Social Norms: Theory Of Theory And Social Differences

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Introduction
“The human capacity to establish and enforce social norms is perhaps the decisive reason for the uniqueness of human cooperation in the animal world.” (Fehr and Fischbacher 2004) Social norms can be defined as the standards and rules that are mutually understood by members of a group, which shape and/or constrain social behaviour without the force of laws, when multiple equilibria are present. Social norms are social constructs which may be used to explain human behaviour and can determine how members of groups or societies dress, speak and interact with one another. In addition to commonly accepted rules of encouraged behaviour, social norms can also form taboos against social behaviour such as infanticide. (Cialdini and Trost 1998) It is in fact quite difficult to think of any form of social interaction that is not governed to some extent by social norms. Two major schools of thought, sociologistic/functionalist and rational choice have contributed theories attempting to explain the origin of social norms and why we choose to maintain them. (Fehr and Gintis 2007)
Some norms are upheld for the sake of coordination and are largely self-enforcing. These are known as conventions. Examples of such norms are which side of the road we choose to drive on, shaking hands using your right hand and other forms of etiquette. If the norm is to drive on the left side of the road, groups members will conform to this expectation in order to avoid accidents. Other norms do not

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