When you walk into the library, does anyone have to tell you to be quiet and courteous of others? No, you automatically behave in this way. Why? You have been "programed" to obey a "norm."

   Norms are “written or unwritten rules that specify behaviors appropriate and inappropriate to a particular social situation” (Sociology a Global Perspective, Joan Ferrante).

   Examples of written rules include restaurant signs (No Smoking Section), college handbook guidelines (appropriate dress for students), and government laws (on how to run a business).

   While unwritten rules exist throughout life – washing your hands before eating or cooking, not holding hands with the same sex in public, and leaving a good tip of at least 20 percent for waiters – norms are basically all those small rules that we learn through life and automatically conform to.
What norms would be acceptable in another country but totesawk if enacted in America and vice versa?


10/02/2013 9:13pm

After reading this I realize there are a lot of social norms i don't abide by. haha

10/03/2013 10:56am

To indicate YES, we Americans NOD our heads up and down, but Albanians SHAKE their heads from side to side. A few years ago, when my husband and I were visiting our daughter in Albania, a street vendor came up to me and offered to sell me his sweets. Not knowing the language, I shook my head and smiled, meaning, "No, thank you." He kept pushing his goods toward me, and I kept backing away, still smiling but shaking my head even more vigorously. I could not understand why he kept pressing me! Finally, I turned around and walked away briskly. Later I discovered that he thought I was saying I wanted his goods so was puzzled when I turned away from him! Totesawk!

10/05/2013 10:10am

Actually, holding hands with the same sex in public is a practice in both Haiti and Africa. Though I would feel completely uncomfortable doing it here in the US, I think it's one of the sweetest things in this world. It's like telling everyone who sees us, "This is my friend and I love her!"

10/06/2013 9:21am

One of the norms in Albanian culture is to choose to sit right next to a stranger instead of to keep some personal space. For example, in the States, when we walk into a coffee shop, movie theater, or get on a bus, we will typically sit a few seats away from people (if there is not assigned seating and if the room or bus has lots of space). However, in Albania, it is perfectly normal to be sitting in an empty movie theater or bus and for a stranger to walk in and sit RIGHT NEXT TO YOU instead of a couple aisles away. Why? Because why would you want personal space when it is so much more enjoyable to sit right next to someone?! :) It is one of the "norms" in Albania that used to feel peculiar but now I really like! You are never alone for very long here (whether you like it or not! haha)!

10/07/2013 8:30pm

I complimented someone at the table on the meal we had just eaten by saying, "thanks. That was grat! I'm stuffed!" I promptly received a kick under the table from my companion who was British. We were in London, and being "stuffed" was slang for pregnant!


Leave a Reply.