norm instead of deviating from it. When you’re a male, and you use the urinal farthest from the other male in the bathroom, your conforming to a social norm; if you went to the closest one to him, you would be deviating and a sanction might be that he punched you for invading his personal space. Even though you might not know it, you actually worry about deviance in everything you do. In all the choices you make, you’re deciding how to conform to a social norm rather than deviate from it. Or, if you were trying to rebel that day, you may think of the many deviant acts that you could do. Though the couple on the bench is not worried about being seen by others, they did worry about what to wear that day, or how to act with each other. Together they are deciding what is deviant and not deviant in their relationship.

Works Cited

Witt, Jon. SOC 2011. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2011. 59-149. Print.


America is a postmodern society, a technologically sophisticated pluralistic, interconnected, globalized society (Witt122). One of the key elements of a postmodern society is networks. One of the major networks is the social network. A social network is a group or organization that allows people to have a broad outreach of other people, groups, or organizations and indirectly connect with them. “There are over 200 well known social network sites, with over 1.43 billion users. As of February 2013 Facebook is leading and Twitter is a close second for being the biggest social networking sites,” says Christian Arno writer of the article Worldwide Social Media Trends for 2012. The social network is growing three times faster than the overall growth of the internet. To help with better understanding of what social networking is, here a video on social network.

Now that you have seen that short clip on social network I would like to show, how social network affects the norms of our life. A norm is something we do or rules that we just embody as part of everyday life. I believe that the social network has become a norm for many people’s lives today.  Every day, multiple times a day, people are checking their Facebook news feed or reading a status on Twitter. According to the website, Mashable, “In 2006 people on average were spending about 2.7 hours a month on social networking sites. The average time spent now on social networking sites is about 7 hours a month.”. Therefore, I feel like social networking is becoming a norm in the average Americans life.

Many of these social networking sites require you to create a profile, just a few things about yourself. Once you have done this, for example on Facebook you can post a status or comment on a picture someone posted. These profiles allow people to view your values, a collective conception of what is considered good, desirable, or proper to yourself (Witt57).  On Facebook and Twitter, companies have their own page that people go to like or support or read about. A company may post a sale that it is having, and it is for everyone who follows them to see. Furthermore, you can make that page part of your in-group, a group or category to which people feel they belong (Witt108). Your personal in-group pages that you value are seen and can be liked by anybody with the same interests. By having the same interest in something as somebody else does, you two now have a connection through that page, thus making your friends and their friends able to see that page, indirectly connecting everyone in a social network.


With social networks being so large, there are good and bad things that come from them. That’s why I believe that their needs to be more social control on social networking sites. Facebook has led to some of the most deviant cases of cyber bullying on the social network. In 2012, I took writing 121, in which I wrote a research paper on cyber bullying. Being the twenty- first century, America is a postmodern society and “90% of teens are online” (Billitteri). Many of these teens are being tormented for what they consider to be the norms of their lives and their values attacked, because the abuser wishes to label them with a stigma, devaluing the person whom they view as different (Witt137).

Social networks have today, in some way, affected everybody  They help us find a job, are a dating service or aid in sharing music illegally. Social networks are growing every day, and growth is healthy for this economy. Growth just means we are moving forward as a society, and social networks are substantial elements for future growth.

Work Cited

Arno, Christian. “Worldwide Social Media Usage Trends in 2012” December 26, 2012 Article February 2013

Billitteri, T.J. “Are Laws Needed to Curb Online Aggression?” Cyberbulling (02 May 2008): 1-36 Article.22 Mar 2012.

Mashable, “this is how much time you spend on facbook, twitter, tumblr”. 1-8 Article 11/28/2012 February 2013

Wikipedia. Online encyclopedia/social network/definitions/pictures. February 2013

Witt, John. SOC 2012.1-450 Text Book/ 2012 February 2013

Wikipedia. Online encyclopedia/social network/definitions/pictures. February 2013

Youtube. Videos/ “what is social networking”/ February 2013


Differential justice is the differences in the way social control is exercised over different groups. In the US, African Americans and Latinos are disadvantaged in the justice system. On average, white offenders receive shorter sentences for equal crimes. Public officials, using their own discretion, based off their own biased options, decide whether or not to drop charges, to set bail and for how much, and if to even set parole or simply deny it. Seventy-six percent of victims in death penalty cases are white, and 41% of people on death row are African American. African Americans make up less than 15 percent of America’s  population, yet they are 40% of  people thrown into jail (BET). This can be contributed to poor access to legal representation. Poorer people have less access to better lawyers, ones who are not being over worked in the public sector.

“A defendant surrenders many civil rights upon conviction, but equal protection of the laws is not one of them (Angulo, Carlos, and Weich, Ronald).” Under a federal court consent decree, traffic stops by the Maryland State Police on I-95 were monitored. In the two-year period from January 1995 to December 1997, 70% of drivers stopped and then searched by the police were African American, while only 17.5% of overall drivers, as well as total speeders, were black (Angulo, Carlos, and Weich, Ronald). Minorities in the US as a whole are mistreated and wrongfully accused of crimes. The justice system treats whites better and gives larger breaks. How can such a small percentile commit more crimes than a population that completely out numbers them? The answer is simple, and it’s a concept known as differential justice. Minorities are often charged because they are a minority. They are considered deviant in the larger culture because they are different from the larger ethnic group, whites.

For example, O. J. Simpson was found not guilty, by a jury, for two murders on October 3, 1995. Since then most people believed him to have committed those two murders. In September of 2007, a group of men, led by O. J. Simpson, entered a room at the Palace Station hotel casino and took sports memorabilia at gunpoint. On October 3, 2008 O. J. Simpson and all the remaining members of the group were found guilty. On December 5, 2008 O. J. Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison. O. J. Simpson was more than likely treated unfairly in his trail, because of bias jury who still believed he had murdered the people back in 1994.

Our society has stereotypes, and will continue to have them for some time. Something that can be done to lessen the effects of bias in the justice system is retiring older members and putting in younger less biased people. Also there could be a media campaign that promotes equality between races. Remove stereotypes about a certain race commit certain crimes by providing more information. When it comes to poor representation in court we could raise taxes so that more public lawyers are available to poor individuals.


Work Cited

“Half of All Innocents in Jail Are Black .” BET, 2012. Web. 23 FEB. 2013.

Angulo, Carlos, and Weich, Ronald. (2011) “Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System”. WEB. 24 FED. 2013.