Norms are the product of culture, and include traditions, values and customs. Cultural norms are those patterns of behavior that are unique to a specific group. These behaviors are learned, from parents, peers, teachers, and any other individuals who shape the culture of an organization or society.
Cultural norms have a tendency to exert a form of social control, as they can be both formally and informally enforced. When an individual conforms to the accepted norms of a culture, he or she is accepted, and generally derives a certain level of psychological benefit. Most cultural norms are so deeply ingrained within the individual, the result of socialization from birth, that the individual may not even be aware of such behaviors.
Every society has its own cultural norms. They are established and transmitted by the various systems that exist, from the government to the family. All institutions within a society work, often unconsciously, to set cultural norms and see that individuals conform. Some societies, especially those governed by autocratic systems, rigidly enforce cultural norms. Other societies can be defined as culturally loose, and tolerate a fair amount of deviance from the accepted norm. Often, one society will appear dysfunctional from the other perspective. In other words, a society with loose cultural norms will disdain a society with tighter cultural norms.
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