Norms vs Values
Obedience to our elders is considered to be a good value and also a norm in our society. Students showing respect to their teachers is similarly both a value as well as a norm in all societies and cultures. It becomes confusing for many to differentiate between norms and values in a society because of their obvious similarities. Norms are mostly social behaviors that people in a society are expected to follow. Values, on the other hand, are our beliefs about what is good, right, or wrong. There are many more differences between norms and values that will be highlighted in this article.
What are Norms?
Socially acceptable ways of behavior are called norms. They are a way to induce uniformity and keep in check deviant behavior. Society also devises a way to get rid of deviant behavior as people are punished when they are seen flouting norms of a society. However, norms are not to be confused with laws that are written and codified and those who break or violate laws are punished by courts of laws. As such, norms are unwritten code of conduct that is desirable and those members of the society who flout these norms are looked down upon and derided by the society.
In early times, when norms were not devised as a way, to make people comply with a code of conduct, societies had to depend upon taboo behaviors. This was done to prevent people from engaging in undesirable behaviors. With the development of norms, it became possible to enforce social order in an informal manner.
If you are attending a funeral, you are not expected to start laughing uncontrollably or take out a cigarette and start smoking. Similarly, shaking hands with your competitor after the completion of a tennis match is a social norm that has to be done whether you have won or lost. As a foreigner, it is better for a person to learn more about social norms in a country to behave in a socially acceptable behavior and also dress up accordingly.
What are Values?
It is difficult to live in isolation, and when living in a society, it is essential to have a belief system to deal with other people and situations in one’s life. Orientation in a society becomes much easy with values that are developed over a period of time in the mind of individuals in a society about right and wrong, just and fair, good and bad.
Most of the values are learnt from elders, parents, teachers and religious books though there are also personal beliefs. Beliefs are mostly cultural and religious in nature. Some of the values that are found universally across cultures are compassion, honesty, integrity, love, sex, friendship, and many more. Having a strong belief system enables people to steer through difficult situations in life because of the anchorage provided by these values.
What is the difference between Norms and Values?
• Values are sets of beliefs an individual has to guide his behavior while norms are codes of conduct set by a society.
• Norms are unwritten laws of a society and flouting them entails derision and boycott while, values are guiding principles that help individuals move ahead with confidence in difficult situations, in life.
• Norms play a role in building up of values in the mind of an individual.
• Norms are imposed from outside while values are a made inside the mind of an individual.
• Norms are specific guide to behavior while values provide indirect guidance only.