Social Norms: Sanctions, Folkways, Mores, and Taboos — Normative and Non-normative Behavior (PSY, SOC)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:00 Alright, let’s move on to normative and non-normative behavior.

    00:05 So what are we talking about here? We’re talking about how to act properly or normally versus things where people shake their hands, what is he doing? Okay, so, we know that society has social norms.

    00:19 These are things that we know to be the right way to do things versus things when they say, hmm hmm hmmm, you shouldn’t be doing that, alright? So, every society has spoken and unspoken rules and expectations for the behavior of its members called norms.

    00:34 And we’re going to break down the different types of norms in just a moment.

    00:37 We also have sanctions.

    00:38 So these are awards and punishments for behaviors that are in accord with or against norms.

    00:43 So, in simple English, there is norms, the normal way to do things.

    00:47 And, if you do them correctly, you’re rewarded, good job.

    00:51 And if you’re doing things that are against the norm, you’re gonna get in a little bit of trouble.

    00:55 Two types of norms: The first are formal norms, these are written down, precisely defined, accompanied with strict penalties.

    01:04 So these are laws, these are things where, they say, you got to cross a street when this sign is being shown.

    01:11 This is a one-way, don’t go down a one-way.

    01:13 You can’t slap somebody in the face because you feel like it.

    01:17 These are all formally written down rules where you can point to somebody and say, “Well, as it says right here, this isn’t something you should be doing.” versus informal norms; these are generally understood, less precise and they don’t always carry a penalty.

    01:31 So, for example, opening the door for somebody; if you don’t open a door for somebody, you’re not going to go to jail or get a ticket.

    01:38 You might get a dirty look, but you kind of know that, well, I should open up this door for this young lady or this old lady and hand in help around.

    01:47 Helping somebody with her bags or different things like that.

    01:51 Again, there is no real clear rules that you have to do that, but these are things that you understand.

    01:57 So we call those informal norms.

    02:01 Let’s walk through three broad categories of social norms and sort the level of importance or we can almost say the penalties that are associated with each.

    02:10 So the first is Folkways.

    02:12 And what we’re talking about here are norms that are less important but shape everyday behavior and things like I mentioned already, appropriate greetings, when you come up to somebody, you say, “Hi. How are you?” Now, think of a time where you met somebody and you walk in and you’re like, “Hi. How are you?” and they just look away or they don’t say hi back.

    02:32 And what do you say? You say, “Hmm, they’re pretty rude.” or “What’s his problem?” So, now we’re talking about things where it’s right versus rude.

    02:39 Things like going to work with no pants on, probably not a good thing, people might look at you the wrong way, you’re not breaking any laws, I don’t think but they might say that’s not appropriate.

    02:49 Or showing up at work with your pajamas on, not right. Okay? So it’s more, I wouldn’t say rude but just inappropriate.

    02:58 The next is, it’s not, it spells Mores, but it’s not mores, it’s mores; very fancy.

    03:04 Mores are norms that are widely observed and are considered to have greater moral significance than the others.

    03:10 So these are usually enforced; so there’s actually -- something that’s behind that in terms of we can enforce that behavior.

    03:18 It’s just something that you really need to be doing and this is right versus wrong.

    03:22 Okay, so, say for example, you really can’t go and shoot somebody that is wrong and we have laws against that and there’s penalties for that.

    03:32 You can’t go down the street and just punch somebody on the face because they looked at you the wrong way, that is wrong and you can get in trouble for that versus giving somebody a dirty look, that will might be more of a folkway and that you’re looking at somebody, and looking at them the wrong way.

    03:49 Now, the last category is one that you hopefully will never enter and that’s taboo.

    03:55 And this is where you’re really deviating from norms that are sacred or forbidden.

    03:59 and they’re based on moral judgment and religious beliefs; frowned upon by society and considered objectionable.

    04:06 So again, let’s break that down.

    04:07 These are things where you really don’t go there. And you’ve heard that before you saying, “Are you going there?” or that is completely taboo.

    04:14 And what we’re saying is there’s a line in the sand and that anything beyond that society has deemed that to be completely, completely against the norm.

    04:24 Not even against the norm, you're out of the field, you’re completely not even in the same room.

    04:28 and so you’ve now really crossed the line in doing something that is considered highly objectionable.

    04:33 So things like say, cannibalism. Eating human flesh.

    04:38 Or having sexual intercourse with the dead people (necrophilia), or marrying your cousin.

    04:45 These are things that you really shouldn’t do.

    04:47 So marrying your cousin and at the wedding serving human flesh would be really, really taboo.

    04:53 Things that you do not want to do. Okay?

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Social Norms: Sanctions, Folkways, Mores, and Taboos — Normative and Non-normative Behavior (PSY, SOC) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Social Processes That Influence Human Behavior.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Folkways, mores, and taboos
    2. Mores, takeaway, and taboos
    3. Taboos, mores, and folkways
    4. Folkways, mores, and formal
    5. Formal, mores, and folkways
    1. Spoken and unspoken expectations of rules and behaviors of members in a society
    2. Spoken expectations of rules and behaviors of members in a society
    3. Unspoken expectations of rules and behaviors of members in a society
    4. Punishments for behaviors not following spoken and unspoken expectations
    5. Rewards for behaviors not following spoken and unspoken expectations

    Author of lecture Social Norms: Sanctions, Folkways, Mores, and Taboos — Normative and Non-normative Behavior (PSY, SOC)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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