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Informal Agents of Social Control


Social constructionist argues that world surrounding a person is constructed by the people in that social setting and imposes those things on them. The social organization is constructed by the participants and not inborn by character. The good example of social construct is gender and marriage. Sex is based on genetic traits and refers to male or female. Sexual characteristics are a reference to the masculinity and feminists. The character persona related with manliness and feminist are things which changes from time to time. For example the roles men play in homes have changed from time to time. However the social setting enables changes from time to time depending on the norms they take into account. For the case of marriage, a number of societies have formulated various forms of marriage.

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Marriage is a union of two people and forms a home where children are brought up. According to Christianity marriage involves male and female partners only. When Canada approved the law that allows for same sex marriages, there was outrage from different type of people. Various people argue it was wrong for gays and lesbians to be equal in marriage with others. Christians argued that it was a distortion of God’s plan for families. They argued that marriage is a holy matrimony and only man and woman should be put into a union and not same sex marriages. They argue that the state was invading the church by allowing same sex marriages. They threatened any member of parliament who supports same sex marriages that they would not be elected back during the next federal elections.

The government officials warn the same sex couple to be careful whenever they were traveling outside there country. This is because the rights granted in Canada of same sex marriages may be illegal in the countries abroad. Some countries takes the issue of same sex marriages and one may end up being in trouble in such countries. Some of the penalties include public whipping, fine and even death. Hence people were warned to study careful the laws of the country they intend to visit (Krohn, Lizotte & Hall, 2009).

Marriage of same sex partners have led to discrimination in societies because of not being recognition. However legal and social acknowledgment of identical relationships will decrease the issues related to discrimination. Gays and lesbians people have always be branded as deviant people and not fit in society hence majority are rejected and treated as outcast in society. They experienced unfairness and intolerance, including ethical and religious reprimand. However some countries have legally recognized same sex marriages. It was debated in Denmark in 1989 and it was taken out of concern that gays and lesbians have no protection in law in situation where death or break up of the relationship.

Deviant behavior is regarded in society as those behaviors that do not conform to the social norms and values in the society. It includes those behaviors that attract negative responses and social controls. It’s also involves crimes committed in the society. The type of deviance however is defined by the interpretation of the observer. Some individuals see what they do as not is being deviant behavior while others view them otherwise. Deviant behavior can either be formal or informal. Formal in the sense that the society can define the behaviors and gives the social action incase one deviates against the expected norms. There will be laws, regulations and code of conduct. For example, breaking formal norms will attract penalties such as imprisonment or house arrests. It involves be fined or punishment in accordance with the laws set in place. Informal are those that are guided by customs and traditions.

Reactions to informal deviance are usually absorbed by the deviant individual. For example individuals who are homosexuals have difficulty in accepting themselves and often carry the guilt for which they are. Deviant can also be voluntary and involuntary. An involuntary violation of an informal norm is less offensive than voluntary violation of a formal norm. Examples of involuntary norm includes deviant behaviors performed person with mental disabilities and physical disability. There are cases where informal reactions are sanctioned against such individuals from time to time. Some people with disabilities when they are punished for doing certain wrong things they learn although they have disabilities. This usually makes them to realize that they are wrong and they would not repeat the mistakes again for fear of being punished.

Deviant behavior can also be regarded as criminal behavior because young people who are delinquent tend to be criminals when they are grown ups because they have taken the behaviors of criminality. Criminologists and sociologist have identified various definitions for a criminal. Criminal is a person who commits acts that goes against the societal norms and expectations. These acts include robberies, vandalism, theft, rape and other various vices. Crime originated from ancient times during the agrarian revolution. The gap between the land owners widen in such a way that the have-nots was struggling to earn a living. The economic times encourages people to commit crimes. The farmers were being oppressed. They were made to work for longer hours with little wages. Hence they came up with other methods of earning a living. Most of them started to ask themselves various questions. E.g. ‘why do others have more than they while others do not?’ hence they started stealing from the rich as a way of revenge and anger. Up to date criminals have emerged and becoming more intelligent because of technology and various challenges that people want to meet.

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Committing crime by various types of people is subject to many conditions. Some of the reasons include jealousy and poverty. There are also instances of anger and revenge. The urge to continue whit criminality is encouraged when the rewards are handsome and steals successfully without being got. Research reveals that an individual who steals for that first time and escapes without being got is likely to repeat the vice. But if an individual steals for the first time and he is got and punished he is likely not to repeat the vice again. Such a person would likely quit the act of criminality. Punishment of an individual when he commits crime discourages people from indulging in criminal tendencies.

Punishment involves a person being detained in prison, rejection and rebuking in the society, beating in some circumstances and administering workloads to the offenders. Some people also commit crime because of the opportunity available to commit the crime. The probability of a person committing crime in an area full of security agents is low, hence availability of security agents deter an individual from committing a crime. The risks involved in crime also determine whether the crime would be committed or not (Hagan, 2010).

There are several correlates of crime. Race, social class, age, and sex are some of the correlation to crime. The most common correlation to crime is social class. It has been evident the at people who come from the lower socioeconomic class tend to be involved more in criminal activities than those of upper socio economic class. The major cause of this is poverty. Those who are poor also have been labeled deviant because of there inability to provide for themselves. The need for money to satisfy their basic needs leads people to get involved in stealing. Robbery is the most committed crime from this class of people. They always lack money and food and so the engage in stealing in order to illegally acquire money. The population from this class is mostly illiterate and so they cannot get employment to better jobs in order to earn. Most of them therefore resolve to commit criminal activities to satisfy their needs. And for those who have jobs they get low income there no enough to maintain themselves. Another correlation of crime is sex and age. It has been seen that age is a contributor to committing criminal activities. Statistics show that violent crimes are mostly committed by young male persons.

