Social Groups And Social Control

Marco Tamayo
Chapter 7
Sociologist and criminologist may define gangs as a group of people who come together for purposes to be deviant or criminal by the larger society. U.S. government sources estimate that about 26,500 gangs, containing a785, 000 gang members, have been active in the United States in recent years. There are also cliques or friendship circles, whose members identify one another as mutually connected. And according to Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler cliques have a hierarchical structure, being dominated by leaders. Although cliques may have some similarities with gangs, there are some differences. Gangs play a large role in the economy of many low-income urban neighborhoods, where residents often believe that they must do whatever it is in order to survive.


Deviance is any behavior, belief, or condition that violates significant social norms in the society or group in which it occurs. We may think of deviance as a type of behavior but people may regarded as deviant if they express a radical or unusual belief system. Members of cults may be consider deviant when their religious or political beliefs become known to people with more-conventional cultural beliefs. Deviant behavior also varies in its degree of seriousness, ranging from mild transgression of folkways, to more serious infringements of mores, to quite serious violations of the law. Some forms of deviant behavior violate the criminal law, which defines the behaviors that society labels as criminal. A crime is a behavior that violates criminal law and is punishable with fines, jail terms, and or other negative sanctions. Juvenile Delinquency refers to a violation of law or the commission of a status offense by young people.
Social control refers to the systematic practices that social groups develop in order to encourage conformity to norms, rules, and laws and to discourage deviance.


Blake Steiert
Dr. Michael Thompson
Intro to Sociology
October 10th, 2011

Deviance and Crime
I have read the chapter Deviance and Crime in my textbook sociology in our times and I am going to give a brief on what I have learned and what all has stuck with me. “Deviance is any behavior, belief, or condition that violates significant social norms in the society or group in which it occurs.” Deviance can come in all sorts of different forms of behavior. A crime is a behavior that violates criminal law and is punishable with fines, jail terms, and/or other negative sanctions. Juvenile delinquency refers to a violation of law or the commission of a status offense by young people. As we know, societies not only have norms and laws that govern acceptable behavior; they also have various mechanisms to control people’s behavior. This process is known as Social Control. Social Control refers to the systematic practices that social groups develop in order to encourage conformity to norms, rules, and laws and to discourage deviance. Individuals tend to internalize societal norm sand values that prescribe how people should behave and then follow those norms and values in their everyday lives.


Criminology is the systematic study of crime and the criminal justice system, including the police, courts, and prisons. “Sociologists do not judge certain kinds of behavior or people as being good or bad; instead they attempt to determine what types of behavior are defined as deviant.” According to contemporary functionalist theorists, they suggest that deviance is universal because it serves three important functions: Deviance clarifies rules, Deviance unites a group, and Deviance promotes social change.
Sociologist Robert Merton developed strain theory which states people feel strain when they are exposed to cultural goals that they are unable to obtain because they do not have access to culturally approved means of achieving those goals. The goals may be material possessions and money; the approved means may include an education and jobs and when denied legitimate access to these goals, some people seek access through deviant means. Sociologist Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin suggested that for deviance to occur, people must have access to illegitimate opportunity structures-circumstances that provide an opportunity for people to acquire through illegitimate activities what they cannot achieve through legitimate channels.
According to the sociologist Edwin Sutherland, people learn the necessary techniques and the motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes of deviant behavior from people with whom they associate. Differential association theory states that people have a greater tendency to deviate from societal norms when they frequently associate with individuals who are more favorable toward deviance than conformity. Primary deviance refers to the initial act of rule breaking. Secondary deviance occurs when a person who has been labeled a deviant accepts that new identity and continues the deviant behavior. Tertiary deviance occurs when a person who has been labeled a deviant seeks to normalize the behavior by relabeling it as non-deviant. This is all I have learned by studying the chapter Deviance and Crime in Introduction to Sociology.
Sociology In Our Times by Diana Kendall

Social Structure and Interaction in Everyday Life
By Chase Berg

Society is based on three major divisions: social institutions, statuses and roles, and social groups. Social life is based on these divisions. Everyone has a certain effect on society because of their involvement in these divisions.

