Friday, May 11, 2012

Sanctions as defined by Anthropologists

In every society one finds institutions that encourage and emphasize conformity to social and customary norms or rules.These institutions are referred to as sanctions


According to Radcliffe Brown a sanction is a reaction on the part of a society or of a considerable number of its members to a mode of behaviour which is thereby approved or disapproved.

Sanctions may be of different kinds and types:

Negative and Positive sanctions- By positive sanctions it is meant such incentives to conformity as awards,titles and recognition by others.However they seem to be usually of less significance than negative sanctions.The negative sanctions includes threats of imprisonment,corporal punishment or ostracism from the community for violation of social norms.

Formal and informal sanctions- sanctions may be formal or informal depending on whether or not a legal statute is involved.Informal sanctions may acquire the forms of surprised glances to murmurs of disapproval by others while formal sanctions involve being subject to litigation.

Organized and diffuse sanctions-Organized sanctions are those which reward or punish behaviour through precisely regulated social procedure.When these sanctions are imposed by an authorized political body they are referred to as legal sanctions.

Diffuse sanctions are those which are the expressions of approval or disapproval by members of the community.Often diffuse sanctions involve patterns of behaviour which are more or less institutionalized.These subject the offender to such inconveniences that the mockery of one's neighbors and the loss of honor all act as powerful inducements to proper behaviour. The sanction of ridicule is also called as satirical sanction.

Religious sanctions also serve to regulate behaviour and explain incomprehensible phenomena.Witchcraft,sorcery and other magical practices instil fear and thereby act as effective sanctions that lead to the conformity to proper behaviour.