Tag Archives: Social Control
What happens when people realize the police aren’t coming? What happens when people decide that their political leaders are unjust and must be removed from power? What happens when you realize that there is no formal authority that you can count on to keep you safe? In this piece Nathan Palmer uses the current crisis in Egypt to try and answer these questions and discuss the concepts of social control and social cohesion.
As I write this Egypt is in conflict. On July 3rd the democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, was removed from power and jailed by the Egyptian military. Since then Morsi’s supporters and supporters of the military’s forced change in leadership have been having fighting. Hundreds of Egyptians who support Morsi have been killed in clashes with the military and much of the rest of the country is in disarray. There are multiple reports of bands of vigilantes turning violent across the country and multiple Coptic Christian churches have been destroyed.
Egypt gives us a window into what happens when a nation-state partially loses it’s formal authoritative control. While it would be wrong to use one anecdotal case to make a broad generalization about all societies, this one case does suggest that in the absence of rock solid formalized authority violence, death and destruction can emerge. The crisis in Egypt brings up many sociological questions, but I’d like to focus on just one of them today: What are the social structures that keep a society from falling into violence and chaos? To answer this question, we will need to discuss the concepts of social control and social cohesion.
In March, a Florida couple made headlines after forcing their 13 year-old daughter to stand at a busy intersection for an hour and half, holding a sign that described her many sins, including poor grades and lack of respect for authority. In this post, Ami Stearns uses the increasingly popular practice of public shaming to illustrate informal social control of minors.
Are you in on the adorable pet shaming trend (e.g. DogShaming.com)? Dog owners pose their dogs with signs that describe the pet’s most recent bad behavior, such as “I just rolled in cow poop so now I can’t come inside” or “I ate all Mom’s Girl Scout cookies” and post the photo on the Internet for all the world to see. Public shaming is a type of informal social control that seeks to not only bring shame to the deviant but also to warn others that the type of behavior being punished is inappropriate. While it’s mildly amusing to see a cat being publicly shamed for its Cheetos-binge and ensuing orange vomit, when it the shaming is of a child, the dynamic changes.