Social control theory in sociology is a concept that aims to explain how society maintains order and conformity through the use of various mechanisms. This theory proposes that individuals are naturally inclined to act in their own self-interest and engage in deviant behavior unless they are restrained by social controls. In this article, we will explore the key concepts and principles of social control theory.

The Key Principles of Social Control Theory

Social control theory is based on several key principles. First, it suggests that humans are inherently selfish and will pursue their own interests if left unchecked.

Second, it proposes that society has a set of norms and values that define acceptable behavior, which individuals learn through socialization processes. Third, it asserts that society has various mechanisms for enforcing these norms and punishing those who violate them.

The Role of Socialization

Socialization plays a crucial role in shaping an individual’s behavior and beliefs. According to social control theory, people learn social norms through interactions with others, particularly during childhood. These norms guide behavior by providing individuals with a set of expectations about how they should act in different situations.

Social Control Mechanisms

Social control mechanisms refer to the ways in which society regulates behavior to ensure conformity with societal norms. There are several types of social control mechanisms, including formal sanctions (such as laws or punishment), informal sanctions (such as ridicule or ostracism), and internal controls (such as conscience or guilt).

The Importance of Social Bonds

Social bonds refer to the connections between individuals and their communities. According to social control theory, strong social bonds can deter individuals from engaging in deviant behavior by increasing their sense of attachment and investment in society. These bonds can be formed through family relationships, friendships, employment, religious organizations, or other forms of community involvement.


In conclusion, social control theory is an important concept in sociology that explains how individuals are restrained from engaging in deviant behavior by social controls. This theory proposes that the key to maintaining order and conformity in society is through the use of socialization, social control mechanisms, and the formation of strong social bonds. By understanding these principles, we can gain a better understanding of how societies function and what can be done to prevent deviant behavior.