Variable: Informal Norms

Informal norms are the unwritten, and sometimes unspoken, rules that govern human behaviour. Informal norms are delivered to children as they are socialized; as we age, we continue to acquire expertise regarding structure and function of our social interactions. We are often unaware of informal norms until they have been violated.

Informal norms are administered through community or social group disapproval: deviating from the norm is noticed by sanctions are slight. Speaking too loud in a museum or too soft at a football game are examples, as are norms for behaviour in campgrounds, along trails, or on fishing boats. The full range of etiquettes for eating, socializing, courtship, and so forth are also informal norms.

Sometimes, a community's informal norms may conflict with its formal (legal) norms. The results are "folk crimes" i.e. activities that are against the law but not considered harmful by the population. Some kinds of wildlife poaching or illegal wood cutting are folk crimes. (Scialfa, 1992).




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