Crack your assignment with step-by-step assignment guide
  • Step-by-step guide
  • List of credible sources
  • An outline of arguments

Social Control: Definition & Description

Categories: ControlSocial Norms

Social control, to me, refers to the organization of different sectors within society to maintain order. It is set in place to ensure and provide the enforcement of rules. For example, drivers are expected to use the traffic lights as a tool to know when it is permissible to continue driving, or if there’s a need to either slow down or stop. Social control is a strategy that has proven itself to be practical, in consideration of both individuals and institutions (Carmichael 2012).

For instance, a certain behavior is expected from peers and family members (individuals) along with jobs and schools (organizations). The overall use of social control is targeted toward those who portray themselves to be a threat and/or problem to society, in attempt of instilling discipline (Carmichael 2012).

In my personal description, social control is the enforcement of rules, laws and social expectations. It serves society as a guideline of acceptable behavior and activity. In order to fully understand the description of social control, on would have to divide it into two categories.

First, there’s informal social control, which refers to an adaption to a set of rules, regulations and standards viewed as normal by society (Crossman, 2019). Family, teachers, and caregivers are usually the ones to enforce this type of social control. For example, at a doctor’s office, everyone knows to wait in line and check in to be seen by a caregiver. Also, within the school environment, students all know that if they want to ask a question, their hand must be raised to get the instructor’s attention.

Top Writers
Professor Harris
Verified expert
4.9 (457)
Verified expert
4.8 (756)
Writer Jennie
Verified expert
4.8 (467)
hire verified writer

This is known as normal behavior in society. The other type is formal social control, referring to the enforcement of laws with the help of police, military, and other agencies (Crossman, 2019). For example, police officers may need to perform an arrest, pertaining to unacceptable behavior to maintain order. With the presence of law officials, people within society are known to act accordingly.


  1. Carmichael, J. (2012 June 26). Social Control. Retrieved from
  2. Crossman, A. (2019 January 19). Definition of Social Control: Overview of a key concept in sociology. Retrieved from

Cite this page

Social Control: Definition & Description. (2021, Feb 26). Retrieved from

Are You on a Short Deadline? Let a Professional Expert Help You
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7