Our latest UK C4D Focus Session discussed the topic of Social Norms (Wednesday 28th November 2016). Members brought their experience of working with social norms from around the world, as well as reflecting on social norms closer to home. From violence against children, to smoking, to female genital cutting. The smoking ban in the UK, for example, was discussed as a demonstration of legislation prompting a shift in a social norm – towards smoking being increasingly negatively sanctioned by peoples’ disapproval, while being positively sanctioned among those adolescents who want to rebel or belong to a ‘cool’/transgressive group. The pressures of social media were explored in this context.
Key questions arising from the group were: how can social norms be measured? Is there a figure – a tipping point, or a percentage of a population practicing a behaviour – for when a social norm has been abandoned? Can we establish a hierarchy of social norms, to distinguish those which are hardest to shift from those which are easier?
Further reading, shared by the group:
- Manual on Social Norms and Change – from UNFPA and UNICEF (as mentioned in the presentation) – includes presentations, facilitator guides, etc.
- Changing culturaland social norms thatsupport violence – a series of briefings from WHO
- Social norms theory and practice: resources from STRIVE workshop
- Social norms – reading pack – from Lori Heise (as recommended) and Karima Manji
- Managing social norms for persuasive impact – a paper by Roberto Cialdini (as recommended) and others
- Social Norms – a Philosophy Encyclopedia entry – by Christina Bicceiri (as recommended – though complex!) and Ryan Muldoon
- 2015 World Development Report – from the World Bank – there’s a fair amount on social norms in Chapter 2 (around p.53)
- How Does Media Influence Social Norms? A Field Experiment on the Role of Common Knowledge – a paper by Eric Arias