Difference between Formal and Informal Social Control

Difference between Formal and Informal Social Control

Chaos has become an obvious thing in society. Each carries their perception of the world and continues to work accordingly. This perception builds over the years and is dependent on family values, background, and experience. A civilized society that lives together recommends individuals to have mannerisms that have been set by the organization.

People often break protocol and act according to their ideologies. These ideologies and individual perceptions cause havoc in society. Rules are formed to outline people’s actions and ensure that everyone lives and behaves uniformly.

Any person who proceeds to break the set rules and guidelines has action taken against them. The set rules are to be followed by everyone irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, or religion.

The rules and guidelines are put down in every country’s institution to promote morality and good conduct. These standards are enforced through social control and help to attain social order. They work in a formal and informal environment and help to set order and bring stability into the system.

Formal Social Control Vs. Informal Social Control

While formal social control is used on larger grounds and includes written laws and regulations, informal social control is more suitable on a community level. It does not contain written laws and guidelines.

What is Formal Social Control?

These are set legal rules and guidelines formed to bring stability and justice. They are written and are meant to be followed by all citizens in a country regardless of their gender, race, beliefs, gender, color, or ethnicity.

The government enforces these set rules. Organizations that have a say in this authority include police officers, military, judiciary, employers of a firm or organization.

Formal Social Control is practiced by implementing the set rules and guidelines. The rules help to curb unethical behavior. Anyone breaking these rules has punishment imposed on them depending on severity. It may range from a small fine to a death fine to extremely severe cases.

In a formal workplace, the punishments imposed for failure to abide by the set rules and guidelines could be a contract termination.

What is Informal Social Control?

This is a casual way of imposing norms that are considered sane for human beings. The guidelines set in an informal social control help prevent a community from engaging in immoral behavior.

The set rules and guidelines are not written down but rather spoken by word of mouth. They are passed on from parents or by elders. They are taught from the ground up to help maintain stability and sanity in the community.

In a small community, the head of a clan is in charge of making decisions. They have the authority to give a final verdict if things go wrong. Punishment in an informal social control includes public embarrassment, but it could vary. Such punishment is to help strengthen the weak communities unable to abide by the set rules.

Difference between Formal and Informal Social Control

  1. In formal social control, the set rules and guidelines are written down while in informal social control, they are set by word of mouth.
  2. Heads of state or government are involved in setting these rules for the country’s people in a formal social control. In an informal social control, parents help to build these foundations of good morals to avoid moral decay in the community.
  3. In a formal social control, punishments like fines, imprisonment, and death penalties are taken against the lawbreakers. Public embarrassment, mockery, and social boycott are the kinds of punishments involved in informal social control.
  4. Formal social control is effected in large areas such as a state or nation while a small community is involved in informal social control.
  5. Informal social control, everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, should abide by the set rules and guidelines which does not apply to an informal social control.
  6. Formal social control is more systematic while the same does not apply to informal social control. There are no protocols involved.
  7. Formal Social Control is a written set of rules that have been well aligned and properly explained to the inhabitants. Informal Social Control rules that are set by word of mouth.
  8. People in charge of taking necessary action in formal social control include the head of state in a government or an employer in the formal sector. In an informal social sector, the parents take up the role of informing the good or bad, and a head of clan is also informally appointed to make the decisions.
  9. The control is more effective in formal social control as it works systematically. The effectiveness of informal social control is ineffective as there are no set rules and guidelines.
  10. A formal social control deals with a large group of people and applies to everyone regardless of their religion or social status. An informal social control involves a small group of people that are closely knit. It does not work well with a large group of people.
  11. In a formal social control, failing to abide by the set rules and guidelines results in paying fines, imprisonment, and a death penalty in severe cases. In an informal social sector, the punishments include embarrassment, peer pressure, and boycott methods.


In conclusion, while everyone is entitled to live their lives as they please, some guidelines are important to help promote peace and morality.

The only way to have people abide by is not to be extremely harsh on them. Instead, being supportive and thoughtful helps to receive more reception to the set rules and guidelines.

The formal social control rules and guidelines are written down to prevent anyone from disapproving of them. They are written under fair means and work well for a large group of people such as a nation or state.

While informal social control has its ups and downs, it helps promote morality in a community. They are set as a foundation from the parents or heads of a clan.

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