Chapter 13

Getting into Line: Conformity and Social Norms

In This Chapter

arrow Considering the role of social norms

arrow Looking at ways in which people conform

arrow Paying the price of not conforming

Your life is governed by rules. You are probably well aware of many of them. If, for example, you learnt to drive then you had to memorise the Highway Code and all the rules about speed limits, the correct procedure for roundabouts and when to check your mirrors and indicate. But there is a much more detailed set of rules about how to live your life outside of the car: how to queue in shops, what to say to a waiter, how close you should stand to strangers and to friends. The trouble is, there is no Highway Code for Life. All of these customs, conventions and points of etiquette are called social norms. Though you may not be aware of them, you have spent much of your life learning them.

Do you nod your head when you agree with someone? Do you always make sure that you belch loudly after a meal? Would you blow your nose in front of another person? These questions may seem easy to answer, but if you ask other people from around the world you may well get the opposite answer: Greeks shake their heads ...

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