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Norms and values make up ideology which governs and guides behavior.

""Only in the rarest of circumstances, I would argue, do humans simply act on bodily impulse - there is almost always some kind of discrimination arising in a history of social interaction, although that discrimination could quite easily have become unconscious. This discrimination inevitably implicates norms and values. So what are they and how do they arise?"" (Stacey, 2007, pp 345)

Norms are:

  • evaluative in that they provide criteria for judging desires and actions;
  • obligatory and constraining. They therefore restrict opportunities for action. We experience them as compelling in a restrictive sense;
  • intimately connected with morals in that they provide criteria for what ought to be done, what is right

Norms, then, provide a basis for evaluating and choosing between desires and actions. Elias ([1939] 2000) was particularly concerned with how norms emerge and evolve as people in a society become more and more interdependent and as the use of violence is monopolised by the state. He explained how desires are taken more and more behind the scenes of daily life as more detailed norms emerge about what can and cannot be done in public. These norms become part of individual personality structures and adherence to such norms is sustained by the social process of shame. Norms, therefore, are constraints arising in social evolution that act to restrain the actions and even desires of interdependent individuals, so much so that the constraints become thematic patterns of individual identities. See identity. In complex responsive process terms, norms are themes organising experience in a constraining way. However, norms are inseparable although different from values. See values. (Stacey, 2007, pp 345)