At the threshold of the 20th century，the industrial countries led by the United States experienced years of fierce social conflict. In the process of industrialization and urbanization, a lot of social problems came forth one after another in those countries, which created an increasingly unstable society. Such problems always included political corruption, economic monopoly, polarization between the rich and the poor, environmental pollution, food safety and class conflict, which especially led to a prospect of revolution. Therefore, capitalism was at that time facing an unprecedented challenge. The thought of social control presented itself in this very context, and became an important product of social crises.
This report is going to trace back the historical context in which the thoughts of social control were generated, in order to review the exploration and thinking of related scholars, especially Edward Ross, who made great efforts to improve the living conditions of human beings. However, since this topic covered too many historical materials in this field, a practical way is to focus on the thought of Edward Ross, who is the founder of Social Control studies, and to pay less attention on the related studies before and after him. In fact, this report discusses such questions as follows: 1.What is Social Control? 2. Why were the thoughts of social control created in the United States of later 19th century? 3. How did the thought of social control put forward by Edward Ross influence the social transformation? 4. How did these thoughts changed with time after Ross? 5. What is the realistic significance of these thoughts in modern context? On the basis of these questions, this report briefly examines the formation and development of the thoughts of social control in modern world history, and reviews the exploration of western scholars’ effort to resolve social problems of their age. Meanwhile, the report pays more attention to compare the different schools of Social Control and employs inter-disciplinary analyses to understand and explain the relationship between Social Control and Social Order. It is surely useful for China to learn something from the western intellectuals’ reflection on how to build a steady social order, beneficial to accelerate the study about social transformation and social stability, and finally to supply an optional suggestion to Chinese real need for its reform, development and stability.
As this report makes clear, the thoughts of social control are essentially a branch of western reformism, and also an important factor to explain why Capitalism can last for such a long time. In 20th century, the industrial countries had a lot of ups and downs, but those societies survived. In some sense, the effective social control was one of the keys for those countries to maintain their economical development. The socialist countries can also learn something good from those industrial countries, and enrich the splendid human civilization on the basis of their exploration. This point is to some extent significant for those countries which are going through the industrialization and urbanization, especially for China.
Keywords: social conflict; social control; social stability; Edward Ross