How should a person behave in society

Norms and values: guidelines for society

Why is man not allowed to kill another?

The killing of a person is a grave crime in Christian societies based on a norm that goes back to the Bible.

In sociology, norms are situation-related rules of behavior. These are often based on the values ​​that apply in a society. The values ​​of a Christian society include B. the Ten Commandments. They serve as a guideline for most members of this society, which thus also forms the basis for the development of specific norms such as the homicide offense.

Why do we need norms and values?

A society functions to a large extent according to specific values ​​and norms. The person or his actions experience a certain regularity through them, so that he becomes predictable for others. An individual who does not accept the norms that apply in a group becomes an outsider whose behavior usually results in sanctions from the other group members.

Do standards always have to be followed?

There are norms that must be obeyed (laws), others that should be obeyed (example: not doing private things during work hours), and others that can be obeyed (example: not speaking out loud in church).

Norms are conveyed by groups or institutions (family, church, school). Important features are that they apply to all group members and that there must be an opportunity to violate them. In certain situations, norms can sometimes not be adhered to - a person who defends himself can e.g. B. unintentionally violate the norm not to hurt anyone.

What are sanctions for?

The task of sanctions is to get others to orientate themselves towards applicable norms. In the event of violations, they are aimed at those who violate the norm and have a negative character for them - that is, that of a punishment. Violates z. B. If someone in traffic violates an applicable speed limit, a norm, and the police stop him, he has to pay a fine (sanction).

Actions are also permitted as sanctions which, under other circumstances, would actually result in sanctions. An example: Locking someone up and thereby depriving them of their freedom actually violates the legally guaranteed freedom of movement. However, deprivation of liberty is accepted as a sanction if someone has committed a serious crime and the sanction is intended to induce them to comply with the applicable norms.

When do norms and values ​​change?

A major reason for a change in norms or values ​​are changes in society. If, for example, a social group gains greater influence, many applicable norms will gradually adapt to the norms of this group. If a group loses influence in society, some of its norms are also abandoned.

An example: Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code (StGB), which since 1871 in Germany initially punished homosexual acts between men in general and in its later version sexual acts between men over 18 and under 18 with imprisonment, was repealed in 1994, since it no longer seemed up to date in this form. Because meanwhile homosexual couples - at least with the majority of Germans - were socially recognized; the norm had outlived itself.

Do customs also have to be observed?

Not necessarily, because customs are not norms, just habits that are common in a group, society or culture and are generally recognized by members. In Germany, for example, there is the custom of shaking hands as a greeting, in other countries, on the other hand, people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. However, if local customs are very firmly established, negative reactions that have the character of a sanction can result. If you ignore it, you can easily be labeled an outsider.

Who sets standards?

Norms are usually set by the rulers.

According to Max Weber (1864–1920), one of the founders of German sociology, rule is the chance to get a group to obey at any time. One speaks of legitimate rule when the ruled accept the orders of the rulers and the exercise of coercion, in some cases even violence, in order to enforce the norms applicable in society (e.g. use of physical force to apprehend a felon) .

In contrast to rule, sociologists speak of power when someone can enforce his will against one or more people against their resistance. As a rule, rule also always includes power, but a person can also have or exercise power over another without ruling over them.

By the way: By authority one understands the social influence of certain persons or groups, which is attributed to them by others. Violence, on the other hand, is a means of enforcing rule and power. Physical and / or psychological coercion help enforce the applicable norms. In modern societies, the state has the monopoly of force: only it and its institutions such as the police are authorized, under certain conditions (e.g. violations of applicable law), to use force within the state's borders.

What do we understand by morality?

The term morality refers to the moral norms and values ​​that are recognized as binding in a society. In contrast to law, morality is not based on legislative acts, but is largely based on tradition. In contrast to ethics, which involves reflecting on moral values, these are not questioned by morality, but assumed to be valid.

Can you jostle at the supermarket checkout?

Today it is the norm in our society to queue at the end of a line at the checkout in the supermarket. Such norms should give human action a certain regularity and in this way make it comprehensible. So people can communicate with each other and act sensibly.

What is actually ...

a taboo? A prohibition based on religion or ritual. Saying the name of God or eating certain foods can be taboo. The word originally comes from Polynesia, where it also refers to an unconditional prohibition of certain actions.

a custom? Colloquially, custom means as much as custom. However, sociologists also use the word when they speak of norms that are based on "good" morals. B. the moral norms when someone urinates on the wall of a house.

Virtue? Originally, virtue meant the readiness for a moral disposition and moral action. However, what used to be considered virtuous (e.g. no sexual intercourse before marriage) is sometimes considered outmoded: Today, moral courage and courage are valued as positive virtues.