The main forms of social control are as follows



There are several devices of social control. Social order is not possible without the sanction of law. The physical scientist is interested in the natural laws and a sociologist is also a social scientist and he studies those laws which are manifested by the behaviour of human beings.

The main forms of social control are as follows:

1. Religion □ Legislation

2. Morals □ Fashion

3. Customs


From the beginning of our social organization relgion has played a leading role in social control. Religion and moral codes are very closely interred linked. A distinction is possible only on the basis of the force sanction behind them. Even today man is more sensitive on matters of religion.

No moral can work unless it has the religious sanction. Throughout the course of our chequered history we see that religion was the guiding force behind unity. It was religion which made individuals forget their personal interest for the sake of common good.

Everyone has to follow the course laid by his religion and any violation is punished. Even God cannot exist without protecting the individuals religion instinct. In short religion is the chief factor in social control.

Moral codes

What is "Sin in Religion" is "wrong" in moral code. It has the sanction of society. It lays down form of conduct to be followed among the various units of the society. It is the common mode of expression which has the commons sanction behind it.

According to Maclver " A code is moral when it promulgates standards of conduct that directly derive their sufficient justification from the human interpration of good and evil, moral code has in its term the way for perpetuation of religious beliefs." As it has the sanction of society, no body tries to overrule it as it upsets the entire system of social conduct and so severally punishes it. In short religion and moral are interlinked and together culminates the society.


It has own distinction naturefor centuries together. Custom dominated as the main device of social control, in the primitive society when there was no legislation, it was the prevailing law in that particular society. In was the common procedure followed by the organization as a whole.

Even our present legislation has its orgin in custom there is always a fear for the instability, there is no certainity. But custom is more stable. One can rely on it. It is more certain opinion and judgment which would henceforth influence the other men. It is the common course adopted by the society after experience and mutual adjustment between them and so naturally has a great force behind it.

Legal code

Need for separate legislation was never felt in the primitive society on account of its small size. Custom regulated the conduct of life. But as the organization became complex necessity for legislation was widely felt. As custom lacked authoritative jurisdiction for cases of disputes and for novel situation. Secondly custom cannot be altered so conveniently according to changing circumstances.

Today law holds the key position in matters of social control. Safety of individual depends upon it. It ensures the common good. It lays down one common course which every individual is bound to follow and thus common harmony is maintained in the society.


It applies to matters of belief, recreations, dresses, opinion etc. In one way it supplements custom. Gabriel Trade defined fashion as the "imitation of contemporaries." Still further Herbert Spencer regarded fashion as a leveller of custom and especially of customary distinction between social clans.

Fashion controls more the superficial aspects which are not held by custom. Sometimes it makes no direct appeal to our reason but still it exercise influences over us. The main reason is that it satisfies the two strong demands of man i.e. the demand for novelty and the demand for conformity. It gives a specific form of main ideas.

In modern society it dominates most specifically and has great force. It increases our modern civilization. It has changed economic instruments. Modem spread of fashion has resulted in new inventions in respect of transport etc.

It prompts untiy in the democratic civilization. Through its passing conformities it helps to bridge the greater transition of the progress of social change. (MacIver)

Therefore these are some of the most important forms of social control which dominate the whole sphere of our social organization.