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Social Norms, Emergence Of

Norms are important because they contribute to social order. Law (or the state) is one solution to the problem of order, the market another. Norms provide a potential alternative. Thus, norms may substitute for law and the market. In addition, norms may be related to law such that legal changes affect norms, which in turn may have unanticipated effects. Legal reforms that fail to take social norms into account, therefore, may not produce the desired results. Finally, norms themselves can be reflected in law. Norms arguably matter, both as an alternative to, and in conjunction with, law and the market. But just what are norms? Where do they come from?

Scholars use two approaches to explain norms and how they emerge, each associated with different assumptions ...

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