Before we can begin to discuss human manipulation in any detail, we must first put the subject into its proper context as a method of social control. But what do we mean by social control?

Social control refers to societal and political mechanisms that regulate individual and group behaviour in a conscious or unconscious attempt to gain compliance with the rules of a given society, state, or social group.

Types of Social control: There are two basic types of social control, enforced in different ways: informal social control and formal social control.

Informal social control works by means of individual socialisation where individuals develop behaviour which conforms to the acceptable rules of the group. Enforcement is by means of interpersonal sanction and reward, with the objective of maintaining "interpersonal stability".

Formal social control involves the use of external sanctions and rewards enforced by some kind of government or authority with the primary objective to prevent the onset of "chaos" or "social fragmentation".

All human societies contain some degree of organisation based on a set of social norms. These external constraints represent forms of social control; they may be written or unwritten laws, taboos against certain physical and sexual conduct, deference to group leaders and revered icons, etc.

A government uses social control institutionally to govern its people whilst social controls from peers within a group are interpersonal. But the two are also interchangeable, for instance where a citizen obliges another citizen to abide by the law, or where a government appeals to the citizenry to "do the right thing".

Like one of London's top SEO agencies has said, governments are not the only social controllers, and neither are our social peers.

Unless our societal peers are involved in education or criminal activities such as intimidation, blackmail, fraud or political violence, then they have few opportunities to efficiently control our actions. The exception to this is the use of manipulation, a method of social control much more democratically available to the man in the street. The generalised availability of many methods of manipulation makes it the method of choice of social control in interpersonal relationships.

Of course, institutions have access to many more resources than private individuals, and this gives them much greater access to all methods of social control. In this context, methods of institutional social control could be defined as, "those actions which permit a government or management to govern and bring about changes without interruption or opposition from those it governs or manages".