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Social Control

( Originally Published 1915 )

The Meaning of Social Control. — The orderly movement of society could not be brought about by accident or maintained without regulative forces; it is not an automatic machine which runs without directive agencies, or at the behest of the blind forces of a physical environment. Nor does it develop and function merely by reason of the unconscious social forces at work in its constituent members, each individual more or less blind to the social interests of the group and intent only upon his own selfish interests. In the chapter on Social Organization there were enumerated different constituent parts of society called, after Spencer, the regulating organs. In his regulating system Spencer points out the necessity of this great social function of control. And in Ross's admirable book on Social Control we find a special and complete presentation of the subject.

The blind social forces do, of course, play a certain part in the control of society. Ward has designated the process by the happy term " synergy," or the working together of unconscious individual forces towards a common end.' But, although social control is sometimes automatic and unconscious, society is moved in part by conscious purpose ; indeed, a directive agency plays an increasingly prominent part in society as social evolution proceeds. Thus while most of the elements of social control are to be found in the reactions of individual life, still we find that there must be a larger agency representing the social mass — that is, a social mind to give to society an orderly arrangement. Even if every individual loved his neighbor as himself and observed conscientiously the Golden Rule, there would still be necessity for a central controlling force to keep people in order ; for each individual, moving, as he does, in a direction of his own, and seeking to satisfy his own particular wants, would constantly find himself in opposition to his fellows. If, for example, two well-intentioned people should desire to occupy the same land at the same time, the right of the matter might be a difficult question for individuals to decide ; but the public mind, as embodied in the law and the courts, is prepared to settle the question. Take, for a moment, the figure of a procession.' Some one must tell individuals how and when to enter the procession, how to keep step with one another; some one must give them place, direction,, and time of movement.

In its beginnings, at least, social control is largely negative; the people are taught that certain things are tabooed. And to the very last, social control remains — to a greater or less degree — a restraint. When population is widely scattered, as it was, for instance, in the pioneer settlements of the United States, the theory of public social regulation is that the best government is that in which there is the least government. With a growing population, however, the consequent multiplication of contacts, and the mingling of different nationalities and races, the questions requiring regulation increase ; and, in the absence of common traditions, a common religion, the ties of kinship, and similar unofficial and spontaneous regulative agencies, such regulation must perforce be more largely public and official.

In social control there are two elements. One belongs to the unconscious, disinterested activities of society ; the other arises directly out of man's conscious desire for a controlling force. The church, for example, was instituted rather for culture than for control ; but it became incidentally — and sometimes with conscious intent — a powerful agent of control. On the other hand, the king, the standing army, the police force, and in fact, the entire political government, are instituted for the purpose of control.

The Basis of Social Order. — The basis of social order is found in individual desires and actions and the reactions resulting therefrom. We have discussed elsewhere the power of sympathy ; this power, by making an individual recognize the position of others, so modifies his actions toward his fellows that he hesitates to take a position which is positively detrimental to others. The desire for sociability is another control-ling force ; only non-social creatures can exist without some degree of social order. Carnivorous animals that hunt alone and desire to be alone have no need, of course, of a social order ; but should they desire sociability and prepare to perpetuate it, they would have to change their method of life. So, too, in primitive human groups, sociability cannot exist without at least the beginning of social order. But in civilized society, while sociability plays, on the whole, a comparatively unimportant part, it does, in the minor associations of life, exert a wholesome restraint upon man's combative nature. The boss and his gang, the social club, the church, the playground, and the neighborhood, all testify to its power, even yet.

The Sense of Justice. — From the individualistic stand-point, perhaps, one of the strongest influences for social control is that exerted by a sense of justice. Originating as it does in the sense of sympathy, it later develops positive characteristics of its own. And were there no other law-inducing influences, the sense of justice would be sufficient to establish some sort of social order. Justice is, in fact, the fundamental principle in all good government and, for that matter, in all phases of normal social life. Even in the social give-and-take of the child, this sense of fair play develops naturally as the child begins to form a conception of self. To a very limited degree a sense of justice is to be found among the lowest tribes ; but in the highly civilized nation, it is a full expression of the moral sense combined with the sense of power. What was an instinct in early childhood becomes later a strong control-ling force. That is, a sense of justice exerts this influence when the members of a group are equals ; but where there arise social classes, either by reason of conquest or exploitation, it fails. It is just these class differences, however, which, in the regulation of the class relationships, give rise to positive law, the formal expression of social control. Modern democracies, it is true, have taught a great deal about equality and fraternity ; but when one searches for the basis of their practical government, one finds — especially where there are di-verse racial characteristics among the governed — that justice founded on positive regulation is the dominant controlling influence. Fraternity and equality, as sentiments in the national life, may be of some service in developing friendly feeling; but justice is the only formal and well-established principle of social action. And just in proportion as modern governments emphasize the development and maintenance of justice among all members of the nation, will they settle those difficulties which arise from the attempt to socialize different races in the same community.

