Survey of Sociology
H. M. Dorsey
The Influence of the Norm
It seems that every day we are encountered with things that we can do and cannot do. Not necessarily that we are always bound by the law, but even simple, legal things that we “should not” do. Even though most if these things are not formally announced, they are merely understood as acceptable means of behavior. We are conditioned and bound to these through the sociological influences that we encounter every day in our lives from the day that we are born. Even today, at age twenty-seven, I can remember when I was a little kid, possibly around five or six, maybe even earlier, my great-grandmother reminding me, in a loving grandmotherly way, that I am not a cow, and we do not chew with our mouths open. I remember that so plainly that nearly every time I eat, that pops into my thought. Ok, maybe not every time, but it pops into my conscious from time to time. This is what we would call an informal norm. An informal norm is a “social rule” if you will that is enforced socially. Breaking these rules will not bring the constable to knock on your door, but you may get sneers, looks, and other forms of scolding, and mocking from the people around you. We conform to these norms because we are social beings, meaning we socially interact with one another, and we feel the need to be accepted within our community.
One norm that I can think of that has become more common, and seems to be developing more within our social circles as time progresses, is that which takes issue with smoking in public. As few as fifteen to twenty years ago it was not uncommon to smoke in a place as public as a mall. Monroeville Mall used to have ashtrays placed throughout the main area of the mall so people could smoke as they wandered from store to store, as well as having smoking available in the food court. Today, you would never see that in a public place, even more and more...