Norms are established and sought to be respected by all citizens to maintain order and harmony in a given context. For example: do not steal, and treat everyone with respect. They are set so that individuals expectedly interact with each other, and their non-compliance can lead to a sanction or social rejection.
Most of the norms emerge from four primary sources: political order and the regulations that the State decides to impose, a sum of religious sources, a set of moral principles that the community chooses to adopt, and a spontaneous social generation of norms that seek good coexistence. From this, the rules can be:
- Social norms. They are rules that seek to regulate the behavior of citizens to ensure proper coexistence. For example: On public transport, offer your seat to pregnant people.
- Moral standards. They are norms that seek to guarantee that citizens act following the expected values. For example: Do not lie.
- Legal rules. They are rules established by the State to regulate the behavior of citizens and guarantee the common good. They are characterized by being coercible. For example: Smoking is prohibited in closed public spaces in Auckland.
- Religious norms. They are norms established by different religions or creeds to guide the behavior of their parishioners. For example: In the Catholic faith, believers must attend mass on Sundays.
People usually know many rules from childhood because they are instilled in the family and at school. In some cases, the norms can be regulated and put in writing. In others, they are known by the population without the need to be settled because they are transmitted from generation to generation.
The legal rules establish duties and rights that seek to govern the behavior of the members of society. Their main characteristic is to be enforceable. That is, sanctions are applied in case of non-compliance. Some types of legal norms are laws and decrees.
These rules are regulated and formulated by the authority of each territory, which can be the legislative or executive body. They must be complied with by all citizens of a given place. The legal norms must apply to all individuals equally. They are usually in writing and must be known by all.
Examples of legal norms
- Child labor is prohibited.
- All people have the right to an identity.
- It is forbidden to have sexual relations with minors.
- All citizens can stand for election.
- Theft or robbery is prohibited.
- All people have the right to a fair trial.
- Traffic rules and signs must be respected.
- Driving a car under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.
- Trespassing or trespassing on private property is a crime.
- Extortion is a crime.
Social norms regulate people’s behavior based on what has been agreed to be the most positive to guarantee harmony within a group or society. Unlike legal norms, social norms are not sanctionable, although their non-compliance can cause social rejection.
These rules vary according to different customs and territories. Each culture has its own social norms, although some universal ones exist. Social norms are related to values such as respect, responsibility, and tolerance and are transmitted from generation to generation.
Examples of social norms
- Wait your turn in a queue.
- Take care of the environment.
- Don’t make annoying noises.
- Have good table manners.
- Not saying bad words.
- Respect the opinions of others.
- Wait your turn to speak.
- Say hello when you arrive at a place.
- Arrive on time for appointments or meetings.
- Have the courtesy to address the third party.
Moral standards are norms that derive from ethics and morality and refer to behaviors considered good or expected. Thus, moral norms are related to values such as respect, honesty, and justice and discourage all those behaviors that threaten the harmony and social peace.
They are norms not put in writing or regulated by the State or another organization but are transmitted from generation to generation and are known by all citizens. Some moral norms are the basis of social and legal norms.
Examples of moral standards
- Do not take advantage of another person’s physical weakness.
- Respect the decisions of justice.
- Commit to issues that are of public interest.
- Be honest in handling money.
- Comply responsibly with the commitments assumed.
- Pay your taxes.
- Be honest with the word, do not lie.
- Respect differences with others.
- Help the people who need it most.
- Respect the laws.
The religious norms are those arranged by a particular religion or belief and must be fulfilled by all parishioners. Its main objective is to regulate some practices and behaviors of believers or followers of a religion.
These rules are usually written in religious codes or books. They vary according to each religion and must be known by all believers. Religious norms are related to what a religion establishes as morally correct and encompass individual and social aspects of a person.
Examples of religious norms
- Fast and abstinence on Good Friday (Catholicism).
- Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life (Islamism).
- Do not eat pork (Judaism and Islam).
- Do not commit usury (Islamism).
- Give alms to the needy (in all religions).
- Be baptized (Catholicism).
- Circumcise male children (Judaism).
- Go to mass on Sundays (Catholicism).
- Respect the Sabbath (Judaism).
- Honor God above all things (Catholicism).