These violent crimes are committed mostly along the streets in towns and cities. Young people are energetic and most cases idle causing them to engage in criminal activities they leant when they were young. Female criminals have been seen to be involved in fraudulent and forgery crimes as compared to robbery and burglary. Young people of thirty years and bellow involve mostly in violent crimes like robbery and even homicides. Older people on the other hand engage in larceny crimes to a greater percentage as compared to other forms of crime. There is also a correlation between crime and education. Crimes committed in most cases dependent on the level of education of the criminal. Less educated people commit violent crimes as burglary and robbery. While educated persons in the society are seen to perform tactical crimes. These crimes are like computer fraud, i.e. committing crime using the computer. This involves skimming small amounts of money from several bank accounts, also hacking organizational systems in order to acquire unauthorized data is another crime. This information can be used against the organization in malicious ways.

Greed is also another factor of crime. The desire to acquire something makes someone to be tempted to commit crime. Greed for money or fame is the most similar cause of crime. When a person is very much in need of something, he/she can use all means to acquire it. This makes people commit crime even unknowingly. Another causation of crime yet is parental relations. Someone can be a criminal because of the influence from their parents’ criminal records. In some families there can be ancestral history of violence or other criminal activities. When children are brought up in an environment without norms, they easily adopt the behaviors of the society (Downes & Rock, 2007).

Parents should therefore be careful in bringing up their children. Children normally take up both good and bad attributes from their parents. They always try to emulate their parents thinking that the parents are ever right. Most children take their parents for their role models. Some parents also neglect there parental role. Others do not have time to spend with there children hence leaving the children to stay with others who may be having bad habits. Through social learning process the children would be able to emulate the habits of others.

Group of individuals who have deviant behaviors share their own norms and values that form a subculture. They usually have believes on how to execute criminality and usually end up forming a huge terror gangs. Terror gangs have been known to be very dangerous groups who are involved in crimes such as mugging and other vices. They regard people who are not in their groups as outsiders and normally they do not entertain them. Being in that group is at times dangerous because if a person wants to quit it is very difficult because of the solemn vow. Hence anybody who quits is regarded as traitor and may end up being killed.

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Deviant groups are often labeled by the media in a negative way. This is because of the way they normally act in a criminal manner. Labeling the individuals would make them rather not to stop the habits because of often being mention as crimes. It has also stick in the minds of the people as people who will never change. Deviancy acceleration occurs when the media only focuses on the harmful aspects of the criminal gangs. For example media focus of people who have dreadlocks as people who belong to a criminal gang who are involved in extortion in slums. This portrayal have created panic in society where anybody seen having dreadlocks is seen as deviant which has lead to not dealing with the real issues in society. When labeling occurs society various forms of behaviors is expected in society form that group of people. This would lead to stereotyping i.e. pictures we create in our mind about others.

The impact of labels can also emit positive and mostly negative attitudes. The most dangerous negative impact is the self-fulfilling prophesy where individuals would want to fulfill what he has been labeled against. Majority of people who have been labeled who likely fulfill that prophesy. It also depends on the values that society holds and impact on the members. Some societies have values that minimize the probability of children becoming delinquent. Such societies teach their children on good values and children belong to society rather than an individual. Hence when a child is seen to be performing a deviant behavior he is punished by the society.

Our behaviors however are heavily influenced by agents of social control. Agents of social control help to bring sanity to the society by making sure that peace and stability is maintain to the later. Some of the agents of social control include police and judiciary. These are formal agents of social control (Crewe & Ronnie, 2009).

They are instituted by the government to make sure that peace and order is maintain regardless of what type of society a person comes from. Police are people who are trained to deal with any type of crime either by use of force or otherwise. They usually help in stopping riots and usually deals with different cases. The work of the police is to make arrest. The judiciary is responsible for determining whether the individual is guilty or not. If a person is found guilty the judges are responsible making the judgment. If a person is imprisoned, the prison authorities are responsible for correction of the offender.


In conclusion, other informal agents of social control are peer groups which help in that members of the same age group may decide to help one another to overcome deviant behaviors. This may help greatly because of fear of being struck out of peer group list. Religious institutions are also another agent of social control. This includes the churches where people attend regularly for spiritual nourishment. When people go to churches they are thought the importance of holding on to good morals and virtues. Hence people learn to stay together in harmony in a crime free society.

However labeling of individuals in society is wrong and should be avoided at all cost. Research show most of people who have been labeled in one way or the other usually end up turning into criminality. The cause of problems in our society results from people who have in the past regarded as criminals. For example a wealthy individual who is surrounded by low class people likely refer to poor as thieves when actually they are not. On the issue of same sex marriages in Canada, the government should sensitize people on improve acceptance and greater visibility of same sex family units. This would help greatly in making people understand better the complex relationship of same sex. It will also improve the gay and lesbian identity and define various gender roles the play.


Crewe, D. & Ronnie, L. (2009). Existentialist Criminology. New York: Taylor & Francis

Downes, D.M. & Rock, P.E. (2007). Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. 5th ed. London: Oxford University Press

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Hagan, F. Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior. 7th ed. New York: SAGE, 2010

Krohn, M.D. Lizotte, A.J. & Hall, G.P. (2009). Handbook on Crime and Deviance. New York: Springer

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