Difference Between Formal Social Control and Informal Social Control

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Formal Social Control and Informal Social Control

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The control of the government over every policy and regulatory manner. Both formal and informal ways are present to influence and work inside the policymaking and put restrictions on the unfair and unjust to get a refined policy that must be suitable for one and all to get a society that is free from any type of misdeed or non-satisfactory policies.

These are the major contributors to the system of control in the social surroundings as both the authorities and the common citizens are working as a whole toward the objective.

Formal Social Control vs. Informal Social Control 

Controlling the social behavior and the mishappenings that are being happened in a particular place needs a former basis and controlling authorities which can be able to control the mischiefs around with a whole lot of rules and regulations.

Formal social control is the one that sets regulatory sets of rules for the whole society. The other governmental authorities try to make the thing sure that rules be followed. In contrast, informal social control is based on the face of the peer groups and the pressure created by society and the persons who are facing any issue. This is because of the persons and the discrimination or the issues they may be suffering from and what they may have seen earlier.

Difference Between Formal Social Control And Informal Social Control In Tabular Form

Basis Formal social control Informal social control
Definition These are the control and authority set by the specified legal system. Working as one unit with non-discriminatory norms. These are the control and authority that are being set by the authorities but by the influence of the common citizens.
Norms The norms and the guidelines are pre-settled by the authorities in a written form as well as verified by the top authorities. The norms are only verbalized and are not present in any written form, as they are not present in any pre-settled document.
Governing authority The government or the authority that is in the power of a particular firm/ company/ district. The informal control is not maintained in any particular way, as it is the parental teachings or the basic principles of life we learn in our childhood.
Nature of dealings It acts with the whole society and does not make sections for its action, regardless of any factor all the inhabitants of a particular are surely included under this. it acts only within a particular group of people and is seen to be acting as a result of peer pressure, some particular societal issue, etc.
Punishment Any type of misdeed performed in the formal criteria is said to be punished strictly’ which can be accordingly fines, imprisonment for the regarded mischief, and some severe bad deeds can lead to the punishment of death or being hanged alive. As they are the misdeeds under informal control, the punishments are not as severe as death or lifelong prison, instead bead the methods that are used can be boycotting the particular person from the society, shaming him/ her, or some other methods may be used.
Places of implications These are implied over big areas, districts, companies, and recognized authorities. These are only implied over small areas where the reach of the law is a little less and can not be seen as a legal and lawful recognized control.

What Is Formal Social Control?

These are the controlling authority that has their set laws, rules, and regulations. These authorities have strict functioning all over and can be seen working as a disciplinary body. They were seen and also are seen as the ones having no flexible policy for any particular societal group; instead, it is common and judicial for all. Some examples of this type of control can be seen around easily. One of which is a manager of a textile firm having a particular set of rules and regulations already laid down for the employees.

The control in this base has been transformed from the old times, it was more of an authoritative control as the punishments were severe, like of hanged alive, lifetime imprisonment, and many others, but the scenario has shifted a little, now the societies have been well-informed about the pros and cons of every activity, are being warned. The size of the societies is getting to be limited.

The approach is positive, but still, it has some negative effects on society. As societies involve formal social control even in the smallest interpersonal issue between them and any other societal members. This interference of law in every little matter leads to the formation of new and more laws at each time, and the members of the same society do not have even a friendly connection because they are limiting themselves to the law and formalities.

Types Of Social Formal Control

The types/ examples are three which are as follows,


They are the legally identified authority who keep the daily activities and mischiefs under their control. They are said to admonish, to be a cautionary group of people, and the one who is consistent in reminding the citizens about the laws and the regulations they must keep in their mind while doing any unfair deed.

They have the basis of law enforcement and also have the task of crime detection and prevention. They are the people who regulate peace and safety and always keep in mind the public welfare at its most.

As for how the military and the armed forces are working for the safety of the nation with the outsiders, similarly, the police are performing their job by taking care of the public with arrogant critical behavior to maintain discipline and peace.

Judicial sanctions

The judiciary makes law and implies no injustice and is thereby called non-discriminatory, even if it comes to any person of any respective class, culture, tradition, or wealth.

