What Are Examples of Informal Social Control?

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Common examples of informal social control methods include criticism, disapproval, ridicule, sarcasm and shame. Exclusion and discrimination are considered severe types of informal social control.

Also referred to as implied social control or social sanctions, these tactics aim to instill and enforce social values. Part of the socialization process, the use of informal social control methods involves comparisons with cultural norms and expectations. When standards of conduct or behavior are not followed, this type of negative feedback is given.

Informal social control methods are ways of protesting the words or actions of individuals or groups. Used by parents and teachers to instill expectations, peer groups also use informal social control methods. Parents and teachers show disapproval if a child breaks the rules. Peer groups often criticize others who are perceived as not fitting in. Ridicule, shame and exclusion are often internalized by adolescents and teens and frequently affect their self-esteem. Adults are also affected by social controls, such as criticism from their boss or coworkers.

Informal social controls contribute to the social order of cultures. Exclusion and discrimination are control methods associated with extreme or highly objectionable words or actions. In contrast to informal social controls, formal social controls involve the criminal justice system and law enforcement authorities.