chapter  5
41 Pages

Law and Social Control

BySteven Vago, Adie Nelson, Veronica Nelson, Steven E. Barkan

This chapter focuses on social control through laws that are activated when other control mechanisms are ineffective or unavailable. It examines the processes of informal and formal social control, the use of criminal sanctions, the effectiveness of the death penalty, and civil commitment to regulate behaviour. The chapter concerns crimes without victims, white-collar crime, and the control of dissent. There are two basic processes of social control: the internalization of group norms and control through external pressures. Mechanisms of social control through external pressures include both negative and positive sanctions. Informal mechanisms of social control tend to be more effective in groups and societies where relations are face-to-face and intimate and where the division of labour is relatively simple. The chapter concludes with a consideration of administrative law as a means of control in the context of licensing, inspection, and the threat of publicity.