Norms are
basically an unwritten rule in a society, were it guides individuals on how to
act in certain situations or within a group of people. It is a societal
expectation, it is a standard to which we are expected to conform, whether we
do so or not. It’s how people should look or act. If individuals do not follow
them sometimes it can be problematic. Norms can be really helpful to us as they
are a way of making society flow. There are at least 4 types of norms, Folkways,
Mores, Taboos, and Laws.


Folkways are
behaviours that are approved within a society but not morally. They are habits
of individuals or a group of people which then have been accepted and followed
by its members and eventually been accepted as a way of life. Folkways are
mildly enforced social expectations. For example, in Sweden there is a social
norm about standing on escalators. The correct way to stand is on the right
side if you do not want to walk and let whoever is in a hurry run past you. This
known norm creates flow with people on escalators. However, if some people are
not aware of the unspoken rule this could lead to frustration within others. Although
not knowing this folkway may not get them into serious trouble by the law, it
will, however, agitate whoever is behind them on trying to get past. Folkways mark
the difference between rude and polite behaviour, they exercise a type of
pressure on society to act some certain type of way, they do not have moral
significance and there are rarely serious consequences or sanctions for
breaking one. Majority of the time folkways don’t cause problems within
society, however when a person from a different culture enters they may not
know the norms of the new society which many ruffles a few feathers.


Secondly there
are mores. These norms are considered stricter than folkways, because these are
considered more ethical behaviours as they map out the difference between wrong
and right. Breaking mores are more sternly frowned upon, society feels strongly
about these so violating would lead to disapproval from others. For example, mores
are religious doctrines. For instance, many religions have prohibitions on
having sex or moving in with a partner before marriage. So, if someone from a
strict religious background does so, their family, friends and community would
likely view this behaviour as immoral. They may sanction their behaviour by scolding
them and threatening punishment in the afterlife. These actions are taken to
show them that their actions are not acceptable and for them to change their
behaviour. Mores are often conflicting between cultures, as moving in with a
partner is normal in western society but considered devious in eastern cultures.


there are taboos which are strictly forbidden in society. A taboo is an
unthinkable action that even the thought of violating it triggers social
punishment. Individuals that do not conform are considered deviant which results
in extreme disgust and expulsion from society or a specific group. The violator
is sometimes considered not fit for living within the society after they commit
the taboo, such as cannibalism. This became increasingly forbidden in modern history, as mainstream
religions have typically frowned on the practice, labelling it as barbaric and
driving it almost to extinction as it causes extreme disgust within society, this
act is taboo in almost every culture. If caught in the act offenders are
prosecuted. The problems that I found to be present with this taboo is that it
is conflicting with the values of people in China. Aborting
innocent and healthy unborn children and eating them to boost one’s stamina and
sexual health is a violation of human rights. There are ancient Chinese traditions that considered ingestion of
firstborns and aborted foetuses, as a part of the mother’s flesh. Hence, why
the mother believed that it was her right to reabsorb her unborn baby to create
a new healthier baby. This belief was common in Chinese societies that
practiced cannibalistic infanticide. Chinese
people that practice this think it’s normal as cannibalism is not illegal in China,
however to the rest of the world’s population where it is strictly illegal, it
has conflicted views and society is disgusted by it.

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Lastly a
law is a written
norm that is officially enforced. It is the arrangement of guidelines which a specific nation or group
perceives as managing the actions of its members and which might uphold by the
inconvenience of penalties. Laws exist in light of the fact that the infringement
of the standards of conduct they represent would commonly bring about injury or
harm to someone else such as murder, or are considered infringement of the
property rights of others. When somebody abuses a law, contingent upon the sort
of infringement, a light (payable fine) to extreme (detainment) endorse will be
enforced. Social norms such as beating a child is nasty so there needs to be a
law in place to limit the nastiness of beating any child to an extent. Problems
with laws are that it benefits the rich and powerful. Some violators
escape punishment. Those violators are a vast population of the rich and
powerful. So, if someone with a lot of money beat their child past an extent
then they would possibly use their money and power to escape punishment as they
can pay bail and get out.


Norms can
be useful in a way that can create flow throughout society and different
cultures. However, sometimes norms are negative as they make people conform to
a different societal way of living, sometimes they are strictly forbidden among
society or prohibited by law.


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