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					The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms
                                 The Archive

Types of norms and examples

Pluralistic Ignorance                 doctors not reporting faults
                                      people not standing up for child-carriages in the train

Norms of Coordination                 markets for foreign currency, gambling, prostitution, alcohol and
                                    narcotics
                                

Norms of Partiality              first come, first served
                                
Norms of Cooperation




Themes
                                                  Examples of Norms and Conventions

The norm for gathering driftwood after a storm in a fishing village on the Yorkshire cost is
reported in Sugden (1989:85). Agents collect their driftwood in a pile and establish property
rights over these for two high tides by placing two stones on top.

The norm favoring the first comer when two cars from opposite direction have to cross a
bridge (sugden1989)


                                                                                                 Sanctions

Third-parties: Anyone who is favored by the convention on at least some occasions is likely
to regard any breach of the convention as an indirect threat, Sugden (1989:96).

Against Sanctions as Necessary

Sugden (1989:86) gives a series of examples of institutions and conventions existing, not only
without enforcement, but despite such: markets in foreign currency, gambling, prostitution,
alcohol and narcotics.

                                                                             Conventions Defined

Arbitrariness
Sugden (1989:86): “The essential feature of a convention is that it is one of several possible
solutions to a game”. Also, “I shall define a convention as any ESS in a game that has two or
more ESS‟s”, p.91.

Pareto-inefficiency

Sugden (1989:93) argues, contrary what Elster takes him to argue in Social norms and
Economics, that Conventions need not be Pareto-efficient. Because conventions spread by
analogy we should not necessarily expect them to be well-adapted, Sugden (1989:94).



                                          Pre-conventional, Pre-normative State

Sugden (1989:93): “The conventions that establish themselves will be the ones that can take
root (biological metaphors are almost unavoidably) most quickly in a convention-free world”.

                                                                                  Salience

(Sugden 1989:93): “But, I have argued, prominence is largely a matter of common
experience. The implication is that conventions may spread by analogy from one context to
another.”

                                                        The Dynamics of Convention

Which?

Sugden (1989:93) argues, contrary what Elster takes him to argue in Social norms and
Economics, that Conventions need not be Pareto-efficient. Because conventions spread by
analogy we should not necessarily expect them to be well-adapted, Sugden (1989:94).

Sugden (1989:93): “The conventions that establish themselves will be the ones that can take
root (biological metaphors are almost unavoidably) most quickly in a convention-free world”.

Best analogies spread, Sugden (1989:93)

Secondary Salience, Sugden (1989:94): “…different people may draw different analogies.
However, in looking for analogies, people are playing another coordination game: each is
trying to pick, not the analogy that most appeals to him, but the same analogy as everyone
else. Thus we should expect some common principles for drawing analogies to evolve.”

Versatility, A convention is versatile if someone who follows it can expect to do reasonably
well against opponents following any of the other conventions that might be beginning to
evolve at the same time, Sugden (1989:94).

Emergence - how?

Secondary Salience, Sugden (1989:93): “A convention can start to evolve as soon as some
people believe that other people are following it.

Analogy, (Sugden 1989:93): “But, I have argued, prominence is largely a matter of common
experience. The implication is that conventions may spread by analogy from one context to
another.”

                                                                Conventions as Norms
Sugden (1989:95-97) has a section on this problem. “People can come to believe that they
ought to act in ways that maintain these [behavioral] patterns: conventions can become
norms.” He refers to Hume as a source of the position taken.

Emergence – mechanism and how?

Sugden (1989:87): “The belief that one ought to follow a convention is the product of the
same process of evolution as the convention itself”.

Social approval and disapproval: “The mechanism that transforms conventions into norms
is the human desire for the approval of others”, Sugden (1989:95). Notice, that here Sugden
should perhaps have chosen the notion of social need for approval, as he goes on to argue that
frustration is the mechanism. The need then is not some pro-social one, but rather an
„instrumental‟ one connecting to the notion of reputation.

Frustration: Given this expectation, each person finds it in his interest to follow the
convention. And given that a person is following the convention himself, he not only expects
the people with whom he interacts to demand no more than the convention allows them, he
also wants them to behave in this way… My action is harming you by frustrating an
expectation that you had good reason to hold.” Sugden (1989:96).

Third-parties: Anyone who is favored by the convention on at least some occasions is likely
to regard any breach of the convention as an indirect threat, Sugden (1989:96).

Norms of Partiality

Sugden (1989:96), discusses the role of normative attitudes in relation to norms of partiality
explicitly mentioning gender favoritism. However, his position is seemingly equivocal saying
both that one should not expect normative attitudes against deviation in the disfavored group
as well as that this can be the case. If he is taken to assert the first view he is definitely
wrong, as the disfavored group is inflicted by harm by a sole disfavored deviator as well as the
favored group (see Hansen 2005, ch.6).

                                                                                   ‘Chicken’

Sugden (1989:87) has a section on „Chicken‟ as a model for studying the emergence of
property rights. He does not mention the single-population model, only the two-population
model where populations are given by labels.


                                                         Rationality and Coordination

Sugden (1989:88-90) gives a discussion of why rationality does not facilitate coordination. He
takes Schelling as the one showing that classical game theory cannot devise solutions for
games with multiple equilibria. Besides this, his discussion of why rationality fails is not
especially illuminating.


                                                          Evolutionary Stability – ESS

Not all NE‟s are ESS‟s, Sugden (1989:91)
Evolutionary stability contrasted with Classical Game Theory, in particular Selten‟s trembling
hand equilibrium concept, see Sugden (1989:92). Some space is devoted to contrasting the
concept of „trembles‟ with „mutation‟.

Sugden (1989:90-92) gives a discussion of ESS in relation to convention in the context of
„chicken‟. “I shall define a convention as any ESS in a game that has two or more ESS‟s”, p.91.


                                                                    Classical Game Theory

Sugden (1989) explicitly makes use of the notion of „Classical Game Theory‟ all the way.



Summaries
Sugden, Robert (1989). ‘Spontaneous order’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol.
3, number 4, Fall 1989, p. 85-97

Order in human affairs, Sugden argues, can arise spontaneously, in the form of conventions.
These are patterns of behavior that are self-perpetuating – that can replicate themselves. In
particular, rules of property – the essential preconditions for markets to work – can evolve this
way. These rules are not the result of any process of collective choice. Nor do they result from
the kind of abstract rational analysis employed in classical game theory, in which individuals
are modeled as having unlimited powers of deductive reasoning but no imagination and no
common human experience. In this sense, at least, conventions are not the product of our
reason.

Nor are these patterns of behavior necessarily efficient. They have evolved because they are
more successful at replicating themselves than other patterns: if they can be said to have any
purpose or function, it is simply replication [notice, this is relative to alternative conventions].
They do not serve any overarching social purpose; thus they cannot, in general, be justified in
terms of any system of morality that sees society as having an overall objective or welfare
function. The conventions that we follow may, however, have moral force on us. But if they do,
that is because our moral beliefs are the products of the same process of evolution.

				
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