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Conformity to and Violation of Norms – Essay

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1. Indoctrination:

We conform to the norms because we have been indoctrinated to do so from our very childhood.

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2. Habituation:

We conform to them because we become habituated to them.

3. Utility:

We appreciate the utility of the norms and hence we conform to them.

4. Group Identification:

By conforming to the norms we gain identification with the group. Hence we prefer to conform to them.

Violation of Norms:

Society functions in orderly fashion most of the times because most people conform to the norms of their group unthinkingly. Thus, ordinarily people wear what is expected of them, eat what is expected of them, do what is expected of them, talk what is expected of them, and even think what is expected of them. And so long as this occurs the society functions smoothly.

But this is not the whole story. People not only conform to the norms automatically but also violate the normative expectations with more or less the same frequency. The violation of the norms is often called “deviance”. The violation of norms may be traced to at least three sources:

(a) Simple Violations of norms:

Some norms which are not strongly enforced are often vio­lated. Government officials may often use their official vehicles for personal purposes. Some may force their entry into the bus without observing the rule of queue, etc.

(b) Norm Conflict:

Complex societies have multiple, and sometimes conflicting value sys­tems. It follows then, that norms frequently are in conflict. Example: American sex norms. In America, there are some groups which condemn and disapprove of pre-marital and extra-marital sex relations and some others that approve of such relations. Normative conflict is deeply involved in the process of social change.

(c) Existence of Systematic Norms Evasion:

Sometimes norms are systematically or cleverly evaded on certain occasions. For example, forbidden drugs are sold and used in festivals, causal gathering places, university campuses in an illegal way. Law enforcement officials also fail to take actions on some such occasions. Some of the norms are carefully evaded permanently. Tax payers often evade taxes in such a way.

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