The Resentment of Injustice. — The resentment of injustice, or the individual reaction, is also essential to the development of social order. Even after the law of natural justice expressed in " an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth " is softened by the sentiments of civil justice, the right is still maintained to resent injustice to any degree and in any manner whatever. It is, indeed, that very resentment against injustice which has helped to make so many of our laws. Man encroaches, for example, upon the rights of his fellows; and knowing that we should resent such an injustice toward ourselves, we resent it for others because of our sympathy for them. If there were no resentment, there would be no strife ; and without strife, the weak would perish because society took no notice of them.

Thus, through the interplay of the activities of separate individuals, there is an opportunity to work out a natural order of society. And were no other agency to appear than the simple methods arising out of the normal activities of human society, there would still be established a social life with a more or less orderly arrangement?

Control through Belief. — The agencies of social control now dominant are a development. Some of them did not exist among men's first devices to regulate their relations to one another. Law and even public opinion developed late. Ceremony, custom, and superstitious beliefs were the first agencies working toward social control.

The belief in supernatural sanctions to conduct arose early.

Legal and social sanctions are paralyzed sometimes by the superior power of the offender ; they are expensive and, after all, only reach the outward deed ; and finally they do not control the motives of the heart.' But the chief reason, perhaps, for the development of supernatural sanctions is that, as has been indicated in a previous chapter,2 when man reached the animistic stage of culture, religious practices became fundamental life activities. First the spirits inhabiting natural objects and later the gods or god of the tribe were interested in the doings, in the very life processes of the individuals of the group. Here was a tremendous force brought to bear upon the inadequately socialized impulses of men. Their belief in these gods, more potent, more wise than they, went to the very foundations of conduct and seriously modified the motives of primitive men.

These sanctions, as Professor Ross has pointed out, may be divided into five classes. The elementary belief controlling conduct is that there is a supernatural being, or beings, who follows men's doings, rewards the good, and punishes the bad. A second group of sanctions is to be found in the beliefs typified by the Hindu doctrine of transmigration of souls. The souls are reborn in this world — the bad into the bodies of animals or low caste men, the good into the bodies of Brahmins, Devas, or kings. Every motive of the Hindu is colored by the belief in these definite rewards for approved social conduct. A third kind of sanction rests upon the belief in an after life, spent, as the case may warrant, either in an everlasting heaven of delights or a perpetual hell of torture. One has only to read medieval theology or see medieval paintings to appreciate the strength of these sanctions in deterring certain classes of people from socially undesirable acts. A fourth type of sanction is dependent upon the penances exacted by ecclesiastics. The sinner's punishment does not wait for another life ; it begins here and now. He is banished from communion ; he is avoided ; he is denied confession, connubial rights, and the ordinary companionship of associates. These are punishments which make amends for evil conduct and in some unexplained way purify the soul from sin. The fifth type appears when the person to be controlled is bound by tender ties with deceased relatives or friends. The spirits of these loved ones look down from heaven and see the actions of those who remain on earth ; the mother her erring, but beloved, boy or girl ; the wife her husband ; the child its parent, who is resisting the appeals of the church. Thus the love for the departed, combined with a belief that the deceased lives and knows and cares, constitutes a controlling force of great strength.

Control by Social Suggestion. — But control by means of legal penalties, social opinion, and belief in supernatural sanctions are not the only methods by which the wills of men have been brought into subjection. Sanctions are quite conscious in their operation and depend for much of their power upon the fear of consequences which they are able to instill. Social suggestion, though none the less effective, works much less in the open. Somewhat resembling hypnosis, social suggestion operates subconsciously, for the most part, because the individual, while awake and conscious of his acts, does not under-stand clearly from what motives he is performing them. His response to social suggestion, therefore, is mute, but eloquent, testimony to the strength of his social impulses. At all times we are doing things, when in the company of others, which we should not do when alone. This social atmosphere which we breathe presses upon us with a force often unrecognized, but which really moves us almost whithersoever it listeth.

