Social Norms: Conformity and Violation of Laws

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Importance of Norms

Importance of Norms
  • Assist in survival
  • A normal society is not possible
  • Norms guide behaviour
  • Permit efficient functioning
  • Helps to maintain the social order
  • Norms help self-control

The Concept of Conformity and Violation of Laws

  • Conformity means to conform to the norms as a sense of obligation
  • It is a standard of behaviour which everyone must follow
  • When the norms are conformed it is considered as normal

Reasons for Conformity to Norms

  • Hope for reward
  • Fear of punishment
  • Indoctrination – indoctrinated to do so and so from childhood - part of socialization
  • Habits – we become habitual
  • Utility - we appreciate their utility
  • Group identification - we prefer to conform to them so that we gain identification within and with the group

Sources of Violation or Deviance

  • Simple violation of norms - norms are not strongly enforced
  • Non-conflicting complex societies can have conflicting value systems- for example, extramarital relationship
  • Existence of systematic norms evasion - for example, smuggling and tax evasion

What Does Institutionalization Mean?

  • According to Horton and Hunt
  • Institutionalization is the process of institutionalizing the norms.
  • Certain limits for behaviour they are sanctioned by the group
  • Accepted and internalized by many members of the group
  • In this process, norms are established and stated
  • Positions, role functions are allocated
  • It replaces spontaneous or experimental behaviour with --expected, patterned, regular and predictable behaviour

Conditions when a Social Norm Can be Said Institutionalized

  • When many members of the social system accept the norm
  • When the norm is taken seriously and internalized by a sizeable number of people
  • When the norm is sanctioned – specific number of members accept norms under certain circumstances


Q. 1. Rekha has a habit of stopping by every time she sees the red light on Traffic Light. Even when some Cars move ahead, she does not. In this case, her conformity is because of:

a) Indoctrination

b) Utility

c) Group identification

d) All of the above

Ans: a)

Q. 2. By advertising about Protection of women, raising gender awareness, creating norms in the society the Govt. is indirectly:

a) Promoting feminism

b) Boosting self-control

c) Boosting social control

d) Boosting deviants

Ans: b) and c)





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