What is Norm?
Norms are the standard of conduct that is shared by the people living in a society and guides their behavior. Norms are informal. They are not written down as are rules and procedures. Norms are valuable because they define boundaries of acceptable behavior. They make life easier for the people living in the society by providing a frame of reference for what is right and wrong. Norms identify key values, clarify role expectations, and facilitate society’s survival. Norms that apply to both day-to-day behavior and people’s output gradually evolves (Bicchieri). Norms, thus tell what is acceptable and direct people’s action towards acceptable productivity.
The sense of propriety and morality which norms establish enable us to interact with others in an effective, even enjoyable way. First, norms guide us in choosing behaviors that coincides with the expectations of the people around us, enabling us to work cooperatively with others. Second, besides providing a basis for social coordination, norms show us how to fit in. following their guidance, we can relax knowing we are protected from rejection and ridicule.
Going to church and attending the service is a common social norm. I was brought up in a religious family and my parents teach me to attend the church service regularly. They taught me that there is nothing in all the pomp of the world, the enjoyment of the luxury and the gratification of passion, comparable to the tranquil delight of good spiritual qualities. It is health of mind. It is a sweet perfume that diffuses its fragrance over everything near it without exhausting its store. Good soul qualities are indeed the peace of God. Passions lulled to sleep, clear thoughts, cheerful tempers, a disposition to be pleased with every obvious and innocent object around; these are the effects of having spiritual qualities and these are the things that constitute happiness.
Every Sunday going to church becomes my second nature. One Sunday, just to break the monotony and for the sake of experiment I missed the service. It was a miserable experience and my conscience continuously poked me that I did wrong. Although I tried to avoid the feeling but someone inside me was continuously telling me that I have missed something very important.
Reaction of People
People who are close to me and people who meet me in the church were amazed to know that I have missed the church service. They all knew that I am a person who believes that it is our religion that tells us what is right and what is wrong; what is good and what is evil, what is fair and what is foul, what is moral and what is immoral, what is to be done and what is to be shunned etc. I really felt ashamed when people asked whether I was feeling well or not because they do not expect from a person like me to miss the church service.
Usefulness and importance of this Norm
The violation of this norm and reproving of my conscience distinctively gives the message that I did a wrong thing. Man is a responsible being, and he is answerable for his deeds. Where there is no responsibility there is no room for the conscience, which is universally in man as an involuntary judge of right and wrong; which will often present action or the indulgence of thought by its motions and which will pass sentence upon conduct almost before there has been time to review it.
Attending church service regularly instilled spiritual values in my personality. These are the great repositories and magazine of all those pleasures that can afford solid refreshment to the soul. But it is the only pious life led exactly by the rules of the severe religion that can authorize a man’s conscience to speak comfortably to him. Its second ennobling property is that it bestows such pleasure as never satiates nor wearies, for it property affects the spirit. But an epicure cannot say so of any pleasures that he so much dotes upon.
In our present world we have suffered from international tensions, mutual hatred and economic exploitation. The spiritual barrenness has killed human conscience. The only hope for humanity lies in the religion, in the revival of moral values and in the revival of spiritual values and spirituality. As long as vices dominate our lives, there can be no peace, no happiness. Happiness is bound to come with the spiritual values and spirituality. Thus, we can say that, spirituality had been in need in all times and especially at present
Society without Norms
Society is a large population, usually enduring at least several generations and sharing a territory and a way of life. Social structure represents the motorways of our social world: the stable, predictable, patterned relationships among people. This structure organizes our social life and channels our behaviors as the roadways channel the flow of traffic. While it limits our choices and confines our behavior to certain socially approved alternatives, it also confers on our social life order, routine, and coherence. Daydreams aside, a complex culture obviously requires such structures to coordinate all its parts so that the system can function.
If there are no values and norms in the society the society is in chaos. In fact, it is difficult to imagine social life at all without the communication of norms to establish order for beings lacking instincts to guide their social behaviors. These rules or guidelines provide direction for us. They outline those behaviors that are appropriate or permitted in any given situation. They help maintain an orderly flow of social behaviors, guiding our choices with a sense of what is proper and what is not, a sense of ‘should’ and ‘should not’. In the
, for example, norms
inform us that we may have only one wife but as many girlfriends as we like.
While in Iranian culture, girlfriends are prohibited but a man can have four
wives as allowed by Islam. United States
Bicchieri, Cristina, “The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms”, New
York: Cambridge University Press, 2006