Social suggestion varies in its force with the bodily and mental condition of the person upon whom it operates ; one who is fatigued, diseased, or nervously worn out is most readily controlled. It varies also with the prestige and authority of him who offers the suggestion ; it varies with the mass or volume of suggestion, which wears down resistance by the sheer force of authority, or by means of the familiarity which reiteration brings ; and finally it varies with the effectiveness of the social provisions designed to prevent the entrance of conflicting suggestions into the mind of the individual.

Suggestion secures its results by a number of methods and devices, example being one of the important means. We elevate to a pedestal and crown with a wreath the man who displays desirable social qualities. We build shafts to the memory of the brave, the heroic, and the successful ; we canonize the recluse and apotheosize the martyr. The glamour round their deeds stirs the emotions of the young and creates in them certain social desires ; but in the interests of social welfare, the vices of these same heroes, martyrs, and saints are forgotten.

Faith in the unrealized potentialities of men is another method of social suggestion. Many are those who had courses of conduct suggested to them by some one who expected great things from them ; many are those who have been spurred on to live up to another's faith in them. The very secret of the power of the Gospel is to be found in its sublime faith in the universal capacity of men to achieve salvation from their weaker and baser selves. Prophet, apostle, and modern evangelist, as well as statesman, admiral, and king, well know the force of suggestion conveyed through an expression of faith in a man's ability to do the seemingly impossible. Again, social suggestion operates through the force of ideals conveyed by the written and the spoken word. Vicious reading matter is tabooed ; descriptions of lewd, brutal, and criminal acts are forbidden ; seditious speech or writing is suppressed. And not only is literature censored so that the noble idealism of youth may not too soon be shattered by acquaintance with the hard facts of life, but even conversation is directed in the interests of social purity. All these precautions are based upon the acknowledged truth that Vice

"too often seen, familiar with its face
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."

The most striking example of suggestion for the control of men is to be found in that combination of all these various methods which we employ in our systems of education. By means of example, reiterated precept, stern discipline, the emotional stimulation of play, and the rough-and-tumble democracy of the playground, and through faith in their capabilities expressed by one for whom they have either high regard or great fear, the plastic minds of the young are molded into a more or less uniform type.

Not less potent is the social suggestion exercised by custom and tradition — a molding process that is commenced long before a child begins his schooling. By reason of their connection with the home life, with all of the deepest and most lasting emotions, custom and tradition show a strength second to no other influence. How often the language learned and the habits formed in early childhood sticks to one like burs from. the forest jungle ! Certainly if custom dominates in such socially insignificant matters, how much greater an influence has it on the customs affecting social policies and ideals ! More-over, the traditions handed down at the crisis-periods of human development — the period when the child hungers and thirsts for facts and explanations more even than for his more than welcome daily bread, and the period of adolescence with its house of dreams — exercise an influence, the potency of which can best be estimated on the religious side. Endowed with all the prestige of age these traditions are passed on from one generation to the next. And those customs and traditions having to do with social control are enforced by the conscious recognition of the wise that such customs and traditions constitute the very props of social order.'

Control of Social Religion. — After society reaches a certain stage of development, the legalistic foundations of religion give way. In the latter days of the Roman Empire the gods of Greece and Rome faded into myths. Their penalties no longer inspired fear ; their rewards no longer tempted man to curb his selfish and anti-social desires. And legal religion„ in many countries to-day, is undergoing the same process of decay; it has ceased to be the right hand of social control, and in increasing numbers men refuse to be curbed in their propensi-. ties by the fear of a god whose laws they desire to break.

In Rome, the period of decaying belief in the old gods and their sanctions was also the beginning of national decay. The stern morality of the earlier days disappeared ; in the higher circles of society the sanctity of the home and of family relationships vanished. One of the very reasons for the success of Christianity in the Roman Empire was the fact that it sup--plied a living faith in place of the dying faiths of the Romans. It supplied, it is true, a legal religion in the place of a legal religion ; but it supplied more than that. Along with its legality there went the inconsistent but closely amalgamated element of fraternalism — a fraternalism which was already to be found in the various guilds and fraternities of the Empire, but which lacked, in these, the emotional content of fraternity under the Fatherhood of one God.

