Human interactions are subjected to the influence of many factors, one of which is social control. Society influences human action through different aspects, such as social conformity. The theory of social conformity could be confirmed through a simple experiment, as shown in the first video from an episode of Brain Games. Under the circumstances where an individual’s knowledge is limited to observation of people in the same room, the person succumbs to the group’s pressure and starts doing the same actions performed by the group. In the video, a young woman gave in to the pressure of the group and started standing up after hearing a signal, just as the rest of the group did (Conformity waiting room, 2018). Another experiment that displayed how social structure influences human interactions was discussed in the second video, which focused on the Sandford Prison Experiment (The Stanford Prison Experiment – BBC Documentary, 2017). Students were placed into an environment that simulated prison and separated into groups of prisoners and guards. Even though the student guards were instructed not to inflict violence, some of them committed to the role in the social structure and dominated the prisoners as others did not try to stop them. The Stanford Prison Experiment illustrates how people contribute to the assigned position in the social structure in conditions of limited pressure from actual superiors without thorough instructions. Moreover, the other student guards showed social conformity with the students who shared the same level in the social structure and did not try to stop the violent groups.
From a macro sociological perspective, the social structure contributes to controlling people’s actions and minds in inconspicuous ways. For example, the religious system as a social institution was implemented a long time ago as a measure of population control through imposed rules and moral values. Punishments of those who did not follow the moral laws or were told to be unfaithful were common and not condemned by other people. Even though now the religious system is not as powerful as before, the Christian religion’s moral values laid the foundation for the social norms in modern society and human interactions. Therefore, people’s actions and interactions are continuously influenced by society. People rarely act mindlessly or habitually, as the existing system of morality and virtues is also a product of society’s influence. In other countries, such as Middle-Eastern regions, religion forms the basis of everyday life and determines the population’s social structure. Another example of a social institution controlling the masses is the economic system. Through different pressure levers such as key rates, the economic system determines the real estate market’s conditions, the number of free funds which define an individual’s needs and interests, etc. In addition, the economy studies human behavior to determine the value of products depending on human needs and utilizes the collected information to apply in other fields. Business and marketing study the customers’ behavior and habits to develop strategies that control the people and the population by determining their diet, hobbies, and even social connections through social media and dating apps. Suppose during adolescence, an individual’s family faced financial challenges and followed a strict budgeting plan, even after growing up and becoming financially stable. In that case, the person will feel uncomfortable spending money on unnecessary reasons because of the habit developed under the influence of the economic system.
Freeform Nation. (2018). Brain Games – conformity waiting room [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Im, Patricia. (2017). Psychology: The Stanford Prison Experiment – BBC Documentary [Video]. YouTube. Web.