Examples of norms that prohibit costly behavior and emerge informally?
April 21, 2015 5:43 AM   Subscribe

hivemind!!!! Does anyone know of any cases where a norm informally or organically arises that prohibits a behavior that is costly to others (i.e., has negative externalities) or demands that individuals do something to reduce costs for others? Examples that come to mind are norms against smoking and norms demanding that people cover their mouths when they sneeze. It would be especially great if anyone also knew of some literature about the emergence of the norm, especially in the form of academic articles, though stuff from newspapers, magazines, etc. would be rad too. Thanks!
posted by mrmanvir to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Handwashing
Keeping dogs leashed, picking up after them
Very informal "quiet hours" in apartment buildings
Offering seats to people who need them on buses/etc.
Using BCC to keep email addresses private
Knocking
Leaving packages alone (I'm not sure if this really counts as a "norm" but I think people respect mail slightly more than they would the possessions inside, for non-legal reasons)
Not talking in libraries
Within specific individual communities there may be better examples of how the norms arise--e.g., how swimming lane etiquette works
posted by cogitron at 7:25 AM on April 21, 2015


You may be interested in Elinor Ostrom's academic work - unfortunately I don't remember specific examples.
posted by ripley_ at 7:38 AM on April 21, 2015


I bet you'd be interested in the social norms that stage magicians use to protect the secrets of their tricks, in lieu of patenting and other formal (legal) intellectual property rights mechanisms. Summary blog post / actual paper on the subject
posted by Alioth at 7:38 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


So you're looking for informal norms that reduce financial costs for others?

One example is that small businesses provide free coffee for the employees. Reduces an expense for the employees, at a small cost (or even a benefit) to the business.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2015


queueing. I almost never see any signs requiring queueing, but anytime I see more than a few people waiting at a counter, they seem to spontaneously queue up. Queueing helps a lot of people, sure, but even people who suffer because of it (that is, tall aggressive people) still fall into line once a queue starts forming.
posted by Mogur at 9:01 AM on April 21, 2015


Diligent attention to the safety of people with nut allergies, kind of. There was an article about this in Pacific Standard recently.
posted by lakeroon at 4:51 PM on April 21, 2015


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