Norm (sociology)

related topics
{theory, work, human}
{law, state, case}
{woman, child, man}
{game, team, player}
{math, number, function}
{rate, high, increase}
{group, member, jewish}
{day, year, event}

Social norms are the behaviors and cues within a society or group. This sociological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit. Failure to follow the rules can result in severe punishments, including exclusion from the group."[1] They have also been described as the "customary rules of behavior that coordinate our interactions with others."[2]

The social norms indicate the established and approved ways of doing things, of dress, of speech and of appearance. These vary and evolve not only through time but also vary from one age group to another and between social classes and social groups. What is deemed to be acceptable dress, speech or behavior in one social group may not be accepted in another.

Deference to the social norms maintains one's acceptance and popularity within a particular group; ignoring the social norms risks one becoming unacceptable, unpopular or even an outcast from a group. Social norms tend to be tacitly established and maintained through body language and non-verbal communication between people in their normal social discourse.

We soon come to know when and where it is appropriate to say certain things, to use certain words, to discuss certain topics or wear certain clothes, and when not to. Such knowledge about cultural norms is important for impression management,[3] which is an individual's regulation of their nonverbal behaviour. We also come to know through experience what types of people we can and cannot discuss certain topics with or wear certain types of dress around. Mostly this knowledge is derived experientially.

Contents

Overview

Social norms can also be viewed as statements that regulate behavior and act as informal social controls. They are usually based in some degree of consensus and are maintained through social sanctions. Three models explain normative rule content:

  • Focus on the actions of one's personal ego
  • Focus on ego's reactions to actions of alternative
  • Negotiation between ego and alternative.

Norms are rules of behavior. They exist as both formal and informal norms, but often the latter is found to be more strong and reinforced. These informal norms are divided into two:

  • Folkways: Informal rules and norms whose violation is not offensive, but expected to be followed. It's a kind of adjusting, accommodating type of habits. It does not invite any punishment or sanctions, but some reprimands or warnings.
  • Mores: They are also informal rules that are not written, but result in severe punishments and social sanction upon the individuals like social and religious exclusions.

Full article ▸

related documents
Sanity
Deception
Robert Nozick
The Blind Watchmaker
Incompatible-properties argument
Non sequitur (logic)
Viruses of the Mind
Behavior
Arnold J. Toynbee
Hierarchical organization
Principle (disambiguation)
Action theory
James P. Hogan (writer)
Social psychology
Artificial life
Social epistemology
Ethnology
Baconian method
John Ralston Saul
Four Temperaments
Applied ethics
Daniel Dennett
Ethnocentrism
Integrity
Observation
Colin Ward
The End of History and the Last Man
Great man theory
Simile
Self-evidence