Norms vs Values


Norm and value, how often do these two things got mixed up? Let’s find out, written below are remarks for respective context. “Waiting in line for a cup of coffee at a café,” and “being respectful to others.” One of these statements is norm, guess which one? If your choice lands to the second remark, congratulations!!! You are almost there but not quite, it is the first remark.

Norm and value are often got mixed up for a very good reason, they are similar and often overlaps each other. Norm is often described as a belief about how one should behave in a given context and usually cultural bound, for example: waiting in line, wearing black to a funeral, or saying thank you. As it stands, it is fairly normative indeed, and people are expected to practice this behavior in order to get accepted within a society. Value on the other hand, is ought to be good, it is an expected behavior for a well being of self and all. It ranges from something that is personal, for example: always give the extra mile, being brave because you are right, always being honest; to a wider scope, such as national value: Pancasila for Indonesia, Freedom for United States, etc.

Good though it may seems, norm is not always a positive thing, it can also be inappropriate to say the least. Other than all of the good things mentioned above, tardiness, unfriendliness, ignorance, can also be described as norm as well. It doesn’t know the boundary between good and bad, it simply exists within a culture. Racial discrimination for example, it was universally acceptable until just a few decades ago, and even now we can still feel the remnants of that sentiment. It is also relative in nature, a man carrying his lady friend’s handbag  could be seen as a sign of care and tenderness for some people, or can also be seen as humiliating by others.

Value on the other hand, is absolute, it is always positive, and derived from good norms and all of the good things that shaped the world. On a corporate scope, it is often used to set a corporate own identity and direction. Our company éclat Consulting, uses eclectic, considerate, lively, applicable, and thorough (abbreviated into éclat) as our core value. Toyota Motor Corp. uses its infamous Toyota way as its core value, which consists of: continuous improvement and respect for people. Individually, these things can be practiced anywhere by anyone, and may as well operate as a norm; but woven together, these individual norms becomes values that shapes a corporate identity and determines its direction.

In essence, value exists alongside norm and derived from it, it is often exists to regulate the pre-existing norm, so that a group of people or an organization could operate the way they intended to be. Whereas norm exists within a culture, among the people themselves; it is neither good nor bad, it all really depends on the context and culture surrounding the norm itself.


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