The sense of brotherhood that came with the belief in a god who was represented as a merciful father to his children gave to early Christianity a remarkable controlling power ; for the wild natures of men were just released from the superstitious fear of gods who did not feel with them in their miseries. The one saving force in the Roman Empire, therefore, was the Christian church. That that church learned to rule from the Empire and changed its form in order that it might rule the more easily the disorganized masses of uncontrolled people within and without the confines of that ancient state only testifies to the lack of religious insight in its leaders, not to the in-ability of social religion to control its adherents. And even after this ecclesiastical machinery had well-nigh choked the spiritual life of the church, she still remained a fraternity that gripped men with great power ; she was still the instrument of a social religion ; she still opened up the wells of emotion in the soul of men hungry for peace with the Infinite.

That, without adulteration of any sort, this social religion would have become an efficient method of social control cannot be proved from history; for, except in the isolated cases of individuals like St. Augustine, Luther, and St. Frances of Assisi, the experiment has never been tried. That, with a more completely developed social consciousness among men, a more highly socialized population, and the proclamation of such a religion by men earnest and sincere in their faith, it would meet the needs of men and prove an efficient means of bringing the will of men into subjection to the social necessities of our day, is the belief of an increasing number of thoughtful souls in our generation. Is it, indeed, without significance that the struggling, downtrodden classes of to-day hail the name of Him who was the first to proclaim a social religion of brother-hood for all men under one common Father?

Control by Personal Ideals. — In society men can lift themselves by their bootstraps. The ideals which prevail in a man's group have immense power to mold his animal and egoistic impulses as well as his coldly calculating intellectual processes. He is moved by the power of ideals which appeal to his self-respect or which are forced upon him by his class or party.

Thus we have, according to Ross, a separation of these personal ideals into two classes. There is the group-ideal of conduct, which may in time be made a personal ideal by each individual in the group ; and there is the personal ideal which a man creates for himself out of regard for his self-respect, for the sake of his honor, or, if he does not realize his ideal, from the contemplation of his shame. It is the control of type which causes men in different classes to be governed by different ideals. For example, the minister might be guilty of conduct unbecoming a minister while doing what would be considered proper for the laborer or the policeman. It may even happen that a man's own ideals are much lower than those to which society holds him ; but he is true to the higher ideals because of the consciousness that he is a member of a class which he must not disgrace. Custom and habit rule him. On the other hand, the man who is critical of self, who has escaped from an unthinking subservience to social custom or to class ideals, asks himself what kind of conduct he ought to require of himself in order to retain his own sense of moral and personal worth. He is coerced into a course of conduct, not by the opinion of others, but by his own judgment of what his conduct will mean to himself, and to society. His conscience is not deter-mined by fear of the reprobation of his fellows or of his class, but by the sufferings which he will undergo from the whip of his own moral judgment. This personal ideal, it is true, may not control as many people as does the fear of the disapprobation of their class ; but the type and the personal ideal together exert enormous influence in the determination of men's conduct in society.'

Social Control by Ceremony. — Who among us, even in this democratic country and in this rationalistic age, has not felt the spell of ceremony? Every act of unusual significance is surrounded by mysterious rites, whether among the primitive savages of Australia or the highly civilized peoples of Europe or America. And it is not only the imagination of the child or of the ignorant man that is enthralled ; ceremony stirs elementary emotions even in the souls of the cultivated, who understand its motive and have seen through its mystery, as if by the force of some dim memory of paths once trodden by innumerable ancestors. This mysterious and complicated series of unintelligible acts hushes into awe and reverence the wild surgings of elemental passion. And under the spell of these elementary emotions, the will is dominated by the insinuating suggestions of those in charge of the ceremony and the whole person is subjected to the influence of the presiding personality or group.

Ceremony gathers about our most sacred institutions and tinges them with an impressiveness they do not naturally possess and which they sorely need, if they are to withstand the shock of unrestrained human impulses and desires. Marriage, the institution which bridles for us one of the most ungovernable passions of man and brings it into subjection to the welfare of society ; initiation among primitive folk into the responsibilities of manhood and womanhood ; entrance into the church, or lodge, or business corporation ; the disposition of the dead, that act by which man is reminded of his connection with other beings and with the supernatural sanctions which are attached to the dead — all these are occasions when it is important for the welfare of society that each onlooker be most impressively reminded that he has important social duties.'