The sanctions are the punishments given to individuals who have committed a crime. The punishments are also decided upon the deed’s level of immenseness. The guilty may be extracted only up to give a fine of a respective amount, may be imprisoned for a specified number of years, or be hanged for the punishment of death.

These punishments and their durations have evolved over a long time. Like, we see that the rape cases were not taken that much into account, but it is not so now. The guilty was relieved after a particular number of years or were left after giving some compensating amount to the judiciary as a fine, but the presernt scene is different now. There is a specific punishment for the guilty, which cannot just go even after giving endless compensations.

Regulatory Policies 

Not every crime is so severe it cannot be saved before the mishappening. Sometimes because the bad company and miscalculations of mind lead a person to do a crime unknowingly, this was the reason for coming up with a set of regulatory policies.

These policies are the laws and regulations that if one follows with whole integrity, then the crime level will be minimized, this acts both like respective boundaries for an individual and also like a pre-held warning to secure future events.

The laws are not limited in number. There are many laws that have different meanings, warnings, and the result of misdeeds as punishment. If followed correctly/ wisely and no incorrect violation is made, then the whole country will move towards a crime-free country.

What Is Informal Social Control?

This is not one of the recognized group laws or rules/ regulations that are placed by the government. Instead, it is a resultant pressure of the common citizens, and the common life situation one suffers in his/ her daily life.

These social controls are an integral part of every society, as every small misdeed can not be given the name of punishment by imprisonment. Some issues can be sorted inside a society by the persons living in that particular place.

The punishments provided are not too severe that affect one a lot but they are enough to make one understand the importance of societal discipline and decorum. The relationships in this kind of society are much better than those who opt for formal social control in every small to big kind of matter.

Types Of Informal Social Control

The types/ examples are three which are as follows;


The Cambridge dictionary says that compliance is “the fact of obeying a particular rule or law, or of acting accordingly an agreement.” It is the formation of such laws that are legally binding and have an impact on law enforcement over every societal person. This is often flexible and does not put rigidity over someone. It is the rules made by the groups that have the characteristics of mindfulness. These are generally not in great need of funding for the establishment, and if some costs are being seen during formation, then societal members divide it among themselves.

They are generally agreed-upon rules as no one would prefer to follow such rules that are not suiting themselves, and that is the reason why such rules are not made by a single person and requires the permission and settlement of every single individual who will be covered under the umbrella of this rain shower.


Identification stands for seeing in minutely whether the rules set by the society are being properly followed or are being violated by any of the members. If the rules are violated or any other misdeed is done in the society then the most important part is to recognize it and see whether the misdeed comes under the criteria of informal social control or whether it should be given ahead to the hands of formal social control.

Identification is an important part as if the mischief is not identified and the guilty is not punished, then it will not be accurate, and also, it will be discriminatory to the ones who were punished by the informal authority for the same deed that another person is now doing.


Internalization here finally means the ending part of the integral thread. The guilty are now being punished. Accordingly, it will be seen and recognized under the compliance how severe the task is done and what should be the accurate punishment for the guilty.

If the task done is not that inaccurate, then the punishment will be limited to warning them in a meeting and telling him/ her not to do it ever again. If it is a little more mischievous, then shaming them in front of everyone is a choice to rightly comply with, and if the task is said not to be repeated ever again as it can have an immense effect on everyone then punishment may reach up to boycotting the guilty from the whole society.


Each of the social control types is equally important and is an inseparable part of society, as they are the ones who are liable for making up the rules and regulations of a particular area, state, or country. Formal social control has more of a great impact on the ones who are committing severe crimes and are not said to be punished informally or just warned. That is why they have a set of laws decided at every pace for the various crimes one commits. On the other hand, informal social control is seen to be a societal binder that is keeping it all together by implication of their separate system, which can be seen to heal societal wounds. These are correctly identified and implied to various groups according to every person coming under it.

As we can see these are the punishers and warners of a country that keep the part in control and coordination with each other by punishing those who commit any error.



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"Difference Between Formal Social Control and Informal Social Control." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 22 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-formal-social-control-and-informal-1099>.

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