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Social Control and Religion

Essay by   •  January 31, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,261 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,285 Views

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Social Control and Religion

Social control refers to any perceptive that discusses the control of human behavior. (Frank P. Williams, III/ Marylin D. McShane p. 148)

I think that social control is a fascinating subject. Social control guarantees conformity to a norm. I believe that one of the biggest social controls in society is religion. Encouraging the following of a religion is one method of controlling millions of citizens to follow a societal model and I have always wondered why people obey rules. Some people obey rules because the alternative would be costly, such as, if they run red light they may hurt someone or get a ticket. Otherwise, they just want to look normal and they do not want to call attention to themselves. They just want to blend with the mainstream. I believe that the role of religion in our society is a significant model of social control. Religion is one of the best tools for self-control and self-regulation that was ever created for mankind. Religions are all created for the suppression of desires and to me that is a form of social control. I think that praying helps a person to use a form of self-control and self-regulation. Religion works as a social control because when something is called sacred one is willing to put more effort in keeping these rules and regulations under check. When you believe that a God is watching you, the tendency is to follow a more righteous path.

In this paper I will analyze the psychological and religious ramifications of self-control.

As the author Edward Alsworth Ross states in his work Social Control v. Religion, he defines religion "as the conviction of an ideal bond between the members of a society and the feelings that arise, in consequence, of that conviction." (p. 434) Ross explains that since the beginnings of religions takes us back very far in time, and in all societies, including the most primitive groups. He argues that all these groups used religion to restrain one's animalistic desires in life because these feelings are natural to humans since birth. He states that religions are used to restrain oneself due to a discreet respect of a consequence. Ross explains that religion is a form of brotherhood. The creation of a Jesus, that proclaims the union among all men, in turn calms down man's soul and his wishes for wrongdoing in a social life. The making of a Jesus figure seems an immaculate one, creating a man who has the best of social qualities such as love, goodness, mercy, truthfulness and faithfulness. As Ross states, these values "which characterized the soul in its perfect state" (p. 434) are a perfect recipe for a form of social control. And let's not forget Jesus's charms and his dogmas of friendship and love creating a Christian declaration of a great socialization form. Ross identifies that he doesn't think that religion is a sole instrument or convenient student of social control. Ross explains that "every investigator, whatever his faith, recognizes no supernatural intrusions in his own field, and, however perplexing the unexplained phenomena that still con- front him, he is confident that someday he will be able to explain them by natural causes." (p. 438) Ross means that as long as we do not have the answer of how the world was created, religion will perpetuate and continue to be used as a social control. Ross believes that besides being used for social control recognitions and services of social peace, religion tends to perpetuate the kindness of the human heart. He says that the reason why religion stills persists without getting into the way of truth is because control by religions passes over control by ideals.

Ross makes a valid point in the use of religion as social control. The reason religion works and keeps renewing and recreating itself is because it keeps humans on the right track. Also, religion calms the mortal soul because turmoil of the unknown creates agitation on one's life.

Earl D. Bland in "An Appraisal of Psychological & Religious Perspectives of Self-Control" states that religion has an inclination to so set the mode to what is wrong and what is right. He argues that religion is a way for people to recognize and accept ways to behave in a social environment. He also states that religion provides motivation for people to follow rules, because religions call people to look inside of themselves and ask what the reasons they are here in this world are. Religion helps humans to have a deeper meaning for their existence besides to follow their path to satisfy their egotistic longings. Religious practices help a person to manage their incongruous desires. Bland, also, states that religion helps social life because it brings community together by providing a various group activity towards a meaningful goal. Blant says that "self-control is for developing a person who is good - a person who reflects the disposition of a Godly, moral, or virtuous being." (p. 8) As we can see, Blant argues that self-control and religion is well-connected and you need one in order to have the other.

As I stated at the beginning of this paper, social control guarantees conformity to a norm. I believe that one of the biggest social controls in society is religion. Encouraging the following of a religion is one method of controlling millions of citizens to follow a societal model. Indeed, the role of religion is to control human kind. Religion being a form of social control gives some people a feeling of peace and calm in their hearts knowing that they are accountable to a higher being. That is the reason why religion works as a form of social control.

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