Control by Means of Art. — By means of poetry, eloquence, painting, sculpture, music, and its various other forms, art has power to control man through the domination of his feelings. When men must be quickly fused into a living unity, the emotions are always appealed to ; and nothing moves the emotions like art. Take, for example, the Psalm-singing of Cromwell's Ironsides and the songs of the German soldiery as they marched to the front in the present war. Art, moreover, arouses social sympathy. It is like play, which really began as an art ; for, by exciting their emotions it loosens the restraints which separate men and it binds them together by a common feeling. Its appeal is universal ; the sentiments which it arouses are common to all men. It is used in war, in religion, and in the establishment of a new order of things. Everywhere is the aesthetic sense exploited in the interests of society. Saints and heroes are painted with beatific countenances, while devils and their human disciples are given the most detestable forms. And whereas moral excellence is described in such aesthetic terms as to make the quality intelligible and desirable to all, antisocial conduct, on the other hand, is stigmatized by adjectives and pictured in colors which are associated with the undesirable things of everyday life.

There is still another way in which art fastens upon our common longings and converts them to social purposes. The soul oppressed with the pettiness, the brevity, and the insufficiency of life's endeavors is given hope for the fulfillment of its vast desires ; for art points to the stability of the nation, the immutability of the group, and the mightiness of the human race. All may be fleeting, so far as the individual is concerned ; but the lofty buildings, the vast territory, or the achievements of a state give to the individual a sense of security and permanence.

Another thing that art does for us is to glorify our social symbols. The flag becomes a thing of great beauty ; and the splendor of precious metals and jewels is used to draw men's attention from the suffering and self-abnegation of the individual for the sake of the group. War, missions, and individual sacrifices for public service are all thus glorified. Again, art pictures the worker as the happiest of all men. He is " God's nobleman," the " bulwark of the state "; and his pains and deprivations are " heroic joys." The nation for which he is asked to die, or to live through days of painful toil, is a fair maiden or matron appealing to the deepest and strongest feelings in man, the emotions stirred by thought of wife, sweet-heart, or mother. Thus, national types like the Gibson girl in physical appearance spring up and moral types like that of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress.' Thus the artist fascinates our imaginations with new types of conduct to which we naturally may be alien and pictures saint and hero in such a way that they become models to which we are irresistibly drawn. Thus does art lure men on to the great and noble deeds from which they naturally recoil, yet which are so necessary for society's welfare.

Control through the Influence of Personal Suggestion. --Probably the first steps in social control were taken by dominant personalities. Leadership and submission are to be observed even in animal life. And although the influence of what we call personality is especially noticeable in primitive societies where the social structure, being much less developed, plays a subordinate part in social control, yet the influence of example is not to be despised, even among a people with the most highly evolved social structures. The great man plays his part in society to-day just as always ; although democracy has trans-formed him from a captain of armies to a captain of industry or a leader in education and thought, she still has need of him.

The conditions favoring the control of a group by a strong personality are, as stated by Professor Ross, great excitement, the aggregation of individuals in mobs and masses, and " times of alarm and stress." But the causes of his authority are to be found, in part, at least, in the natural qualities which the leader himself possesses. He has a fine physique, unusual mental qualities for example, strength of will and imagination — an ecstatic temperament, eloquence, faith in himself and his cause, courage and persistence, coolness in excitement, generosity and love, or a number of these in combination. And the force of such qualities is supplemented by the admiration aroused in men by the social distinction which a leader has either inherited or achieved through his abilities.

In the natural development of leadership, now some of these conditions and personal qualities count most and now others. In primitive societies, where control is by persons rather than by social institutions, the emphasis is upon natural ability. And in these early societies, control is based upon fear, trust, and either a selfish or a disinterested admiration. With the growth of disinterested admiration, there develops " a charm of persons " which seizes upon' the very citadel of man's being — the imagination and the feelings.

