Disrupting Norms


Key Questions

  • Who breaks the "unwritten rules" of interaction and to what end?
  • When, how, and for whom do the "unwritten rules" hinder interaction?
  • When does interaction require sidestepping its "unwritten rules" in favor of problem-solving processes?

While maintaining consistent norms is important for a group's stability, disrupting norms is sometimes necessary for expanding a group's work or for expanding participation in the group. We are interested in several situations. First, we study instances where specific norms hinder participation in a group, by limiting the kinds of people who can join the group or the ways they can participate in the group. Second, we study instances where an entire normative framework is an obstacle. In this case, groups must often coordinate conflicting values to achieve their objectives. Across the board, we study whether focusing on solutions might be more effective than coordinating norms, which can ultimately give groups an opportunity to rethink their normative values and practices.