Types of Social Norms

Infouniversitas.com - Hello everyone! Social norms play a crucial role in society by offering guidance on permissible, obligatory, or prohibited behavior in social interactions. These norms help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts while influencing helping behavior.

Social norms influence individuals' conduct in various social settings, including appropriate greetings, attire choices, and public behavior.

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    Understanding societal expectations is vital as it assists individuals in navigating interactions and steering clear of adverse outcomes.

    Behaving in a manner that deviates from social norms can result in exclusion from the community or experiencing adverse outcomes, such as rejection or disapproval. Comprehending and adhering to social norms is crucial for flourishing within any society.

    Understanding Social Norms

    Types of Social Norms
    Types of Social Norms

    Social norms are collective societal expectations and regulations that direct conduct within a community. They encompass the unspoken guidelines that govern appropriate behavior in diverse social contexts. These standards are acquired through social upbringing and are upheld through various mechanisms, including social endorsement or censure, incentives, and penalties.

    Examples of social norms encompass behaviors like expressing gratitude, waiting in line, and respecting others' speaking time. These norms vary across cultures and can even differ within different regions or communities within the same culture.

    Social norms are upheld through a variety of methods. They can be maintained through informal measures, such as social influence or disapproval from others.

    For example, if someone violates a social norm by speaking loudly in a library, they may receive disapproving looks or comments from others. Social norms can also be enforced through formal means, such as laws and regulations.

    Types of Social Norms

    There are several types of social norms, each with its own level of importance and consequences for violation. These include folkways, mores, taboos, and laws.

    1. Folkways

    Folkways are the everyday customs and conventions that guide behavior in society. They are the least serious type of social norm and violations are typically met with mild disapproval or social sanctions. Folkways are learned through socialization and vary across cultures and communities.

    Folkways encompass behaviors such as using "please" and "thank you," holding the door for others, and speaking quietly in public spaces. While these norms may appear insignificant, they are crucial for upholding societal order and cohesion.

    They provide a framework for polite and considerate behavior, helping individuals navigate social interactions. Folkways are important in society because they help establish social norms and expectations. They provide a sense of predictability and stability in social interactions.

    Adhering to folkways fosters trust and cooperation within a society, contributing to the prevention of conflicts and misunderstandings by ensuring clarity about expected behavior in varied social contexts.

    2. Mores

    Mores are the moral norms and values that are deeply ingrained in a society. They are more serious than folkways and carry a greater level of social significance. Violations of mores are met with stronger disapproval and may result in more severe social consequences.

    Norms like honesty, consideration for others, and loyalty in relationships are crucial for societal functioning. Breaching these standards can lead to social isolation or being excluded from the community.

    Mores play a crucial role in shaping a moral framework for behavior and aiding individuals in ethical decision-making. They are essential for upholding social order and unity within society.

    Social norms create a collective sense of values and beliefs that unite individuals. Adhering to these societal expectations fosters trust, cooperation, fairness, and justice by requiring respectful and dignified treatment of others.

    3. Taboos

    Taboos are the behaviors or actions that are considered completely unacceptable within a society. They are the most serious type of social norm and violations are met with strong social sanctions. Taboos often carry a strong moral or religious significance and are deeply ingrained in cultural beliefs.

    For example, In nearly all cultures, actions such as incest, cannibalism, and murder are universally condemned. Violating these taboos can lead to severe social consequences, including societal rejection or legal penalties.

    Taboos are significant in society as they help set limits and delineate what is deemed morally acceptable conduct. They create a distinct boundary between right and wrong, aiding individuals in making ethical choices. Additionally, taboos function as a mechanism of social regulation by instilling a fear of societal repercussions, deterring individuals from participating in taboo actions.

    4. Laws

    Laws are official regulations enforced by the government, representing a formal type of social norm. Violations can lead to legal repercussions like fines or imprisonment, making them a serious matter.

    Laws are established to preserve order and safeguard the rights and welfare of individuals within a community. They encompass traffic laws, property regulations, and criminal statutes, which are upheld by the legal system. Breaches of these laws can result in legal repercussions.

    Laws establish a structure for conduct and ensure that individuals are responsible for their behavior. They play a crucial role in society by preserving social organization and safeguarding the rights of individuals.

    They offer a framework for equity and impartiality, guaranteeing that people are treated equally within the legal system. Additionally, laws prevent disorder and lawlessness by setting specific standards of conduct and enforcing penalties for breaches.


    In summary, social norms are unspoken regulations and anticipated conduct that control behavior within a community. These standards play a critical role in upholding stability and unity in society. Grasping social norms is essential as they establish guidelines for acceptable actions and assist individuals in navigating social engagements.

    There are various categories of social norms, such as folkways, mores, taboos, and laws. Folkways encompass the everyday customs and conventions that direct behavior in society. Mores constitute the ethical norms and values deeply embedded in a society.

    Taboos are behaviors or actions that are deemed entirely unacceptable in a society. Laws consist of the formal rules and regulations enforced by the government.

    Each category of social norm plays a crucial role in society, from setting societal expectations to preserving order and advocating for moral conduct. Understanding these norms helps individuals effectively engage in social interactions and contribute to a balanced and efficiently operating society.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are social norms, and why are they important?

    Social norms are the collective standards and regulations that steer conduct within a community. They play a vital role in upholding order and coherence by establishing boundaries for acceptable behavior, assisting individuals in navigating social engagements.

    2. How are social norms enforced?

    Social norms are upheld through different methods. They can be enforced informally, with social pressure or disapproval from others, and formally, through laws and regulations.

    3. What are the different types of social norms?

    There are various categories of social norms, such as folkways, mores, taboos, and laws. Folkways pertain to everyday customs and conventions, mores encompass moral norms and values, taboos represent behaviors or actions considered entirely unacceptable, while laws consist of formal rules and regulations enforced by the government.

    4. What are some examples of folkways, and why are they important?

    Folkways examples encompass using polite phrases like "please" and "thank you," displaying courteous behavior such as holding the door open for others, and refraining from speaking loudly in public settings. These practices are significant as they contribute to shaping social norms and anticipations, fostering a predictable and stable environment in social engagements, while also nurturing trust and collaboration among society members.

    5. What are taboos and what role do they play in society?

    Taboos are behaviors or actions that are deemed entirely unacceptable within a community, including incest, cannibalism, and murder. They play a crucial role in setting limits and determining morally permissible conduct. Additionally, they function as a means of societal regulation by deterring individuals from participating in taboo behaviors due to the apprehension of facing social consequences.

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