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    Sociology: The Concept of Norms

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    The sociological concept of norms is extremely crucial to the arguments made by the author. Since norms refer to cultural expectations that control behavior, in the case presented by the author, the norms that they are referencing are more specifically gender norms, related to competition. Competitiveness is viewed as a trait more desirable and representative for males, rather than females. While males are encouraged from a young age to engage in competitive, behavior, females are not, and are instead steered away from acting in a way that is considered unfeminine. Since females are taught this from a young age, as they grow up they start subconsciously shaping their identities around this norm, so later in life girls automatically mask their competitive/aggressive behavior, since they were socialized to do so.

    Females that do desire to act competitively are then viewed as abrasive, since it violates the gender norm to act femininely. The authors then use this concept to help make their arguments, looking at the social sanctions faced by both genders as a result of their competitiveness, which then played an important role in their personal growth and adjustment. However, since this norm has to do with gender, the authors made it clear to argue that these social sanctions would be worse for females than they are for males. This is the gender norm that the authors use as a foundation, in order to research the effects of breaking it.

    Furthermore, the effects of breaking a norm, (sanctions), are explored in the experiment, in the form of social consequences faced by both genders, but mainly females. The concept of social sanctions is very helpful in making the author’s arguments as well. Even though they are focusing on gender norms in general, in order to research this, they need to view it from the side of breaking this norm. The sanctions faced by both genders were split up into two categories: social and emotional. Socially, they focused on the number of best friends an adolescent had, the closeness that they experienced with their friends, fights they had, and loneliness.

    Emotionally, they looked at depressive symptoms and self-esteem issues. These are the unfortunate consequences that females had mainly faced, since they were the gender that was breaking a social norm. When the male adolescents expressed competitive tendencies, it wasn’t viewed as an issue, or as something to be kept in check socially, which would lead to less issues when it comes to friendships, as well as less signs of depressive symptoms, since there was no backlash for their actions that would affect them emotionally. Competing to win is viewed as a non-normative for females, so the authors arguments were strengthened since it was the fact that it was a gendered social norm that made the negative effects apparent.

    Lastly, the concept of norms relates to another important sociological idea brought up in the article, which is identity. The authors argued how a stronger sense of personal identity would be apparent if gendered traits aligned more closely with the gender they are associated with. So in this case, if males faced positive sanctions for acting competitively, they had a more clear sense of their identity, since they did not face any negative consequences for acting the way that they were taught to act. However, the females would obviously not have this same strong sense of identity, since the gendered trait of competitiveness is more aligned with males. When they faced the social sanctions, this led to more feelings of confusion when it came to creating and manifesting their own identities.

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    Sociology: The Concept of Norms. (2021, Aug 26). Retrieved from

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