Norms are a collection of beliefs on how a certain group of people should behave. They are elements that are considered as informal understanding that governs individuals and the behavior of the society. Ideally, social norms are behaviors and prompts that exist in a society. Amplified efforts to establish social norms within a human being are regarded as the most effective activities of the society. This is because they approve and disapprove the different ways through which people carry do things, talk, and dress (Cherry, 2013). However, these norms are different due to the different societies that exist in the universe. For instance, what is deemed right to speak, do or even dress is different from one social group to the other? Ideally, the difference in social norms determines the popularity and acceptance of a person in a particular group. It is definite that every single value that is identified in a person has to be initiated in the person and then maintained. This ensures that the social norms that are incorporated in a society gain a background. This paper intends to elaborate, precisely how social norms are constructed and maintained.
Social norms perform a critical, yet hilarious, function of coordinating people’s expectations that are deemed to own multiple equilibria. Given that social norms have a wide range of observable facts, they are given optimum seriousness when they are being constructed. This is done to ensure that there is uniformity in behavior within a socially related group (Cherry, 2013) up. However, social norms are dynamic. That is, they suffer from norm-shifts. These shifts prompt the social norms to change in terms of expectations and perception. These changes are well elaborated when compared to the description of the game evolutionary game theory. In brief terms, this theory states that there are some norms that are possessed a stable nature than others in the long-run.
Norms evolve together with time. As time elapses, some of the norms that are already initiated may be terminated or evolved to different ones. One of the best references, when it comes to development of oneself, is the Erikson’s Stages of Psychology Development. He describes the different expectations and behavior that one should adopt as he or she grows up. For instance, there are the observable norms that are termed as legitimate in the intimacy stage of relationships. This means that each step is built on the lessons and skills that were developed in the last step. This gradual development of social norms, among other norms, qualifies a strong sense of personal identity in human beings.
Before construction or maintenance of any social norms, there are some important issues that need to be addressed. First, self-actualization should be tested. That is; the norms to be designed should be effective in the personal growth and fulfillment of a majority of the members of a specific society. Secondly, they should accommodate the self esteem requirement such as; achievement, personal status, reputation, and responsibility (Cherry, 2013). Third, they should be considerate on the biological and psychological needs. Because of these requirements, the extent to which the people who are responsible for introducing social norms becomes limited. In addition to that, it appears that it is easier to construct them than maintain them.
One of the challenging issues is related on the theory that is applied before a society arrives on a certain norm. The challenge emerges because there are different social equilibria that are available yet the society is supposed to arrive at one only. Ideally, there are a number of ways that these norms are established. Some norms are unintentionally created, while others are constructed intentionally. These elements that lead to the construction of social norms are numerous. First, the vertical or bottom-up pressure in which local customs and practices come together and form social norms. Second, there is lateral persuasion where already established social norms are transformed into different kinds of socialization. Third, the top-down pressure which incorporates official proclamations as well as imitation of possible role models.
It is important to expound on the possible ways by which the social norms are constructed. First, the official pronunciation of the social norms is very much present in the current era. This occurs when the parents or elders and leaders in a social world propose the importance of some social norms to be put into practice. However, the pressure that is experienced in this case is dictatorship. The possibility of maintaining this category of social norms is unpredictable (Cardenas, 2011). In this case, It is the role of the elders to impose these norms after close observations of the good impact they can impose on the societies well being. For instance, an outstanding member of the society may come up with something or an activity that elaborates the essence of possible social control within the society. This becomes the reference point for construction of a social norm.
Relatively, social norms which are deemed to be unintentional may be embraced without consent of the society. For instance, when siblings to an elder child adopt from the good behavior portrayed by the elder ones, this means that this social norm might be passed unintentionally. For instance, obedience and response to the leaders by members of the society may encourage the development of a norm. It is very important to note that social norms that are constructed unintentionally are not likely to weaken easily. This is because they do not exist, as a result of unreasonable pressure from unreasonable pressure.
Complex situations occur when these norms are being maintained. When they are too hard for the society, social defiance is expected. Here, a breaching experiment is appropriate. The first step that is involved in appropriate maintenance of social norms is making efforts to ensure that people are in substantial consent of social norms (Cardenas, 2011). The members of any social group should be in a position to know the full idea of embracing a certain social norm. To ensure that the victims of these social norms are answerable to any defiance, then it is important to ensure that they are trained to adapt to them gradually.
Conclusively, the theory related to Erikson’s stages of psychological development proposes that for any social norm to be deemed effective, it has to be continuously developed from one stage of life to the other. That is, it should start from early childhood through the youthful age to the adulthood. Maintenance of a norm that has a long history is easy. This is because it becomes hard for a person to defy a long-run rule that is already implanted in his or her mind. According to a detailed study by different scholars, it is difficult to maintain a norm in the long-run.
Ball, Kylie, Robert W. Jeffery, Gavin Abbott, Sarah A. McNaughton, and David Crawford. "Is healthy behavior contagious: associations of social norms with physical activity and healthy eating." International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (2010): n. pag. Print.
Cardenas, Juan C., Olof Johansson-Stenman, and Henk Folmer. "Social Norms and Behavior in the Local Commons as Seen Through the Lens of Field Experiments." Environmental & Resource Economics (2011): n. pag.
Cherry, Kendra. "Erikson's Psychosocial Stages - Young Adulthood, Middle Age, and Old Age." About.com Psychology. N.p., 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.
Rapid Wall-Breaching Kit, Ingress Hole Determination Experiment. N.p., 2003.