The Importance Of Social Norms

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‘Social norms’ are the foundational notions of the society (Horne 2007), defined as – “that each individual in the society finds it in his interest to follow the social standard behaviour”. i.e., norms are the “acceptable standards of behaviour within a group that are shared by the group’s members” (Robbins 1989), which effectively controls the individual and group behaviour in certain social situations (Hackman 1976). It refers to a form of informal social control (Feldman 1984) that obviates the need for more formal, legal and institutionalised sanctions. Adding to it, Onyx and Bullen (2000) defines that, “generally unwritten but commonly understood formulas determining the expected pattern of behaviour in a given social context which forms…show more content…
In social capital research, scholars typically assume a connection between networks and norms, and argue that increase in social capital produce positive outcome, though not always but often (Horne 2007). Since norms are formed and maintained by networks of interpersonal interactions beyond agreements (Friedkin 2001), they will form a strong influence on group-based behaviour and are difficult to change (Parks 2011). Hence in various instances, norms are seen as basis of building and maintaining personalised trust, and also to define what actions are acceptable or unacceptable (Lyon 2000) - providing a social standard of behaviour that drives the coordination for individuals during conflict situations (Fujiwara and Postlewaite 1995). Thus, norms are more precisely described as: (i) a behavioural regularity (Coleman 1990; Horne 2001) (ii) It is based on a socially shared belief how one ought to behave, which triggers (iii) the enforcement of the prescribed behaviour by informal social sanctions (Fehr and Gachter 1998; 2000). In nutshell, norms are rules about the behaviour that are enforced through social sanctions affecting the people behaviour (Coleman 1990; Horne 2001). Correspondingly, the earlier literatures on social norms are measured on two dimensions: First, the behavioural dimensions about the mount or extent of acceptability and the second dimension are on evaluation of approval or…show more content…
2006), governing the myriad facets of daily life- and are considered as a pervasive feature of society. There consensus and coordination are required in order to function properly (Smith 2010). It is nothing but giving common orientations toward social conduct that prevail in a society or group (Blau 1960).These internalised orientations can be plausibly ascertained in empirical research through eliciting the details of norms held by the members in a community. Supporting to it, the previous scholarly studies (Sherif 1935; 1936; Crowe and Higgins 1997; Levine et al. 2000) on norms formation in groups demonstrates that people who work together over time can converge in their strategic orientations for attacking problems and finding solutions to them. On a adding note, discussing Colemann’s conceptualization of social capital, Edwards and Foley (1998) state that norms and networks held by individuals become social capital and play an important role in facilitating collective action, which are closely related to the n-person Prisoner’s Dilemma (Bicchieri 1990). The so far discussed literature on conceptualization of social norms and cooperative behaviour emphasises that- although they are featuring prominently in theory and empirical research, the nature and formation of cooperative behaviour and norms in relationship to social capital are extremely complex, intangible and

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