The first division, social institutions, is composed of traditional and emergent institutions. Traditional institutions are comprised of institutions that are very obvious in society. Family, religion, education, government, and economy are all traditional institutions. From the time of birth, everyone is influenced and affected by traditional institutions whether they like it or not. Different from traditional institutions, is that of emergent institutions. It is comprised of sports, mass media, science and medicine, and the military. Emergent institutions do not affect everyone to the extent of traditional institutions. For example, these institutions affect people because they choose to be involved, unlike that of traditional institutions where they have little choice.

The second division, statuses and roles, can be divided into ascribed and achieved statuses. Ascribed status is the status one is born with. Examples of these are: race and ethnicity, age, gender, and class. Racial status has been a major area of conflict throughout history. Race was the main reason for WWII, because Hitler hated the Jews and other minority groups. Their race was their ascribed status and they could not change it.


An achieved status is something one earns. People may be accepted or scoffed at by how much they have achieved in life. Homeless people are generally considered to be invisible in society, while CEOs and presidents of multi-million dollar corporations hold major status in society. In society, great importance is placed on one’s education. Applicants with a college degree will be more likely to get a better job than that of an applicant with only a high school diploma. Achieved and ascribed statuses have a major impact on society and individual lives in general.

The third division is social groups, and it is divided into primary and secondary groups. Primary groups are the groups that one spends the most time with. Primary groups are family members, close friends, and peers. Members of these groups have face to face interactions regularly and are actively involved in each other’s lives. These groups generally have the most concern for an individual’s life, character, and well-being. Secondary groups are schools, churches, and corporations. Individuals generally do not know everyone in these groups and are not involved with people individually. They do, however, unite together to achieve a common goal as a whole.

The social structure has changed significantly over the years. Growing technology is making new advances in social life and forming new groups and corporations daily. But with all technology and growing social connectivity, is it possible to start fixing the problems that plague this earth?

Sociology In Our Times by Diana Kendall


Groups and Organizations
By Chase Berg

Social groups exist everywhere. They are in every culture and affect all of society. I am going to explain the different types of groups, dynamics and characteristics of groups, and global groups.

There are several different types of groups: primary and secondary, ingroups and outgroups, and reference groups. Primary and secondary groups easily define themselves. Primary groups are not specialized and are usually small groups that interact emotionally face to face over a long period of time. Secondary groups have more members and are more specialized to a common goal. These groups do not engage regularly in emotional interaction and do not usually know everyone in the group on a personal basis. The terms ingroups and outgroups were coined by William Summer. An ingroup is a group that a person belongs to and feels pride to be apart of. An outgroup is a group that one does not belong to. Usually the individual and, or his group feels competitiveness or hostility toward the outgroup. A reference group is a group within an ingroup. This kind of group has the most effect on the individual’s character, behavior, and attitude toward society in general.

The dynamics and characteristics of a group are defined by size, leadership, conformity, and group thought. The size of a group can greatly impact the relationship of the individuals. Smaller groups tend to be more unified and acquainted with each other than larger groups. Leadership is another major factor of groups. The leadership style in a group affects the whole group. Three major styles of leadership are: authoritarian, where leaders make all the decisions; democratic, where leaders place responsibility on the members to help govern the group; and Laissez-faire, where leaders generally make no decisions but encourage the members to make them. Group conformity is an important dynamic that affects the power and influence of a group. If the group is able and willing to conform to social norms, then their influence will be greatly increased in society. Finally, group thought is when a group arrives at a decision contrary to that of the individual in the group. In most cases, the individual does not speak for fear of ridicule. The individual may also think that the group knows best.

In the global perspective, groups have increased rapidly over the last century. Global organization changed the need from only local centralized groups, to groups connected worldwide. Bureaucracies are the general model of global groups. Ideal characteristics of a bureaucracy are division of labor, hierarchy of authority, rules and regulations, qualification based employment, and impersonality. Global groups have connected the people of the world for easier access to services and more competition in the economy.

In the end, everyone can have a desired effect on society through social groups. Race, gender, class, or age does not matter. Groups make it possible to achieve almost anything and install a competitive atmosphere for advantage. Groups exist everywhere and in all walks of life.

Sociology In Our Times by Diana Kendall

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License