Policing, punishment and control

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Social Control

  • Society can only exist if there is a degree of order and predicatability - otherwise anarchy
  • Order is unlikely to arise spontaneously so we devlop methods through formal and informal control
  • Smaller uncomplex societies depend more on informal control, while larger more diverse society need formal methods

Approaches to understanding social control

  • Functionalists - the CJS operates to look after the interests of societies as a whole otherwise there would be anomie.
  • Marxists - the CJS benefits capitalism as the police etc are members of the ruling class and can thus eliminate oppoisition
  • Foucalt (1977) - all socities are a battleground between competeing interests. The Key to gaining power is to control what is considered to be knowledge as the CJS do - they impose the values of powerful

Changes in social control

  • Cohen = argues there are a number of key themes in the chnaging nature of social control across Western societies these are; penetration, size&density and identity&visibility.

Feeley & SImon: acturialism

Social control now controls potentially deviant people and are able to weigh up how likely someone is to be deviant - like insurance companies do.Agencies of social control (like the police) work out who is at greater risk to do deviant acts - thus the police patrol the working classes and ethnic minorities (labelling)They argue there is now new subtle forms of social control like disciplining: people are helped in a non-coercive way to do what the organisation wants

Davis: Control of space

There is an increasing distance between the areas of the rich (seperated, protected, gates sometimes) to the areas of the poor. It is the polices job to contain the poor and segreate them into their


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