The House Rules They are those that regulate the performance of people in an organized society, in such a way that individuals can share the same space in a harmonious, constructive and controlled way. For example: cover the modest parts, the obligation to greet each other, respect for life.
They are also known as norms of social coexistence since they are the guarantors that human beings can understand each other and be governed by a more or less related code of conduct.
This does not mean that the norms of coexistence cannot be broken within the same society or that violating them leads to social chaos; However, the less an individual or a group adheres to certain patterns of common behavior, the more unpredictable their altercations and the more frequent their friction and discomfort in front of the other. And all this, given the right conjuncture, could result in violence, contempt for the other or even in separation or social disorder.
After all, the proverb says that “No man is an island”, meaning that in order to benefit from life in society, we must adapt to a certain common standard.
This does not mean that these norms are set in stone: in fact they change over time and obey the changes and new living conditions of the community that promulgates them.
Types of coexistence rules
We can speak of three types of social norm of coexistence, according to the nature of its guiding principles:
- Conventional standards. These are inherited norms, dictated by common sense and by convention (hence their name) and which tend to vary between different societies and cultures. The greeting, the dress, the commemoration of special events, the order of the sexes and the customs, are some of the areas in which these norms are imposed. Breaking them is often considered rude or disrespectful, depending on the issue at hand.
- Moral standards. They have to do with a specific vision of evil and good, of ethics and of socially approved behaviors against the condemned. Thus, a given moral norm can be violated only at a social cost within a specific community, while in others it can be something completely everyday and inconsequential.
- Legal norms. Unlike the others, they are contemplated in a written code (the laws) and are coercive: they enjoy the protection of the state agencies in charge of ensuring compliance. In general, these are norms that protect the well-being of the rights of the community or of other individuals and that, therefore, govern acceptable and punishable legal conduct in all types of social matters. Violating them is considered a crime and carries strict penalties according to the nature of the crime committed.
These three types of norm can conflict with each other and they can contemplate exceptions. One can choose which conventions to abide by, adhere to certain chosen moral principles, but cannot disobey the laws of a specific society as one prefers.
In mild cases of conventional and moral norms, the reaction of the community and social ostracism may be the sanction imposed by the community itself on the transgressor of the norm, or simple antipathy. Instead, the legal norms imply a more formal and exemplary punishment, carried out by the public order forces in charge of it.
Examples of coexistence rules
- Cover the bashful parts. This moral norm applies to both men’s and women’s bodies, but in our patriarchal society it tends to be more cruel to hers. The norm establishes that the parts considered modest (especially the genitals and the butt, but also the breasts of women) must be kept covered at all times except intimacy.
- Protection of the weak. One of the guiding principles of life in society, stipulates that the strongest must refrain from taking advantage over the weak and that society must protect the latter. It is a principle of compassion of a moral nature and to a certain extent legal, since the State as such serves to ensure, in theory, that the rights of the weak are not violated with impunity by the strong.
- The distinction of what is foreign and what is own. Another fundamental commandment of civilized life, which stipulates the distance between what one possesses and what others possess. This distance is insurmountable except in specific and generally regulated transactions, such as the purchase, gift or assignment, and transgressing it is usually considered a crime: theft or robbery.
- The obligation to greet each other. The greeting is part of the most universal protocol commandments of humanity, and maintains that one should offer whoever meets for the first time in the day a gesture of recognition: a greeting. It is not well seen that one communicates with others without resorting to these minimal courtesy formulas, and in fact failing to comply with them can make a difference in the treatment received. It is also not seen well not to respond to the greeting of another and is usually considered a declaration of contempt or hostility.
- The trial of homosexuality. Although protected by the legal regulations of many countries, love relationships with individuals of the same sex are still taboo and considered immoral or offensive by many human communities. This is a perfect example of a discrepancy between the legal apparatus and the moral vision of the community.
- The table manners. There are numerous forms of etiquette that dictate ideal table behavior, according to one’s social and cultural context. Thus, a formal dinner will impose more rigid manners, while a family one is more permissive. This can go through the way of holding the cutlery, to more elementary principles such as chewing with your mouth closed.
- Respect for life. Most human legal codes reserve to the State, in the best of cases, the administration of life and death in a community. Merciless murder is perhaps the most punishable crime in all legal systems, since it violates a fundamental principle of life in society, which is to value the life of others as your own. This obviously does not happen in all societies, and is often killed for political, social, economic and passion reasons. However, the legal framework of each society also contemplates the sanctions to be applied and the way in which said crime should be punished.
- Hide sexual intercourse. Although our societies seem to be very focused on the sexual, one of the most common moral principles watches over the concealment of sex, which must take place in the strictest intimacy of the couple. This in fact is classified as an “offense to public morals” in many legal codes.
- Make and respect the line. To the extent that not all of us can receive the services and goods that we want at the same time, the need for the queue, the queue or the row is imposed, that is, to wait one after another for our turn in order of arrival, whether it’s being cared for in a store, getting on the bus, or going to a concert.
- The length of the hair. An absolutely conventional rule dictates, in most countries, that men should wear short hair and women long hair. This rule, inherited from morally stricter times, has been made more flexible for many eras and that is why today it is possible to wear your hair as you please, although you will also have to deal with the reaction of those who result in that matter more conservatives than us.