Social control

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Social kontroll

Social control can be defined as everything that sets limits in social life.

Our environment controls our acts through norms and sanctions. Norms are rules and expectations others have to each other.

A distinction is made between primary and secondary control.

  • Primary control - Our family and friends control us.

  • Secondary Control - Norm breaker meets the controller. Example is the police.

Socioeconomic status

Angelika Schafft

Schafft writes that we have a socioeconomic status based on income and education level (Schafft, 2007, s181).

Our status is based on diffrent type of capital:

  • Economical - How much money you have

  • Cultural - Education from school

  • Symbolic - Recognition and prestige

The socioeconomic status divides people into different classes.

In the 1980s production was a symbol of capital, but today consumption is the main symbol.

Rich parents - Is it better than poor parents?

"UNGforsks's" survey among young people showed that there was no correlation between economic capital and crime. Schafft shows that it is not necessarily better to grow up with rich parents who do not care versus poor parents who care (Schafft, 2007, s185).

Similarity to the law

Those with low socioeconomic status are overrepresented in prisons (Schafft, 2007, s183). This is due to:

  • Offense type - Those with high socioeconomic status commit other offenses than people with low status

  • Control - The offenses are controlled in a different way

  • Statistics - Offenses are subject to special legislation and are not registered in the crime statistics

This is supported by Paul Larsson's figure that explains that there are more prisoners with low status, than high status:


Low social class
Health problems
Mental issues
School problems
High social class

Why are we law-abiding?

We are all law-abiding because we have something to lose. We are integrated into society. We have jobs and children. The costs of beeing a criminal is to big for the normal person.
The social control is great.

On the other hand, there are some who are frozen out of society. They have nothing to lose, so they become criminals.

How do we make crime?

Schafft writes that we have social selection mechanisms that are discriminatory (Schafft, 2007, s185).

An offense must
1) be an act,
2) there is a legal provision that defines the act as illegal and
3) There must be enforcement where it is established that the act is governed by law.

If we divide the offense we see that the act can be:

  • Deviation - normal

  • Offense - deviation

Legal provison:

  • Serious

The enforcement:

  • Discovered

  • Reported

  • Accused

  • Punished

  • Punished strict - mild


Schafft, A. (2007). Kriminalitet, sosial bakgrunn og kontroll. I L. Finstad & C. Høigård (Red.), Kriminologi (s. 116-129). Oslo: Pax.