And, just as in a society which is military in its organization conditions themselves are very favorable to the ascendancy of personal influence, so, too, does racial stratification favor hero-worship. Again, feudal relations, in which the conquered at least so far yield to the conquerors as to accept the inferior position, promote the power of personal suggestion. It is democracy, indeed, which is least favorable to the control of the many by a single leader. With the formation of social devices which make for the wide dissemination of culture, with the opening of the doors of opportunity to every capable man, there goes a lessening of those social conditions which give artificial emphasis to natural differences between men. Leader-ship now becomes preeminence of ability — a leadership which we shall never cease to need. For democracy in political, religious, industrial, and social life raises the dignity of the average man, develops to the utmost his responsibility, and therefore diminishes the value of prestige. Thus does democracy, in emphasizing the importance of the common man, destroy the bonds of the old social control and bring into operation other forces of quite a different character.

It may excite surprise that society should command the services of leaders for purposes of social control ; for the strong man, in seeking his own ends, may wish to control other men in the interest, not of society, but of himself. Now, just what are the motives which lead the powerful personality to link him-self with those tendencies which make for social control?

He does so because he is usually a man of remarkable mental discernment and sees that the issues of his own life are wrapped up in the larger issues of the group to which he belongs. If he has noble enthusiasm and ambitions, if he loves power and achievement, he perceives, for one thing, that the objects and achievements of society are so much more worth while than anything which he might desire for his own selfish purposes. And, too, he realizes that, by controlling others in the interests of society, he can accomplish infinitely more than he ever could alone. The constituted authorities of State and Church, the ideals which possess the soul of a people, and the customs of unnumbered generations, yield slowly to any one man, be he never so powerful. If he oppose them, he can accomplish but little, but with them he can move the nation. Moreover, the comparative immortality of society impresses his imagination ; his deeds, standing alone, will probably perish from the memory of men, but linked with the fortunes of the community, they are assured undying fame. And rare is the great leader who does not crave a share in the eternal character of the group's achievements. Hence, in degrees varying with both the character of the great man and the prevailing conditions of society, the influence of his personality is devoted to the interests of society.'

Social Control through Intellectual Factors. — An appeal to the feelings is not the only method of controlling individuals ; another way is to influence the reason and the will. This intellectual influence may be secured by offering enlightenment, by creating an illusion, or by influencing social valuations.

(a) A man is often influenced in his conduct by having the consequences of his acts presented to him ; for considerations of prudence determine the actions of most of us. The social group, by disseminating information as to the physical consequences of personal habits and actions, for example, may control a man by showing him the effects of vice upon his own welfare and happiness. Thus the modern war against vice and the present health campaigns are both largely an appeal to a man's appreciation of his own welfare or the welfare of those with whom he is most intimately connected. Or society tries to bring home to the individual the psychical results of individual conduct. We inform the individual that an action, repeated often enough, becomes a habit, that one kind of vice often drags another in its train, and that mental delinquency in one line brings certain other mental consequences in its train. We say, " Sow a thought and reap an act ; sow an act and reap a habit ; sow a habit and reap a character ; sow a character and reap a destiny."

But besides showing a man the physical or psychical con-sequences upon himself, the organized agencies of social control may inform him of the social consequences of ill-advised con-duct. From the reaction of individuals whose rights he has infringed, or from the reaction of society which, like a kind of superparent, cares for the interests of all its children by curbing the excessively egoistic conduct of some, he suffers loss of social esteem, the respect of his fellows, and the honor which society loves to bestow upon the deserving. These reactions are a means of teaching a man that his individual actions affect others than himself — a lesson but slowly learned by the best of us. This sense of social solidarity the group tries, at a very early stage, to develop in its members ; and gradually each member learns to consider his own welfare in terms of the welfare of the community. Says Ross, " History records the reflections of the Elite upon the conduct of life, but neglects the forces that held in their humble social orbits the yeoman and the artisan. Yet it is safe to surmise that in all free communities there was an exudation of proverb and aphorism, gnome and parable, legend and moral tale, tending to bring about a canny adjustment of men to the requirements of life in common. That underground growth we call folklore was full of salty maxims and pithy counsels which gave shape to multitudes of obscure, unhorizoned lives."

