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Confirming the Norms of the Society

Confirming the Norms of the Society

By Ayushi Gupta

Norms are the purview defined through law. But the question that pops upright is that, how confined is that purview? Moreover, are these norms discrete for everyone? If discrete, then why call it norm? Customs are the outcome of practices followed by the communities in ancient times. These customs ruled out to be the substratum of norm set by the society in order to maintain social order. Social order[1] was essential to the living. Due to the diverse cultures, communities, languages, societies it was necessary to have a common understanding of survival. Therefore, it was the origin of common law. These laws were a mixture of the customs of various clans to have a social interaction. To save the world from agony of wars, it seemed necessary to regulate laws. These laws turned out to be the norms of the society.

The lines drawn by the society,

Outrageous if crossed slightly.

                                             Who are these people who set the limits?

Not for them is it?

                                                       Lawlessness was dangerous,

So, built a system to sustain us.

                                                             Peace was the motive,

And War is the result.

                                                            Freedom was achieved,

Though, lines drawn still subsist.

                                                                   We call it “Norm”

 But “coercion” is the theme.


It was vital to organize the behaviour of individual or group of people for social control. The deviance from the norm was a sign of hoax for the society and punishments were sanctioned for it. Since, long back this process is in loop though the intensity of norms has turned into coercion by the government. Social order is a requisite for social contract[2] which is between the people and the government. In order to attain security of life , some rights have to be taken away from the individuals though these won’t include the inherent rights and fundamental rights. The government is given the power to set these norms in consonance with the societal perspective and are also given authority to punish those who contravene it. Nowadays, the government who has been given the power by the society to regulate social order is using it in ways unknown to us.

Under the umbrella of  “what ought to be” we are diminishing our eyesight to the facts of “what it is.” The norm must be established in order for good governance and not with the motive to rule. The societal norms must be based on the situation at hand and not what the situation will be later on. Moreover, the connotation of norm does not include coercion. There is no point of intersection between norms set by society and coercion. The difference is in the very meaning of the terms, norm though enforced is with the consent whereas, coercion is force and has no expressed consent. Imposing a rule results to coercion.

Demonetization is an example of coercion. Even if we are against it we are bound to follow it. In contrast, Norms are open to scrutiny. There are instances where women are not treated at par with men in certain communities and are not recognized as pillars of strength for their families. This is a taboo that over the years was suppose to eradicate such discrimination. As of today, the norm is equality. So be it men or women they ought to be treated equally. But are they? Does these norms only work in urban areas and not rural villages? What we call norm is the social order. Norm is law. Norm is neither taboo nor coercion.

When we discuss about Uniform civil code, we debate on the issue of consolidating all religions into a uniform code putting forward a norm to practice religion in the way one’s seeks. Is that the social order we tend to achieve? Norms is set forth to maintain the peace in the society and not to diminish the individuality of the communities. Even with the existing norms in the society, we see imbalance then why not reduce the norms to see how it balance? Society without norm will be jungle but society with norm won’t be independent either. Hence, what must be the mid way? Social contract is the mid way until and unless the power of authority is divided amongst government and the people. The authority must not be one sided but the respect to follow the norms must be mutual from both the sides.

Norms set by the society must also not be biased to some. It should not be pedagogy relevant to few sections of society. The intend must be to bring everyone on the same pedestal and have the common understanding towards law and the functioning of it. The people should not be threatened to follow them but are willingly interested in following them. It must not be a mere obligation but an essence of fulfillment. The ones who condemn or go against the norms of the society must be punished in order to avoid the state of crime and terror. Crimes must not be encouraged even in its tiniest form. Norms are a part of the society we live in and we should adhere by it to live by it.

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ”Social Norms,” Mar 1, 2011; substantive revision Mon Sep 24, 2018.

[2] Thought Co., “  What is Social Order in Sicology?”.

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