Definition of Sanction
(noun) A way to enforce rules through rewards for positive behavior and punishments for negative behavior.
Examples of Sanction
Types of Sanction
- American English – /sAngkshUHn/
- British English – /sAngkshUHn/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈsæŋkʃən/
- British English – /ˈsaŋkʃən/
- Plural form: sanctions
- The terms “sanction” and “social sanction” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.
- “Since mores . . . are based on cultural values and considered to be crucial to the well-being of the group, violators are subject to more severe negative sanctions (such as ridicule, loss of employment, or imprisonment) than are those that fail to adhere to folkways. The strongest mores are referred to as taboos” (Kendall 2006:56).
- “Such an assumption seems to me to ignore the central fact about deviance: it is created by society. I do not mean this in the way it is ordinarily understood, in which the causes of deviance are located in the social situation of the deviant or in ‘social factors’ which prompt his action. I mean, rather, that social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders. From this point of view, deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label” (Becker 1963:8–9).
- “[T]he essential aspect of social structure lies in a system of patterned expectations defining the proper behavior of persons playing certain roles, enforced both by the incumbents’ own positive motives for conformity and by the sanctions of others. Such systems of patterned expectations, seen in the perspective of their place in a total social system and sufficiently thoroughly established in action to be taken for granted as legitimate, are conveniently called ‘institutions‘. The fundamental, structurally stable element of social systems then, which, according to the present argument, must play a crucial role in their theoretical analysis, is their structure of institutional patterns defining the roles of their constituent actors” (Parsons 1954:231).
- “We thus arrive at the point where we can formulate precisely the field of sociology. It includes only one specific group of phenomena. A social fact is recognized by the power of external coercion which it exercises, or is capable of exercising, over individuals; and the presence of this power is in turn recognizable by the existence of some specific sanction, or by the resistance that it offers to any individual action that would violate it” (Durkheim  2004:49).
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- Word origin of “sanction” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Burk, James, ed. 1991. Morris Janowitz: On Social Organization and Social Control. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- LaPiere, Richard T. 1954. A Theory of Social Control. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Melossi, Dario. 1998. The Sociology of Punishment: Socio-structural Perspectives. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate.
- Park, Robert Ezra, and Ralph H. Turner. 1967. On Social Control and Collective Behavior: Selected Papers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Becker, Howard Saul. 1963. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free Press.
Durkheim, Émile.  2004. “The Rules of Sociological Method.” Pp. 43–63 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.
Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Parsons, Talcott. 1954. “The Present Position and Prospects of Systematic Theory in Sociology” in Essays in Sociological Theory. Rev. ed. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Note: Read for free at the Open Library.
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Cite the Definition of Sanction
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “sanction.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 1, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/sanction/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
sanction. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/sanction/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “sanction.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 1, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/sanction/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“sanction.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/sanction/>.