Text 1: What is social control?

Preparation material

For dealing with the topic of social control in English-speaking countries, your preparation material includes seven texts and asks you to reflect and discuss on issues relevant to the topic. In what follows, we will first present each of the materials and then provide you with some ideas for a discussion on the topic.






Text 1: What is social control?

Text 1 is an informative material on social control compiled from two different websites, Wikipedia and About.com.

According to these sources, social control refers to the way our is regulated by societies. By behavior we understand also norms, beliefs and attitudes regarding all types of topics.

Social control can be attained either via informal means which we broadly define as socialization or by formal means which refer to official laws and regulations designed to sanction what is deemed as inappropriate behaviour.

Text 2: Workers at home for elderly cite abuse and neglect of patients

Text 2 is a news article written by Margot O’Neil and published in the Australian publication ABC Net, on August 13, 2013.

The article presents a growing issue in developed countries like Australia and the UK; the neglect and abuse of elderly patients in care facilities, caused by fact that such facilities are understaffed.

The article focuses on the declarations of Lynette Dickens, who is a specialist in palliative healthcare, and Sophie Curtis, an experienced nurse. According to the two of them, neglect of elderly patients happens because there is a shortage of both qualified and unqualified personnel in such facilities. Furthermore, those running such facilities try to cover up the shortages of the system and tend to dismiss any employee who complains. 

The article also gives the example of a recent scandal in the UK which uncovered similar to those in the Australian system of care for the elderly.

Text 3: New truck driving regulations to take effect

Text 3 is news article published on the website of the American media outlet Fox8 Morning News, on June 24, 2013, and written by Carter Coyle.

The article covers the new regulations instituted by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, designed to curb the number of accidents caused by truck drivers’ fatigue. According to the new rules, truck drivers will only be allowed to drive 70 hours per week, down from 82, and they are supposed to take at least a 34 hours break in between 70 working hours’ cycles. Furthermore, they are supposed to take 30 minutes breaks every 8 hours.

The article also quotes a truck driving company owner from Greensboro, Robert Cayton. The business owner welcomes the new regulations, but he draws attention to the fact that they will lead to lower salaries for the truck drivers and more employees in the transportation companies.

Text 4: Gay Marriage and Government

Text 4 is comprised of a short informative paragraph and a caricature published on About.com during the debate about gay marriages in the US.

According to the introductory information, the US Supreme Court has ruled in 2015 that states cannot ban same-sex marriages.

The caricature is made of two images. In the first one, a man dressed in white affirms proudly that “Government shouldn’t tell us what to believe!”, while the second image continues the man’s speech while pointing towards a gay-couple: “It should tell them!!!”

Text 5: Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’

Text 5 is an adapted article from the British publication The Guardian, written by Ed Pilkington and published on December 22, 2013.

The article covers the case of Justine Sacco, a PR at IAC, who has been fired after tweeting a discriminatory message on her flight to Cape Town, South Africa, in which clearly implied that only Africans get AIDS.

The woman had since the apologised for the tweet and acknowledged it was both racist and insensitive. Sacco had posted the tweet during her flight to visit her father in South Africa and by the time her plane landed, her tweet had already gone viral around the world.

Immediately after, the woman was fired by her company, because her statements were deemed hateful. However, the company also mentioned that Sacco had been an exemplary employee until that point.

Text 6: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Text 6 is a short biographical text about Irish author, Oscar Wilde, retrieved from Wikipedia.

According to the biography, Oscar Wilde had been arrested at the height of his fame, because he was discovered to have a homosexual affair with another man, Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde was sentenced to two years of forced labour after which he left the UK and lived in France until his death. He was buried in France, but his corpse had been moved from one cemetery to another. His grave has become a sightseeing objective, with many fans of the author coming to leave lipstick marks on the funerary stone. This eventually pushed authorities to add a glass to the tomb.