In all these ways does enlightenment assist in that socializing process which we call social control. These methods have their drawbacks, it is true ; for social morality and personal welfare are sometimes at variance. There is war, for example, or self-sacrifice to disease in order that the group may be saved; and, too, education does not always supply motives strong enough to control people of ordinary mental caliber ; knowledge of the truth does not always induce that emotional impulse which constitutes the motive power of action. On the whole, however, the more enlightened the people are, the better does this method of social control work ; as society comes to the point in its intellectual development where reason rules, rather than fear or impulse, control by information becomes more effective. The method has the double advantage, therefore, that, as society becomes group conscious, enlightenment is increasingly effective and that, on the other hand, as enlightenment grows in influence, society becomes more conscious of itself and of its needs. Thus control becomes less and less a matter of instinct and sympathy and more a matter of rational consideration.

(b) Another device by which the judgment of the individual is swayed is illusion. When information and intelligence will not secure social control, some other method must be found. One of these is to employ deception and misrepresentation, to use half-truths and prejudices concerning, not only the super-natural realm of religion, but the everyday experiences of men. And because most people are neither strictly logical in their thinking nor scientific in their criticism of what purports to be truth, because men seldom are entirely free from prejudices of one sort or another, this method has considerable chance of success. A few examples will suffice to show how common and widespread are the illusions which still exercise control over men. The theory is still prevalent that the righteous will never be found forsaken, that his children will never need to beg bread. Originally, when there was a religious sanction for right conduct, such a theory had some significance ; but as interpreted in modern times, it is pseudorational. In spite of our desire to make it the truth, we are forced to admit that this axiom of conduct does not always correspond with the hard facts of life. But our heroes of the drama, of song, of story, and of theology, all triumph. The worthy man succeeds; the mean man suffers. The soldier's widow and orphans will be bountifully cared for. And he who dies in the morning of his life gains fame and immortality.

"The brave

Die never. Being deathless, they but change

Their country's arms for more, their country's heart."

O, fortunata mors, qua nature debita pro patria est potissimum reddita! 2 (Happy the death of him who pays the debt of nature for his country's sake.) On such illusions are built most of the superstructure of militarism.

Of a similar stripe are the political illusions of a group some-what more developed than is the military society. The doctrine of the divine right of kings, so long dominant in history, and still surviving in the undeveloped nations, is a semireligious, semirational sanction with which to soothe nascent thinkers back into somnolent obedience. Nor does a democracy escape political illusions. Much of the solicitude for the people, much that is done in the name of political progress, is pure buncombe on the part of candidates. A study of the discussions for the last twenty years of the tariff question or the liquor problem, here in the United States, will show how the politicians seize upon certain phases of these questions in order to secure popular favor.

Another illusion that has worked in the interests of social control is asceticism, so often employed by the church to tame men. Whether Catholic or Puritanic, it finds its real explanation in its power to catch the imagination of men, appeal to their desire for release from the evils of a bad social order, and bring them into some semblance of social regularity and use-fulness. Asceticism fits in with an economy of pain, as Patten puts it. Based on an illusion impossible save as pain-wrought ideals dominate men's minds, it pretends to be absolutely self-renouncing, when, as a matter of fact, it is only another form of selfishness; for it offers security and rest to the disturbed soul in the midst of the unrest of social disturbance.

But it is not only in militancy, politics, and certain stages of religion, that illusion has been used to subdue the individual for the good of society. Illusion holds sway in industry as well. Do the anthracite coal workers strike for certain demands, they and the freezing or overcharged public are given to under-stand that there is such a thing as the divine right of coal barons. If workers demand collective bargaining, they are met with the almost unchallenged illusion of " freedom of contract " and the contention that every man has a right to work. By such half-truths do the lords of industry endeavor to cudgel into submission the rising judgment of the workers. And any economic theories, once they have served the purpose of economic liberation, are repeatedly invoked in the interest of social control. Thus laissez faire, once the shibboleth of the English industrial revolution, is now seen to have been an illusion with which industry whipped into uniformity and reduced to control the social heterogeneity of the eighteenth century.

Even in education, half-truths survive and dominate the minds of men. What does it signify that the professors in some of our colleges and universities insist so strenuously on the recognition of an aristocracy of letters? Why do they accept with such alacrity and satisfaction the adulation and reverence of the multitudes? With the exception of those few who foster this attitude from purely selfish motives, they do it because such a view of education serves as a most excellent instrument for control of the multitudes.'

