The Organon of Social Control
Edward Alsworth Ross's legacy is his theory of social control. His series of articles published in the American Journal of Sociology (AJS) between 1896 and 1898, and his 1901 book on social control, established a paradigm for the founders of sociology. Supported by Albion Small's major review in the AJS Ross's book stood unchallenged for a decade. Ross's work objectified social control as a benign agent of progress. He described a process by which individuals surrendered their own interests to foment broader social uplift. In an era of greedy capitalists and often corrupt politicians, Ross believed individualism fostered destructive behaviors. In his 1901 book on social control, Ross identified a single manifestation of control. Socialization emerged in unseen psychological processes—the anticipation of rewards and fears of punishment—and then ultimately through visible behavior. The initial reception of social control legitimized sociology as a realm unique from other disciplines.