It is believed that social success is a value shared by most Americans in the United States. However, not all have the same means or standards to reach this value as some may tend to use illegal means like theft for example. So there is a gap between values and norms, hence there is always a need for social control.
The standard that is held up in the society ensures social cohesion. It is an expression of power. Power is the ability of an individual or group to impose its will on others e.g., political power imposes legal standards. There are different power centers, schools, business associations, family, and to exert power and impose standards, an institution or individual should implement different means like legitimacy, authority, influence, charisma and, force
Social control is expressed by two types of regulations the external regulations which is the mandatory rules binding an individual outside their control. And secondly internal regulations in which the men manage to impose themselves on maintaining a minimum of compliance in their conduct. It is the internalization of norms by members of a society. A person may comply with these standards with a sense of obedience to himself.
In addition to all this, social control comes with a lot of expectations that are required to be exercised within a social group. The sanctions are not rigid: the members of this group can more or less follow the rules but if they want to avoid it, they can always leave the group.
The socialization of individuals is not always perfect. They may impose penalties or award prizes. All sanctions have the same goal: ensuring social cohesion. The social control thus can be seen in two different lights: one positive and one negative.
The short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr is actually an illustration of Theory of Justice propounded by John Rawls who believed the Marxist aims at bringing about a classless society where the world is observed as a concrete, scientific, logical explanation which the Marxist seek to change ,unlike other philosophies that merely seek to understand it. But Rawls’ idea of equality is taken to an absurd extreme in which the right of people to live as equals turns out be a pathetic struggle in a socially controlled society where this attempt to make everyone feel equal is shown to confine people into senseless acts rather than liberating them into free expression. As we see that George who is the intelligent person in the house is literally handicapped so as to ensure the so called defense of other’s self esteem. So this set up has severely disabled the gifted people of the society as the rule is the more gifted you are more handicapped you will be made as the most beautiful and graceful ballerina has the heaviest bags.
In contrast to this story the article, Who Wins by Mike Reiss, highlights the point of trophy explosion which is yet another extreme case of ensuring rewards to all irrespective of the fact that they deserve it or not. As Roy Baumeister, a professor of psychology at Florida State University states that this phenomenon of Trophy Explosion was introduced in the 1970s to boost self esteem of the children which ensures a healthier development of self esteem. But he argues that this practice necessarily does not give rise to successful children as success can only be taught through self control and discipline. Many people like Southborough Pop Warner program, president Mike Vulcano thinks that distribution of trophies to all the participants whether they have won or not simply does not make sense as it seems we are trying not to hurt them while their workmanship is affected. Alfie Kohn, author of "No Contest: The Case against Competition," thinks trophies give out the idea of competitive society which is wrong.
Sometimes this competitiveness leads to the idea of conformity to fit in the society. Conformity is to behave according to the ideals defined by the cultural system. It meets the standards of the group or society and uses the usual means to achieve his ends. It differs from obedience. Compliance with standards can become the ritual when the individual attaches importance to the rules. The ritualistic uses the usual means to achieve goals that are not always his own but adopted out of habit, without convictions.
Both the stories show an extreme view on the social expectations and the effect it has on a person’s self esteem. It should be kept in mind that a healthy competition through sports can help a person develop to be a an healthy member of the society who is not afraid to use his full potential.
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