Text 7: Naming and shaming as social control

Text 7 offers a list of articles extracts from British newspapers which show how social control is exercised by the media. The extracts include the names, ages and locations of several offenders, people who have been fined for speeding, for minor thefts, assault or drunk driving.

Discussion of the topic

The texts in you preparation material offer you various perspectives on social control in English-speaking countries. They deal with social control in the workplace, such as in palliative-care or PR industry (texts 2 and 5), with what social control is (text 1), or with official and informal forms of social control.

In your discussion of this topic, you are asked to think about when and where social control might be necessary, and when it might be unreasonable or even cruel.

Social control is usually necessary to regulate behaviours so that society becomes functional and can further develop.

At a professional level, some forms of social control are often considered necessary because they help maintain and create a constructive environment which aims at both the development of the employees and the company. 

Additionally, depending on the type of profession and trade, social control might be necessary because the given job/industry requires a lot of responsibility and can affect a lot of people (such as in the medical field, in the security field or even the automotive industry).

But social control is also deemed necessary in general situations, in order to avoid conflicts and hurting others. For instance, when in formal occasions, one is expected to behave respectfully or even dress appropriately, not to offend others.

Nevertheless, social control has also certain disadvantages and it might become unreasonable or even cruel. This is because societies change and certain norms, rules, standards and regulations become obsolete. Take, for instance, the social control imposed by traditional societies on women or homosexual relationships.

By pressuring women into marrying a certain type of person, by not allowing them to pursue higher education or even to work (as the context was before the Women Rights Movement), their liberties were unreasonable limited, making them dependant on men.

Other examples of cruel and unreasonable social control have been enforced during slavery in the US and even after its abolition during the segregation period, when whites and blacks were supposed to live in separate communities.

However, you can also consider simpler examples. For instance, a certain degree of social control over the behaviours and attitudes of minors by their parents is usually considered acceptable and desirable. However, when the social control of parents expands well into the adult years of their offspring, than we tend to consider it unreasonable.

These were only a few suggestions which can get you started on a discussion of the topic of social control in the English-speaking countries. We strongly encourage you to think of more examples of your own and reflect on the topic deeper.

Task 1 Short answer Answer either 1A or 1B 1A The preparation material gives examples of how violations of norms and rules can make newspaper headlines. Create a short text showing what kinds of breaches of norms and rules you may find in the profession or trade you are aiming for. Do you think any of these breaches could become newspaper headlines? 1B The two news articles below are about the same type of crime: joyriding*. Create a short text in which you briefly comment on the differences in language, content and the journalists’ attitudes. Task 2 Long answer The following tasks are based on your preparation topic “Social control in English-speaking countries”. Answer either 2A, 2B, 2C, or 2D 2A Literary characters often choose to violate social norms or break laws, often for very good reasons. Create a text in which you compare two such characters and discuss the choices they make. The characters must be from English-language novels, films, plays or short stories you have studied. Give your text a suitable title. 2B Create an informative text in which you present some of the standards of behaviour in your future trade or profession and discuss why they are important and how they are enforced. Your text should include:

· a short presentation of the profession you are aiming for

· a description of its most important norms and professional standards

· a discussion of why these norms and professional standards are important

· a discussion of what the workplace can do if they find out that important norms and professional standards are not being followed

Give your text a suitable title. 2C Text 5 in the preparation material tells the story of Justine Sacco, who was fired because of a racist tweet. Create a text in which you present the main points in the news article in text 5 and discuss the consequences actions in somebody’s private life can have for their professional life. Refer to at least one other relevant example from English-speaking countries in your text. Give your text a suitable title. 2D Sometimes people find a particular type of social control unreasonable or unjust and try to find ways of opposing or changing it. Create a text in which you present and discuss one or more cases from one or more English-speaking countries where social control has been opposed or is being opposed. Your text should include:

· a presentation of one or more cases where social control (norms, rules and values) has been or is being opposed

· a description of the type of opposition

· a discussion of whether the opposition led to change or if you think it will lead to change

· reflection on the human costs of opposing

Give your text a suitable title.