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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

STUDENT GUIDE

43

each organization within a larger organizational structure, in a “position” with more or less power, privilege, and prestige than the others, becoming part of a relationship with the others, and taking on a role, an identity, and even a perspective.

Chapter 9: Social Order, Social Control, and Social Deviance

Sociology is a perspective that underlines the great power of organization over the individual’s life. Much of what we do, think , and are can be tied to the social patterns that exist within the organization. However, we must look at this from the viewpoint of the organization. Without some control over the individual, social organization simply would not exist. Society, a business organization, a university, an athletic team, or simply a group of children wanting to play “kick the can” could not function if there were not controls operating on the individual.

Now we will consider the “problem” of social order. How is it that a number of individuals are able to come together into an organization, sacrifice to some extent their individual wants and needs to that organization, and agree to temporarily control themselves so that the organization is able to continue? Without control, social order is impossible; without social order, we would not be socialized nor could we act together in some cooperative endeavor. In fact, even freedom—whatever there is—can exist only within some underlying order within which it is encouraged to exist.

Social order—a concept used but rarely defined—is a quality of all working organizations. The opposite of social order is easy to grasp: disorder, chaos, the absence of rules, disorganization. If there is no order, actors will act without taking one another into account or they will act without any concern for the cooperative effort. Action will be impulsive—uncontrolled—or it will be self-controlled without regard for the organization. Cooperation is made impossible.

Social order is made possible by “social control” all the various ways a social organization attempts to control the individual actor.

Social control and social order are necessary for the continuation of social organization. They are often good things, but we should not simply assume that they are always good. A society that oppresses people should not be supported simply because control and order are necessary.

The central question for every organization is how much control and order? Too little can lead to chaos and a war of all against all. Too much means that little individuality and freedom will be tolerated, and peaceful change will be unlikely.

Social Order is Established Through Structure and Culture

For most animals, order is established through instinct and through instinctive-battles between individuals for control.

What makes order possible for humans?

The answer, of course, is the social patterns that arise in social interaction. Social patterns guide the actor; the actor acts in predictable and expected

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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