What would life be without social norms?

1 Answer
Mar 3, 2017

Can we imagine something to which we have no concept? It may be more of a philosophical question than a psychological one.


OK, we can try… but understand that ALL of us are already part of our “social norming” process – AND not all “social norms” are the same norms worldwide! We can speculate on the possible effects of removing the social norms, but only in the context of a general removal of a particular restraint or guide for action in a social milieu.

To do that, we must first look at what we think are the results of social norming, and then at the mechanism. Will removal of that mechanism change the results? Or, are there other possible influences or controls on the social activity?

From a statistical interpretation of a “normal” distribution it is even more problematic, in that the question is really suggesting a change in social norms instead of an elimination. That is because no matter what the condition of societal activity is, by definition the majority outcome is the NORM!

This is not just rhetorical, because as I already mentioned, “social norms” are NOT “universal norms”, even on our single planet! If my “norm” is different from yours, does that mean my society does not have a social norm? This brings us back to my original question – can we really even conceive of a life without “social norms”, or are we just changing what those norms would be?

As a developer of social activity we can say that no matter what a society’s norm is, it’s purpose is to perpetuate the benefit of the society to its members.

Therefore, we can speculate that IF a condition could exist without social norms, AND there are no other guidance factors in individual development, society would be anarchic, with consequences of much slower intellectual and community development. It would be a much more primitive and animalistic existence.