Social Disorder, Deviance, and Social Control
Courtesy/ free pik

| Social Problem

A social problem may be defined as any undesirable condition or situation that is judged by the members of the influential persons within the community to be intolerable and requires group action toward constructive reforms.

Society remains in the state of social equilibrium as long as its various parts function properly, when the social equilibrium is disturbed its results in social disorganization.

The term ‘social disorganization’ according to Thomas and Zananiecki, who first developed this term in their famous book “The polish peasant in Europe and America” refers to the decrease in the influence of existing social rules of behavior upon individual members. As a result of this, there is a lack of cohesion in society. According to them, it is the process that automatically and inevitably creates a social problem.

Examples of Social Problems

Juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, crime, poverty, divorce, beggary, mental illness, alcoholism, corruption, prostitution, overpopulation, etc.


| Social Deviance

All society has certain rules, values, and norms that must be obeyed by all members of society or organization.

Society provides for specific standards of human behavior for the smooth running of societies. Deviance is behavior that is defined as a violation of the norms of a group or society.

Merton’s Strain Theory (Social Deviance)

Crime is the result of a ‘strain’ between the goals of an individual and a lack of opportunities to achieve those goals. This theory suggests that crime occurs because people don’t find enough opportunities to achieve their goals in society or an organization.


Merton's Strain Theory
Source/ wikimedia


Conformity: Accept goals achieved through accepted means. E.g. getting a job placement by taking part in fair job interviews. (Likely crime: No)

Innovation: Accept goals achieved through unapproved means. E.g. getting a job placement by manipulating systems (using bribes and political power), via unfair job interviews. (Likely crime: Yes)

Ritualism: Reject goals achieved through approved means. E.g. getting a job placement through fair interviews but leaving jobs frequently. (Likely crime: Yes)

Retreatism: Reject goals and means. Living an unemployed life without any necessity to work or earn. (Likely crime: No)

Rebellion: Challenge both socially approved goals and a means to achieve those goals. E.g. work to destroy the capitalist system and try to establish communism in the society. (Likely crime: Yes)


| Social Disorder

Disequilibrium between social units hinders the social solidarity and consensus breakdown of a social system which leads to criminal activities, scarcity, social conflict, and social misunderstanding.

  • Weakening of group solidarity.
  • Can’t function smoothly.

Examples of Social Disorder

Injustice, discrimination, corruption, immorality, lack of accountability, etc.

Types of Social Disorder

  • Personal or individual: If an individual commits a crime, drunkard, gambling, suicide, etc.
  • Family or Organizational: Misunderstanding between the different departments, units, and parts. E.g. husband and wife quarreling.
  • Community or Society: Different cultural groups, castes, classes, etc.


| Social Control

This concept of social control was introduced by E. A. Ross in the “Social Control” – 1901 AD. Social control refers to the control of the society over its individuals for social harmony, social solidarity, and social order which is the necessary condition for the smooth functioning of society. Solidarity and social harmony is not an automatic process to which we must strive.

Definition of Social Control

E. A. Ross – Social control refers to the system of devices whereby society brings its members into conformity with the accepted standards of behavior.

Ogburn and Nimkoff – Social control is the pattern of pressure the society exerts to maintain order and established rules.

The Need and Importance of Social Control

  • To control individual behavior.
  • To maintain social security.
  • For social co-operation.
  • To establish social unity.

E. A. Ross (Social Control)

  • Formal control: Means of formal control are law, military force, police force, and administrative device (status).
  • Informal control: Means of informal control are religion, family, sense of justice, morality, and mores.

Kimball Young (Social Control)

  • Positive control: The way one is expected to perform the work, he will be rewarded i.e. it is my reward.
  • Negative control: The way he is not performing the work which he was expected to work and is not rewarded for his work i.e. it is by punishment.

Karl Manheim (Social Control)

  • Direct social control: Family, neighbors, colleagues, friends, etc. controlled by the primary group.
  • Indirect social control: Controlled by a secondary group, e.g. religious customs.

Agencies of Social Control

  • Law
  • Education
  • Coercion
  • Propaganda
  • Folkways and mores
  • Custom
  • Religion
  • Public opinion (belief, ideology)

Previous articleSocial Change | Sociology for Business
Next articleSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind | Review and Synopsis