Social Control by Coercion

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TOPIC- Control by Coercion

Coercion, that is, the use of physical force is one of the forms of social control. Coercion refers to the use of physical force to stop or control a work or an action. Whenever people are refrained from doing a particular work or whenever some limits are put deliberately on the range of their choice through the use of force, or through the threat of its consequences, they may be said to be under coercion.

Coercion is an extreme form of violence. State is the only association which is empowered to use coercion in social control. No other association is vested with this power. It becomes necessary for the state to resort to coercion to suppress anti-social trends and activities.

Otherwise there would be no security for social life. It is necessary to keep within limits the self-interest, the greed, the lawlessness, and the intolerance ever ready to assert its will over others. It is necessary to protect the interests of the weaker groups, minorities, servants, slaves, poor and the like. Safeguarding the political and social order is the main service of force.

Force alone cannot protect the social order, but without force the order could never be secure. “Without force law is in danger of being dethroned, though force alone can never keep law in its throne”.

Though force is essential, it has its own limitations. The intervention of force substitutes a mechanical for a social relationship. The use of force indicates the denial of the possibility of cooperation. It treats the human being as though he were merely a physical object. Force is the end of mutuality.

Force by itself admits no expression of human impulses against whom it is wielded. Further, the exercise of power is a wasteful operation. It checks all the ordinary processes of life, all the give-and-take of common living. The more it is used the more it breeds resistance, thus necessitating still more enforcement.

Human experience has revealed that coercion or force is necessary as the guarantee of political laws. Its service is best rendered when it is used to the minimum. Where a common rule is considered necessary or beneficial for the common good, some degree of compulsion is involved.

Hence force becomes necessary to enforce the common rule. But only when the use of force is limited it becomes the servant of fundamental liberties of people. Only then the harmony of individuality and society could be most fully achieved.

‘Customs’ represent a kind of informal social control. “The socially accredited ways of acting are the customs of society”. Many of our daily activities are regulated by customs.

Our ways of dressing, speaking, eating, working, worshipping, training the young, celebrating festivals, etc., are all controlled by customs. They are self-accepted rules of social life. Individuals can hardly escape their hold.

All normal people prefer to live according to the customs for they save much of our energy and time. They save us from the objections and ridicule of the society. Customs give guidance for people in every activity. One need not have to resort to original thinking on every aspect. The role played by customs in life is comparable to the role of instincts in animals. Customs enlighten man in his social life.

Customs are conformed mostly unconsciously. Man learns them from his very childhood and goes on obeying them. Customs are very rarely opposed. Even the harmful customs are also obeyed by most of the people because they do not consider them harmful. While those who consider them harmful lack the courage to oppose them, only some exceptional individuals have the courage of going against them or carrying on protest against them.

Customs are basic to our collective life. They are found everywhere. They are more influential and dominant in the primitive society than in the modern society. In the tribal societies they act as the “King of Man “. In the modern complex society custom is slowly losing its hold over people, and giving place to law.

Control by Coercion

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