Friday, October 17, 2014

Social Control

An interesting theory of social control was developed by Travis Hirschi in 1969. Although referring to criminals and other social deviants, I found his ideas very applicable to the society within the COG.

He suggested that in order to discourage deviance - violation of accepted norms of the society, in my case, the cult - one needed to be bonded to the community in the following ways: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.

Attachment was easily provided through the hierarchy of Family leadership. Although friendships were often shattered, there was always a leader in my house, and always Berg as our ultimate "father" and his mistress, Zerby, as our ultimate "mother" figure. When one feels attached to a society through authority figures, such as pseudo-kinship or leadership structure, one naturally demonstrates respect and love for them by accepting their standards and values. When we disappoint those we feel attached to, we experience shame and guilt. Therefore, we are less inclined to deviate from what is deemed "normal behavior" in the group.

As far as commitment goes, one could not get much more committed than the burning of bridges required of a Family member. Hirschi advanced that there is a relation between the amount of commitment to a society and the disinclination towards social deviance. The greater the commitment, the more one has to lose by misbehavior.

The involvement required of Family members was complete. Every moment of every day was scheduled and regulated. All my time was filled with my so-called "work for the lord." Time for thought of other lifestyles was seriously limited, although the likelihood of thinking such damning thoughts grew slimmer with each passing day. Besides, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."

Belief, of course, being aided and abetted by the availability heuristic and the confirmation bias, among many others, was reinforced daily. The required 2 hours of "word time" (reading publications from the group, and/or the King James bible), plus memorization, kept me busy during any time that would have otherwise been free. "Living in the word," i.e. constantly having the "word of God and/or Berg" in one's mind, was held as virtuous and an ideal for which to strive.

As well, I was getting quite interested in the stories of the bible, and I ended up making that a main focus of study and the form of mandatory "word time" that I enjoyed teaching the most to the children I worked with. Since it was only that or the words of Berg, it was an easy choice.

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