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Social norms, communication and behavioural and social change

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silvio waisbord

on 6 December 2012

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Transcript of Social norms, communication and behavioural and social change

Social norms, communication
and behavioural/social change No consensus about what norms are and how they emerge and change.

Confusion about definitions – customs, values, morals, institutions, and roles used as synonymous of norms.

Norms are “rules that are socially enforced”.

Social sanction is a key dimensions of norms. what are Social Norms Norms regulate behaviors –
from the important to the trivial.

classroom participation not all norms are equal Norms as moral imperative – what ought to be done.
Norms as behavior regulations – general social expectations. Norm enforcement

Where? family, work, neighborhood
Who? parents, partners, relatives, children?
How? verbal/non verbal actions What happens when norms aren't followed? 1/Consequential approach – impact of norms.
Respond to problematic actions (e.g. anti-smoking)
yet sometimes they are disconnected from “perceived” dangers (e.g. fashion) or encourage “negative” behaviors (e.g. risky sexual practices). Behaviors with large impact more likely to become a matter of public debate and/or strongly regulated.

Crimes – murder and petty robbery
Drinking – driving and social 2/ Appropriateness – what is defined and perceived as right.

The meaning of norms is what matters.
Norms developed through interaction and negotiation.
Norms are ways of living in the world - "systems of meaning"
Need to understand what role norms have. why people observe them. 3/ Typicality approach – conform with the majority. Yet people follow/obey norms although there’s no obvious incentive, punishment, or individual commitment.
Habits die hard.
Automatic compliance or conscious decisions? Children and norms More likely to conform to norms than adults.
Age and normative references mediated by social/cultural context.
Peer and sibling support
Smoking initiation, continuation and cessation.
Alcohol use.
Diet behavior.
Food preferences. Not only children as “subjects” of better health and social conditions, but as active agents of norm change.
Evidence shows children want to attend school, read due to perceived norms and peer pressure but also …
anecdotic evidence about children as enforcers of “old” norm (e.g. female genital cutting). three cases Role of social networks in health.
Social support
Social influence
Social engagement
Person-to-person contacts
Access to resources Where do ideas for programming come from?

Consider case of "seat belt" programs
Children police/shame and motivate adults.
Reminders about traffic safety. Children as norm enforcers
and reminders CASE I Hand-washing project in Peru

Absence of strong structural obstacles to safe water yet poor hand-washing behavior.
Weak social norm.
Evidence suggests children remind parents about proper hand-washing. CASE II TB active detection project in Mexico

TB services in place yet low demand.
Community-focused health program.
Work with schoolchildren.
Identify potential cases, encourage early testing, report persistent cough at home to school.
Evidence about children’s positive roles – educate, encourage relatives to get tested. Case III CLTS
Role of children in participatory action research
transect walks and mapping - situation analysis
shaming behaviors and people - "flagging" What can we learn from these experiences?
Lessons for C4D Strategies for reinforcing and
changing social norms 3. Multiple approaches to norm change
Government – promote and penalize behaviors through laws, subsidies, taxes, etc.
Market – provide economic incentives to modify behaviors and expectations.
Communication – knowledge, diffusion, and internalization of norms. Role of children as part of “choice architecture” 4. what can children do
to foster certain norm
choices? Cue behaviors/norms – make norms salient.
Salience increases chance of norm retrievability.
Manipulation of norms through priming attention and values.
Activating “dormant” norms easier than changing norms.
Identify alternative norms that can be made visible by children. why would adults listen to children?

Norm enforcement
Informal sanctioning – reaction from others.

Cost and benefits 2. Are lessons applicable across development/social change programs?
Immunization – do children “anchor” norm?
Nutrition – do children promote different feeding/eating habits? 1. Approach children as agents of change
Reminders Pending questions without easy answers.
yet we need to keep them in mind Understand children as active allies in norm change, not just “passive recipients.”
Assess multiple roles of children in norms – what do children do in relation to norm maintenance and change.
Promote outward displays of norm change and enforcement by children.
Recognize children as community champions to highlight “new” norms. Modeling/imitation driven by pressures.
Perception about what the majority are doing (“everybody does it”).
Herd behavior and bandwagons.
Why do we follow norms? social belonging
What we expect others to do and what we believe others think ought to be done. norm promotion
activities. 2. How do we address the ethics
of social engineering in norm
change? programs to change norms
gender - meanings of masculinity and violence
hygiene - handwashing
health - tobacco, alcohol, immunization, breastfeeding
environment - recycling, sanitation 3. how do we assess consequences of norm change
on old practices and roles? what norms are important in
human development because they
have significant consequences? what to do?
Understand why certain, "negative" norms persist
What purpose/functions do they serve
Identify alternative norms to tap into - what
people value that may motivate them to change how do we use these ideas in programs? actors may accept, support, resist, ignore new norms 1. how do we address the fact that children are disempowered? Internal sanctions – guilt, fear, dishonor. External sanctions:
gossip, censure, ostracism, shaming. Identify easy options, doable actions
that resonate with people's values to shift norms http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/india_65717.html
A critical issue for C4D is the distinction between objective and perceived norms.

What people do may not be what people believe others are doing. This opens the dimension of why people follow norms as it directs out attention to whether people believe that certain behaviours are accepted and others practice them, as well.

Why do people follow norms?

Understand the purpose of old norms to assess whether new, “better” norms can fulfil similar functions.

Communication may raise the visibility of alternative norms that may meet similar expectations or encourage people to practice certain behaviours to follow “alternative” norms. How do old norms die out and “new” norms emerge? What factors lead to the emergence of norms?
What causes them to compete with opposite norms? What are the dynamics of change/spread that explain when and why a certain norm becomes dominant? How does communication help to reinforce positive new and old norms?
What C4D does in these cases is to cue in (“signal”) certain behaviours grounded in positive norms – that is, norms that are widely accepted in a community.
What factors at all levels make a certain norm “stick” and which ones can be mobilized to strengthen “new” norms?
Understand communication’s unique contribution to norming processes by reminding, signalling, and teaching people about the existence and (un)desirability of norms – in other words, the role of communication in formal and informal ways that help societies norm
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