Why do people comply to social rules and expectation.

Essay by onegaiUniversity, Bachelor's February 2004

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Why Do People Comply With Social Rules and Expectation?

Rules are statement on what can, should or must be done in particular circumstances. They govern our daily life whether we are aware of them or not. Rules are divided into two, direct rules(written formal rules) such as laws regarding manslaughter or incest and indirect rules(unwritten informal rules) such as norms, values and traditions of a particular society. Social expectation serves as a powerful tool to reinforce common beliefs and hopes. For example, in the old days women are expected to be submissive, inferior and graceful and men masculine, dominant and tough. Clearly such traits are socially constructed.

On the surface, it seems that people comply with the socially constructed rules and expectation to be accepted and approved by the society. One theory that deals with the issue of conformity and social order with much depth is that of Functionalism. Durkheim saw human being as having to sides to their nature- the homo duplex model. One side is controlled by the desire to satisfy their needs, the selfish egotistical part and the other side has the ability to believe in moral codes and values. Then, why does most human being follow one course and comply with social rules and expectation instead of the other?

Social norms define what kinds of behaviors individuals are expected to display or to avoid in particular social situations. Norms are often seen as specific expressions of values. Therefore, Durkheim believed that the answer of why people comply with rules and expectation lie in consensus, in a collective conscience consists of common believes in values and norms. To maintain the level of social order and solidarity, behaviors and actions must be regulated and those that have become patterned and predictable must be continued. Through the...