Every society has certain rules and regulations that help people live together harmoniously. Some of these rules are explicit and are openly known. Other rules are implicit and therefore subtle. Both implicit and explicit rules and regulations govern a society. However, when a person moves away from one particular society to another, he or she has difficulty in adjusting to the norms of that new society.
Social order is considered to be the method of explaining such rules and regulations so that we live in a society along with its members. Social order is very essential for organizing everyday social life.
When a particular group of people engage in a social activity, their social behavior may seem to threaten others. For example, when a group of people shout and scream in a street, the onlookers might find that their life, their neighborhood and society in general, are threatened. What seems as a social activity for one group may seem as a threat to the others. Such activities might be called 'disorderly behavior'. Social disorder is something that disrupts social order and is also considered to be threatening to the social life of people.
Every society has certain expectations on how people should behave to ensure social order and when such orderly behavior is violated, they are identified as disorderly or anti-social actions. These rules are set partly by the law, and partly based on the way a particular society is set up. This idea proves that each society has its own norms and rules that might be different from the others.
Stanley Cohen & Stuart Hall
Social scientists are always concerned about how such social order is organized and how people follow social order both implicitly and explicitly. They have found that while some groups or individuals are identified as anti- socials or people with disorderly conduct, most of the others have done something or the other in their social lives that are disorderly. Therefore, the perception of the society defines what is disorderly and what is not.
Social disorder might be witnessed when a person or group of people exhibit small social failures. For example, a person is said to be socially disorderly when he fails to respect the other. He is said to be anti-social if he behaves in an improper manner towards others or in certain situations.
Social disorder also includes those circumstances where larger forms of disruption occur. The best example could be when a group of individuals fail to follow order after disasters or invasions. Whether the disorder was minimal or massive, there is believed to be disruptions in everyday life and therefore the public, media, government and social sciences are involved and share interest in the issue.
We are prone to look back into the past of each society and consider the past to be more inclined to social order than the present. In the present society disorderly conduct is associated with having a family breakdown, lack of respect for people and alcohol and drug addiction. Such views and actions are over emphasized by media propaganda and the continuous demands of the politicians and therefore there are increasing legal enforcements and rules to prevent such disorder and misconduct.
According to sociologist Stanley Cohen, every society periodically identifies such groups of people who are considered to threaten the life of others and therefore the society has to be protected from such groups. He calls that, moral panic. Moral panic occurs 'when a pattern of behavior, group of people or a condition becomes de-ned as a threat to society, its values and its interests'.
The argument is that we are used to consider a disorderly behavior with reference to the past and compare it to the present state. People often believe that the social order in the past is more secure and controlled than the present. They think that a particular group of people are responsible for such anti-social behaviors. The influence of media has emphasized the need to control such behaviors and increase measures to deal with them.
Such propaganda has led people to consider such group with fear and outrage. We are forced to believe that such groups of people are dangerous to the society and must be handled with serious considerations. Such people who are considered as the threat to the society as folk devils.
Folk devils are 'people who are portrayed as deviant and are blamed for crimes and other social problems'. Cohen believes that the media portrayal of anti- social behavior has often led to form folk devils. He argues that when media depicts such groups as folk devils, the society at large panics and fears of its safety.
Media is responsible in constructing such terms as folk devils and it also calls certain groups of people who are believed to disrupt the welfare of the society as 'mods and rockers'. Media recommends that the society consider such folk devils as evils in the society and requires taking necessary step to eradicate such misconducts and maintain social order.
Moral panic raised by the media is often irrational and they do not base their idea of folk devils as a group of people who live in the society but act in a certain way because of certain reasons. They are rather considered to be evil minded and prepared to destruct the society.
Stuart Hall is another cultural studies expert and he agrees that the media plays a prominent role in propaganda. According to Hall and his team of authors, the media coverage of the series of crimes in the United Kingdom, in the 1970s, paved way to portray the society as dangerous and therefore increased street violence and disorderly behavior.
In the 1970s, the British government investigated and terminated crime and violence, particularly among the black community. This led the media to consider the government as the 'primary definer of disorder'. By taking such primary definitions from the government and other governing organizations like the police and court, the media further added its own conclusions.
The major difference between the views of Cohen and Hall is noteworthy. Cohen considers media primarily responsible for moral panic. Hall, though he agrees that the media plays a prominent role in propaganda, believes that such constructs by the media is caused by social conflict. Hall believes that the deep- rooted causes of social conflict became inconspicuous and that the society began its struggle against the so called mindless violence. He considers this as 'the law and order society'.
While Cohen emphasizes that the media is responsible in generating the anti-social perceptions in the society, Hall believes that the state is responsible for such conflict. He concludes that the state conceals problems of inequality and social conflict by providing 'dramatized' importance to anti-social behavior.
Cohen believes that mediation in anti-social behavior is important and that media plays a major part in providing people information that are not essential. Media creates moral panic and emphasizes the need to protect the society from disorderly behaviors. However, Hall believes that the state diverts the due attention from considering inequality as associated with social and legal problems in the society. When the state begins its mediation, the media follows through its propaganda.
Each society has its own derivation to disorderly behavior. What is considered as social order in one society may not be considered as anti-social in another society. Disorderly behavior thus varies from society to society and place to place. The reason for such difference is that society is not a single entity. It is divided into various groups and each group has its own interpretation of social order.
With such differentiation, it is hard to define a social disorderly behavior. Disorderly behavior can be thus socially defined and disputed. There are various…