Social Norm as a Restriction of Human Behavior.

Essay by elenUniversity, Bachelor'sA, December 2005

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Part I : Theoretical Overview

Social Norms: General Concepts

The term social norm stands for a rule being enforced by society that affects a wide range of human behavior. The crucial point when distinguishing between social norms and other cultural values such as meanings - is the sanctioning, thus social norms take the highest place in the hierarchy of values of society. Within the last decade social norms have literally been rediscovered, as prior to these years the concept of social norms was largely ignored. The major part of the contemporary studies are concerned with the idea of integrating social norms into the law and economics paradigm or, on the other side of the fence, other studies include the social norms into one combining law and socioeconomics model, that unites law and economics and law and society disciplines into one conception. (Etzioni, A. 156) Robert Ellickson in 1991 pointed out, that social norms take a significant place in the traditional law and economics models emphasizing the roles of social norms in terms of social order maintenance.


Social Norms: The Ongoing Debate

There are three major pairs of opposing concepts presented by Amitai Etzioni in 2000 (158) a deeper insight into which is essential when exploring the subject in detail: whether social norms affect behavior of society only as external (environmental) factors or their influence is much deeper and social norms shape people's intrinsic predispositions; the processes by which norms tend to influence people: whether processes are modifiable through internalization and persuasion or they are fixed and, consequently, predetermined; finally, the way social norms themselves are formed: rational choice or historical transmissions. It is essential to at least briefly overview the three ongoing debates, as this is where the key understanding of both amplification and role of social...