Introduction: Entering the New Century
Living in a world without any social, political or moral restrictions can hardly seem possible, because the humankind needs certain boundaries which will define the meaning of good and evil, thus, setting certain rules with the help of which the humankind can survive.
However, as time changes, one must expect the change in every single sphere, mainly because the change is an integral element of human evolution and must remain the key principle of the world development. However, the question is whether the process of evolution should concern the sphere of morals and social norms.
The Positive Outcomes: Beyond the Boundaries
On the one hand, the change in the social norms is obviously a positive shift in the world development and an obvious progress to a more intelligent society, and the efforts of those changing the norms are completely justified. Moreover, the process of changing norms is quite natural, according to Sunstein,
Sometimes these efforts are a function of the role […] Sometimes efforts to change norms and roles reflect an understanding that human beings are selfish or have weakness of will and that measures should be taken to ensure behavior that, on reflection, we would like to follow. (924)
Therefore, the positive outcome of the norm-changing process is obvious. Since evolution presupposes progress, changes are inevitable. However, there are also certain controversies about the issue.
The Negative Outcomes: Forgetting the Basic Principles
However, it is worth mentioning that, according to certain sources, norms are the three pillars of society which are not to be changed under any circumstances. As Young explains, “The function of a social norm is to coordinate people’s expectations in interactions that possess multiple equilibria.
Norms govern a wide range of phenomena, including property rights, contracts, bargains, forms of communication, and concepts of justice” (1), which means that norms are the fundament of the modern society and are not to be changed, otherwise the whole system collapses.
The Possible Solution: Searching for the Golden Mean
One must give Young certain credit for maintaining social values; however, it is clear that social norms, like any other concept, must evolve from its plainest form into a more complex structure together with the society.
Therefore, it must be admitted that, though certain social norms must remain the same, e.g. the inadmissibility of a murder, the system of social norms must still be more flexible and evolve towards tolerance. Once becoming more humane and understanding towards the people who do not fit into the social morals and norms, the world will be able to pass to another stage of development.
Conclusion: As Far as the Change Goes…
Therefore, it is obvious that the changes in the social norms are completely inescapable and that these changes are predetermined by complex processes that have been taking place in the society for a considerable amount of time.
Even though these changes have seemingly negative effects on the state of the society, they are bound to drive the world to the further stage of progress, which can be considered as a positive element of development. With the tendency to tolerance and the pace of the social changes, there will be hopefully little to no outcasts in the nearest future.
Sunstein, Cass R. “Social Norms and Social Roles.” Columbia Law Review 96.4 (1996): 924, 929.PDF file.
Young, Peyton. “Social Norms.” The New Palgrave Dictionary of economics, 2nd ed., Ed. Durlauf, Steven N. and Blume, Lawrence E. London, UK: MacMillan, 2008. PDF file