Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Norms (from Latin norma , a square, used by carpenters, masons, and other artificers to make their work rectangular) are either statistical or ideal. In the statistical sense, the norm is the average. In the ideal sense, however, a norm prescribes or expresses an ideal pattern or standard of behavior in a given social group or social context to which conformity is expected. Confusion between these two kinds of norms should be avoided. Under certain circumstances, it may be normal in the statistical sense to transgress norms of an ideal nature. Cultural and social anthropology are mainly interested in ideal norms. Norms as standards of behavior are an essential part of any culture. They provide a system of order and orientation. Nevertheless, they are subject to transformations and may differ from culture to culture. Moreover, societies develop not only several types of norms (such as folkways, mores, and laws), but ...