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Thursday, 23 October 2014

What do you mean by social norms and Discuss by giving examples from Indian and Pakistani society the two kinds of social norms

Definitions of Social Norms :

1. C.H. Persell :
     "Norms refer to shared rules about acceptable and unacceptable social behaviour."
2. R.T. Schaefer :
     "Norms are established standards of behaviour maintained by.society."
3. Augburn and Nimkaff :
     "Social norms are those guiding principles of human character which the individuals use for getting their aims."
4. John F. Cuber :
     "Social norms are that expected characters of individuals which they perform on specific social occasions."
5. Paul Self :
     "Social norms are these standards or principles which control human character on social occasion in which they take part."

Importance and Functions of Social Norms

Robert K. Merton :
     "Social norms determine the ways for the attainment of goals of individuals of a society by following these to reach their destination."
     This opinion shows the importance of norms in the social life and their functions in making the society stable.
     The detail of these functions is given below:
1. Social norms control behaviours of the individuals at different social occasions producing uniformity and harmony just as people walk silently in funeral procession or recite Kalma Shahadat and exchange shouldering of the funeral cot, which is an expected behaviour. If anybody deviates this, the people prohibit that individual form laughing etc. and show anger and hatred for such an individual because his action disrupts the uniformity and harmony of behaviour.
2. Social norms play an important part in preventing incidents of deviation from normal standards of society and it remains safe from disintegration and lawlessness. The respect of elders and women is the part of civility of Indian and Pakistani society. If a few people do something wrong with women in their behaviour, the other people of society reacting against their untoward behaviour prevent them form doing so because such incidents amount to quarrels and fights creating indiscipline in a society.
3. Social norms serve ,as touch stone for right and wrong standards of  behaviour and rectification is made. If someone abuses for nothing or habitually or smokes before elders or misbehaves with teachers, then he is disliked and his behaviour is condemned and he is admonished to behave like society norms.
4. Social norms provide a security to cultural values, traditions, customs and  beliefs which maintain culture and transmit it to next generation. Respect and service of parents is a social value in Pakistani society and to marry, with the consent our social tradition. Regard for the month of Ramadan and paying Zakat are religious beliefs. Society does not like that old parents should wander shelter-less and children should live lavishly or a girl should marry without parents' consent as a court marriage or should marry secretly or should eat openly in the month of Ramadan. Society takes a serious notice of such people. All good traditions are transmitted to the next generation by collective society efforts through advice, stories, marriage functions and festivals etc. to make these norms to continue.
5. Social norms play an important part in keeping the structure of social institutions and these are able to keep their functions correct. Individuals do not find any difficulty in the completion of the needs of the society and through social sanctions they create an environment of fear and hope to keep their behaviotirs according to social expectations. In Pakistani society, family is a strong institution to keep it structure because social norms have a strong stress over the relations of wife and husband. Separation or divorce is disliked. Even in very straitened circumstances, a woman is required to keep the entity of family. Parents are expected to bring up children better and children are expected to be obedient to parents which are a conscious effort of keeping the family structure through norms. If social norms system becomes weak, as in the case of Western societies, divorce rate will increase, children will deviate from norms, old parents will wander shelterless with no fear of rejection or hope of reward or applaud and an atmosphere of peacelessness will prevail.

Types of Norms

         There are two types of norms :

l. Informal Norms
2. Formal Norms
Informal norms are divided into two kinds in view of their importance in the society :
i. Folk ways
ii. Mores
The formal norms mean the different laws of the society. The importance of their kinds is given in detail here:

1. Informal Norms

i. Folk ways :
These are the customs and ways which are part of a society and which we adopt for our daily convenience make our image better in the society and increase our acceptance in the society. Folk ways may be in different mores on the same social occasion and some of these may be liked ones or disliked also. In case of disliking, the reactions are not serious. It is rather a source of fun. This term of Folk way was first used by W.G. Summer and defined as:

“Folk ways are accepted behaviours of society which come into existence through mutual interaction and are transmitted automatically from one generation to the next generation.” ’

R.T. Schaefer has defined it as: “Folk ways are norms governing everyday behaviour where violation raises comparatively little concern.”

Importance of Folk Ways

1. Social Solidarity :
Folk ways are a simple manners of social interaction with the help of which individuals find the social interaction because they provide a uniform and expected behaviour way which keeps the society safe from some undesired, disliked and negative behaviour with no fear of disintegration. We say Namastay or Salam to everybody in our Indian Pakistani society when we meet others and in answer to it. We expect the same which is a-Folk way. There is no hope of some abuse or bad tongue like negative behaviour which should become a cause of some quarrel or fight. In this way, Folk: ways give rise to brotherhood, love and stability to the society is promoted.

2. Preservation of Values :
Folk ways unconsciously help in preserving the traditions and values of a society and the cultural heredity is secured. Respecting neighbours, serving travelers, loving children and accepting invitation in the celebrations are basic values of our society and we are bound to act upon them which give not only peace and joy to us but also cultural atmosphere remains pleasant.

3. Group Cohesiveness :
Folk ways are popular and favorite behaviours of group life and any deviation of them is somewhat disliked. Therefore, individuals of society continue these customary Folk ways to avoid from being a source of fun or from getting less respect of the society. In Pakistani society, washing hands before eating food, cleaning of teeth, hair dressing are Folk ways. Any deviation or going against these Folk ways may become a cause of ridicule of others which decreases the group attachment may become less which makes an individual temperamentally imbalanced and his personality suffers with a loss of group entity.

4. Obedience of Customs :
Customs and traditions are backbone of a-.,,culture of a society because these preserve the social style of life and culture. showing joy on the birth of a child or distributing sweets, showing grief on the death and cooperating attitude, arranging for food supply as financial help is a customs. To give salami (some money) on the occasion of proposals or marriage are also custom. Folk ways persuade towards these customs to be performed because they promote a sense of cooperation and sympathy, decrease sense of loneliness and transfer them to next generation. Folk ways are a source of respect and regard for customs.

5. Acquisition of Needs :
Folk ways are guiding principles or way of action which provide guidance for the attainment of basic needs to an individual, living in a society. These keep the behaviours under control and promote mutual respect. If you feel hunger, for example, you go to home, wait with patience for the food being prepared and then all join eating food. This is a Folk way. It is not proper to pick a thing from anywhere to eat. In case you feel thirst, you ask permission to drink water, from a person having a cooler or a pitcher of water and after drinking water gratitude will be shown for that act of kindness. This is 3. Folk way but going against this, will
be an abnormal behaviour. Folk ways create a sort of uniformity in behaviours giving stability and strength to a culture.

Thousands of Folk ways are a part of culture of Indian Pakistani society just like those of other societies. These come into existence and go extinct with the passage of time because the changes in society affect them but some people think them an integral part of social behaviour and keep these durable just like, smiling at shaking hands, sitting respectfully before elders and dressing beautiful clothes on Dewali,Holi and Eid festivals etc.


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