Social Norms Definition and Functions & Types of Social Norms

Thu, 10/11/2012 - 11:23 -- Umar Farooq

Definition of Social Norms

Social norms clearly define the roles of the individuals or people in different situations hence these social norms are the codes of mutual relationship. These draw a line between what is right and what is wrong. These guide our interaction patters on one hand and are reproduced during the same process. These differentiate between the behavior of human and animal and develop during the social processes. According to Young & Mack "Norms refers to the group shared expectations".

Norms are not the formal laws in society but still it play an important role in social control and can be imposed formally through sanctions or body gestures and creates conformity which allow people to socialize to their culture. It is possible the people have certain norms adopted from previous organization. When come to new place they don’t have any idea to react and rely on previous on past experience.

Functions of Social Norms

Control Behaviour: Social norms control our behaviour in the way that they provide a set pattern for our behaviour. These set patterns become customs when are socially approved. The people are expected to follow these customs.

Making behaviour systematic and patterned: Another function is that the behaviour of the people becomes systematic and patterned. In society harmony, among members of group is created Due to harmony of behaviour certain laws can be enforced to control them. It means law and order can be maintained in society due to an order in social behaviour.

Safeguard of our values: It is to safeguard our sociocultural, values. These are the guardians of our values.

Maintains social order of society:  These creates social control and maintain fabric of society. These allow people to analyze what is important for the survival of group behavior.

Create social cohesions and social solidarity: It create social harmony and improve social integration.

Helps in self-control: Norms are also helpful in making self-control.

Assists society for its survival: Survival of society is dependent on norms.

The social norms are not found among animals. Only human societies have norms. Animals donot have these  in their life hence no 'question of their violation. Therefore, the norms are more cultural than social in nature. They give human beings a shape of society with culture.

Types of Social Norms

Folkways. According to Lundberg “Folkways are the typical or habitual beliefs, attitudes and styles of conduct observed within a group of community.”

Mores. “The Term mores is best reserved for those customs which connote fairly strong feelings of the tightness or wrongness of mode of behavior.”

Laws. It is the basic element of social control. It is written in books and product of society as per the social conditions of life.