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Mixed MessagesNorms and Social Control around Teen Sex and Pregnancy$
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Stefanie Mollborn

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190633271

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190633271.001.0001

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Theorizing about Norms and Social Control

Theorizing about Norms and Social Control

(p.25) 2 Theorizing about Norms and Social Control
Mixed Messages

Stefanie Mollborn

Oxford University Press

This social psychology theory chapter lays out tools for understanding norms and social control and how people navigate these social pressures. Sometimes norms occur in sets, within which norms can conflict or work together. Norm sets regulate not only behaviors but also emotions, public portrayals of behaviors, and metanorms. Seemingly contradictory norm sets can be understood by considering their underlying rationale. Norm enforcers and norm targets strategically deploy norm sets in an attempt to control teenagers. These strategies involve new ideas about how norms are communicated and how teens’ social relationships and resources are manipulated. In the less static view that results, social actors use norms as tools to achieve their goals, conflict between norms and between social actors is common, and norms and behaviors can change quickly. This perspective relates norms strongly to social inequalities, complicating our understanding of what it means for a norm to be effective.

Keywords:   social psychology, norm, social control, norm sets, metanorms, norm enforcers, norm targets, social inequality

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