Norms and Social Norm

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 854 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Words: 854|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Defining Norms
  3. Folkways
  4. Understanding Social Norms
  5. The Role of Norms in Shaping Behavior
  6. Challenges to Norms
  7. Conclusion


In every society, there are certain expectations and behaviors that are considered acceptable and appropriate. These expectations, known as norms, shape our daily interactions and guide our behavior. Norms can be explicit or implicit, written or unwritten, and they vary across cultures and communities. These social norms play a crucial role in maintaining social order, cohesion, and harmony. In this essay, we will explore the concept of norms and social norms, their significance in society, and the ways in which they shape our behavior.

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Defining Norms

Before delving into the intricacies of social norms, it is important to establish a clear understanding of what norms are. Norms can be defined as shared expectations and rules that govern the behavior of individuals within a particular society or group. They are the social guidelines that inform individuals about what is considered appropriate or inappropriate in a given context. Norms can be categorized into various types, such as folkways, mores, and taboos, each with its own level of significance and consequences for violation.


Folkways are the everyday customs and practices that are considered polite and respectful but do not carry severe consequences if violated. For example, saying "please" and "thank you" or holding the door open for someone are folkways that are expected in many societies.


Mores, on the other hand, are norms that carry a greater moral significance. Violating mores can lead to social disapproval or even legal consequences. For instance, stealing or committing murder are considered violations of mores in almost every society.


Lastly, taboos are norms that are deeply ingrained in a society and are considered morally or socially forbidden. These norms are often associated with strong feelings of disgust or horror. In some cultures, cannibalism or incest are considered taboos.

Understanding Social Norms

While norms are individual expectations and rules, social norms refer to the collective expectations and rules that govern the behavior of individuals within a society. Social norms are created and reinforced through socialization, which is the process by which individuals learn the values, beliefs, and behaviors of their culture. Socialization occurs through various agents, such as family, education, media, and peer groups, all of which play a crucial role in shaping an individual's understanding and adherence to social norms.

The significance of social norms lies in their ability to maintain social order and cohesion. They provide a framework for individuals to navigate their social interactions and make sense of the world around them. Social norms also facilitate cooperation and coordination among individuals, by establishing shared expectations and rules for behavior. For example, the norm of queuing in line ensures fairness and order in situations such as waiting for public transportation or making a purchase. Without social norms, chaos and confusion would ensue, making social life challenging and unpredictable.

The Role of Norms in Shaping Behavior

Norms play a fundamental role in shaping human behavior. They act as social pressures or expectations that guide individuals towards conforming to the accepted standards of behavior. Conformity to norms is often driven by a desire for social approval and acceptance, as deviating from norms can lead to social disapproval or even ostracization. However, it is important to note that not all individuals conform to norms in the same way or to the same extent. Factors such as personality, values, cultural background, and situational context can influence an individual's adherence to norms.

Norms also influence behavior through the process of social sanctions. Social sanctions can be positive or negative and are used to enforce and maintain norms. Positive sanctions include rewards, praise, and recognition, while negative sanctions encompass social disapproval, criticism, or even punishment. By applying social sanctions, society reinforces the importance of adhering to norms and discourages deviant behavior. This process of reinforcement ensures that norms continue to shape behavior and maintain social order.

Challenges to Norms

While norms are vital for the functioning of society, they are not immune to criticism and challenges. One of the main criticisms of norms is their potential to perpetuate inequality and discrimination. Norms can reflect and reinforce existing power structures and social hierarchies, often privileging certain groups while marginalizing others. For example, gender norms that prescribe specific roles and behaviors for men and women can limit individual freedom and perpetuate gender inequality.

Another challenge to norms arises from cultural diversity and globalization. As societies become more interconnected, cultural norms collide, leading to conflicts and clashes. In such situations, individuals are faced with the dilemma of adhering to their own cultural norms or adapting to the norms of the dominant culture. This tension between cultural norms can create identity crises and feelings of alienation.

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Norms and social norms are powerful forces that shape our behavior and guide our social interactions. They provide a sense of order, cohesion, and predictability in society. Norms act as social guidelines, ensuring that individuals conform to the accepted standards of behavior. They are created and reinforced through socialization and play a crucial role in maintaining social order and cooperation. However, norms are not without their challenges, as they can perpetuate inequality and clash with cultural diversity. Understanding and critically analyzing norms can help us navigate the complexities of social life and work towards creating inclusive and equitable societies.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Norms And Social Norm. (2024, March 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Norms And Social Norm.” GradesFixer, 19 Mar. 2024,
Norms And Social Norm. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Norms And Social Norm [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 19 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
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