What are ‘Norms?’
What are ‘Values?’
Norms - established standards of behaviour maintained by
society
Values – what Emile ...
Norms and Values
Class Question: Where do you think these norms and
values come from?
In addition, might they in fact not ...
Norms and Values
Once established, how are these norms maintained? As new
generations are born and raised, how do they bec...
The UN Declaration of Human
Rights
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a1
Class question: Across the world, di...
‘Euro centrism’
Students of Sociology should take care not to assume
that Western cultural norms and values are by default...
Norms and Values
….does this mean that:
Genital mutilation
Correctional rape
Honour killings
The normalisation of domestic...
Norms and Values
…and our own statistics are not that impressive…
Forty years after the Equal Pay Act, women are paid on a...
‘Moral Relativism’
You might have identified some of the problems below:
Questions:
If we regard other cultures as entitle...
‘Moral Relativism’
1. What might it suggest about our attitudes to developing world
cultures if we unwittingly assume that...
So…
Last question:
Should we regard some rights as being universal,
irrespective of culture?
If so, how can we support tho...
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  1. 1. What are ‘Norms?’ What are ‘Values?’ Norms - established standards of behaviour maintained by society Values – what Emile Durkheim calls the ‘collective conscience.’ To maintain cohesive societies, norms and values ought to be generally shared by the majority of the populace. In this way, even in a society of strangers, we can feel secure as to the behaviours and motives of others, thereby bedding down ‘social solidarity.’
  2. 2. Norms and Values Class Question: Where do you think these norms and values come from? In addition, might they in fact not be static or frozen, but change over time?
  3. 3. Norms and Values Once established, how are these norms maintained? As new generations are born and raised, how do they become familiar (‘internalise’) the expectations related to behaviour and beliefs? Such questions are crucial, as they contribute to our criminological understanding of ‘social order.’ Crucially, might it be the case that these norms reflect not simply the interests of us all, but the interests of specific (and dominant) social groups?
  4. 4. The UN Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a1 Class question: Across the world, different cultures maintain different norms and values. Some of the beliefs and behaviours of, say a Ghanaian citizen may not appear to closely resemble those of a US citizen. However, should there be such a thing as a universal human right? Irrespective of culture, should we demand that all individuals be entitled to have the same basic rights?
  5. 5. ‘Euro centrism’ Students of Sociology should take care not to assume that Western cultural norms and values are by default superior to any other cultures. When considering the diversity of the world’s peoples, it is important that we do not reflexively refer to Western norms and values as the template to which we compare all others. But….!
  6. 6. Norms and Values ….does this mean that: Genital mutilation Correctional rape Honour killings The normalisation of domestic violence Forced marriages …should be regarded as behaviours we ought to look on as reflecting norms it would be arrogant (and Euro centric) of us to condemn? After all, such patterns of behaviour are common in many parts of the world.
  7. 7. Norms and Values …and our own statistics are not that impressive… Forty years after the Equal Pay Act, women are paid on average 22.6% less per hour than men, and 30,000 of them are sacked every year simply for being pregnant . Women make up only 12% of FTSE 100 directors, and remain in the minority in parliament and the professions. In the workplace they continue to be victims of sexual harassment; at home they are likely to be victims of violence (one in four at he hands of a partner or former partner). We live on a planet where women perform 66% of the world’s work and produce 50% of its food but earn 10% of overall income and own 1% of property. Violence against women causes more deaths and disabilities among the female population (aged 15 – 44) than cancer, road accidents, malaria and war combined.
  8. 8. ‘Moral Relativism’ You might have identified some of the problems below: Questions: If we regard other cultures as entitled to practice whatever norms they perceive as appropriate: • 1.We assume that, while our culture experiences fluidity and change, and shift as time goes by, others don’t. If they currently practice genital mutilation, inevitably they always will. What is wrong with this thinking? Well, we end up not extending the same recognition of fluidity and change to other cultures which we assume of our own – reverse racism? • 2. In whose interests do norms and values operate? Should we assume that cultural norms and values are always a simple expression of the desires and ambitions of the whole population? For instance, in cultures where domestic violence is normalised, in whose interests is that the case? • 3. What do we say to those local women and young girls campaigning in parts of South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, or Afghanistan where honour killings, correctional rape or genital mutilation are to a greater or lesser extent embedded as cultural norms? • What do we say to gay rights campaigners in Iran? ‘Sorry, but it’s your culture, submit to it.’
  9. 9. ‘Moral Relativism’ 1. What might it suggest about our attitudes to developing world cultures if we unwittingly assume that people living there are all the same? 1. 2. In cultures where inequalities are wide (the UK, USA) in whose interests is it understood that such disparities in incomes are natural? In nations where the penalties for homosexuality are draconian and brutal, in whose interests are those formal norms in place? 2. 3. Are we in danger of turning away from those people involved in liberation struggles in countries with deep seated problems with homophobia, sexism or any other type of repression? ‘You just have to accept things, it’s your culture?’
  10. 10. So… Last question: Should we regard some rights as being universal, irrespective of culture? If so, how can we support those involved in fighting for the kind of rights we may take for granted?

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