(c) The social valuations which are a man's social heritage are potent in swaying his judgment. Standards of conduct and ideals of character are created by society. And since these standards and ideals are intended to be applied to others than the makers of them, they are usually higher than those possessed by the leaders who make them. But their nature is such that men are willing to take them for their own.

These social valuations are placed on the things that make for group safety, such as courage, honesty, and faithfulness; they are given to the things which are cooperative in nature, such as play and sociability ; they are given to music and art, to the love of money and women, to all things which do not consume strength or clash with the interests of others. By means of example, exhortation, suggestion, and the quoting of tradition and custom these valuations are crowded home upon the individual with almost irresistible power. And, yielding to this pressure, he makes his social choices in accordance with the valuations made by society, almost unconscious that they are being handed to him ready-made. By means of song and story they are suggested even to the child; they permeate our table conversation and the talk of the street ; they are preached from pulpit and platform ; they are embedded in the homely wisdom of proverb and epigram. Finally, they are enforced by the social sanctions of esteem, social distinction, and by the penalties of disfavor, disgrace, and blame. Strong, indeed, is the character who can rise above these social valuations — or subnormal in his mental processes.

There are many ways, therefore, in which the unstable, egoistic individual can be molded into some semblance of uniformity with his fellows and be made to follow lines of conduct compatible with the definite, common ends of social life. And be the appeal an emotional one — through belief, through social suggestion, through a social religion, through ceremonies, art, or the influence of dominating personalities — or be it an intellectual one, society controls the individual in the interests of the group, and transforms his variant impulses, his selfish desires, and his antisocial ambitions into social forces, or curbs them in the interests of social safety.

Means of Control arising from Voluntary Association. — Many of the institutions which have been potent influences in the orderly arrangement and progress of society were created for specific purposes other than those of the establishment and regulation of social order. The church, for instance, has culture for its aim, the transformation of the individual from one mode of thought to another. But to carry out this purpose, it re-quires a great organization extending over all parts of the community and thus reducing to social order a large number of people. It is, therefore, one of the most powerful socializing influences that can be named. In the same way, although to a less degree than the church, have scientific societies, fraternal orders, and recreation societies of all sorts a wonderful socializing power.

Means of Control through Public Opinion and Law. — Public opinion is a general means of control which supplements formal law and government. On rather a moral than a legal basis, it moves with less exactness than law and government ; and being more flexible in its nature, it is less definite in its immediate results. In the long run, however, its service in social control is of a highly important nature. It anticipates violations of the law and uses its influence before as well as after a crime has been committed. Without president, secretary, or board of control to dictate its actions, and without any prerogative or legal sanction, it yet has the full force of public authority to act immediately and informally. Law is the formal means of control, by means of which people's lives are regulated, their rights, duties, and privileges defined, the offenses against individuals and society determined, and the punishments for violators provided. And the government, instituted for the enforcement of law, is able, by exercising a police control over the community, to maintain social order. Without the regulating power of the government it would be impossible to carry on any of the functions of society.


GIDDINGS, F. H. Principles of Sociology, pp. 420-422.

KIDD, BENJAMIN. Social Evolution, pp. 29-58.

MALLOCK, W. H. Labor and Popular Welfare, pp. 17-50, 130-150. Ross, E. A. Social Control, Part II.

SCHAEFFLE, AUGUST. Bau und Leben des socialen Kφrpers, Vol. I, pp. 689-700.


1. Name some individual characteristics which make social control necessary.

2. What social ends are in danger of defeat at the hands of individual activities which are not socially controlled?

3. What fundamental fact in society makes social control necessary?

4. Name, under the following classes, the agencies of social control in a community with which you are acquainted : (a) organized institutions for control ; (b) institutions not organized specifically for control, but serving that purpose incidentally; (c) other agencies.

5. Show why social control is more necessary in a dense than in a sparse population ; in times of war than in peace ; in a mixed than in a homogeneous population; in a society stratified into classes than in one unstratified.

6. Suggest reasons for thinking that social control will become more necessary in America; that social control may become less necessary in America.

7. Name some means which are not now in use, but which were employed by society to control individuals in the Elizabethan age. Name some methods peculiar to our day.

Outlines Of Sociology:
Psychical Activities

Social Control

Aims Of Society

Ideals Of Government

Control By Force

Educational Method

Social Inequalities

Ideal Of Justice

Estimation Of Progress

Nature Of Social Pathology

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