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Social control

Social control (civil justice or social justice) is the process within society which both formally, through law, and informally, through customs, norms, and mores; attempts to influence and order the actions of social groups and their members and thus create public order. Social control is generally considered to be inversely related to individual rights. Social control is espoused by Packer's[?] crime control model of justice, which argues that arrest and conviction are the goals of criminal justice. In medieval England, the public order was known as the King's Peace.

Those who advocate that social control is more important are called, social control advocates or public control advocates. This school of thought holds that it is better to execute, imprison, or otherwise punish an innocent[?] person; than it is to let a criminal go free. Advocates tend to argue for decreased civil rights. This is traditionally associated with the conservative right-wing philosophy.

Formal social control is generally overt, involves written rules or laws, enforcement by law enforcement personnel, who are entrusted with a monopoly on violence and imprisonment, and formal sanctions imposed by a court. Because the responsibility associated with this trust is great, strict ethical codes[?] usually apply to those professions and individuals who are entrusted with these powers.

Informal social control is generally unwritten but generally understood by members of a society. Such control is enforced informally by sanctions such as criticism, disapproval, shaming, or isolation.

Some sociologists consider these informal means more effective in long-term conditioning, but usually they are less effective at responding to the emergencies and panics that arise when anti-social behavior is extreme. Accordingly, systems such as criminal justice evolve to ensure that strict rules are followed and social capital is not wasted as individuals and authorities respond to such problems.

Formal study of social control falls within the academic disciplines of anthropology, economics, history, law, political science, psychology, sociology, and theology.

See also: criminal justice, social capital, ethics



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