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Social Norms Essay

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Updated: Apr 10th, 2020

Norms and Reactions to Norm Violations

A norm is a complex concept traditionally defined as the standard of beliefs and understandings that control human behavior in society (Spillius 75). On the other hand, psychologists define norms as informal understanding that regulates people’s behavior in smaller units such as offices (Spillius 75).

In addition, psychologists accentuate two components of social norms, namely, the behavior exhibition and acceptance by the group. Specific norms may characterize expectations of the culture. Norms are important because they act as behavior guidelines and help maintain order in society.

Norms are classified into four dimensions, which are taboos, mores, laws, and folkways. Folkways constitute daily actions that accord to the custom. Violations of such rules usually do not amount to serious penalty.

A more is a set of norms that promotes moral values in the society, the violation of which is fraught with dire consequences. Laws are written norms enforceable by a state agency, the breach of which leads to criminal liability. As far as taboos are concerned, their violation leads to an extreme penalty such as condemnation from society.

How we learn social norms

Social norms shape the behaviors and actions of individuals to a considerable extent. They represent an unwritten policy concerning the expected human behavior. Social norms are fundamental in promoting order and control in society. These rules reflect the behavioral patterns of members of a certain group. The application of these norms can be achieved through sanctions or body language in case of unofficial enforcement.

Sanctions are the expressions constructed on the approval or disapproval of certain types of behavior that vary depending on the values of the society. Sanctions can either be positive or negative depending on the society’s thoughts (Spillius 175). Positive sanctions are rewarded with prizes such as gifts and money, while negative ones are heavily discouraged.

Socialization and internalization provide a framework for conformity to norms in the society (Spillius 205). In the event of nonconformity, social control tools such as punishments, fines, and ostracism are implemented to restore order and control.

The understanding of social norms begins with the individual’s upbringing. Socially acceptable behaviors become a part of the person’s values from childhood to adulthood. For example; I remember at my tender age, belching while eating was unacceptable in my family. But violations of such rules did not amount to moral punishment. Although the discovery did make me feel uncomfortable about my manners and culture, it only helped me become a decent member of society and learn to meet its standards.

Observations of social norms in college

Different settings have specific expectations on the behavior of individuals. A college is a place that brings people from all walks of life in terms of socio-economic and political backgrounds together (Spillius 65). Due to this cultural diversity, set rules and regulations help in restoring order and discipline.

Values like discipline, sharing, and trusts are highly valued at college and in any institution. During class work, students are expected to raise their hands before making contributions to the debate. I remember one of the students expressing her concern without the lecturer’s permission, which violated the provisions of the classroom norms.

Violation of social norms

Upon detection, the lecturer expelled the student from the classroom pending disciplinary action. Students reacted angrily because they felt that their peer had violated the classroom norms of the college. So I would say the behavior leading to ostracizing the students doing socially biased things is a negative social norm. The behavior resulted in a violation of mores. Secondly, the classroom rules should focus on promoting positive social norms.

Sharing information is encouraged through group discussions and joint assignments, and violations of such norms would amount to breaking norms of folkways. Sharing and respect are some of the norms that we practice in our daily activities, and violations of these social norms usually lead to stringent penalties.

Works Cited

Spillius, Elizabeth. Family and Social Network: Roles, Norms, and External Relationships in Ordinary Urban Families. New York, NY: Free Press, 1971. Print.

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