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Why do People Punish the Rule Breakers?: The Sustainability of Social Norms

Author

Listed:
  • Singh, Indervir

Abstract

This paper attempts to provide reasons for sustainability of social norms by considering internalization as the basic motivation behind the punishment behavior. A society requires people to implant the social norms in others, and punishing the rule breaker provides a person utility by letting him feel good through fulfilling his responsibility. The responsibility increases with closeness of relationship, therefore relatives and friends tend to punish the rule breaker harder. The breaking of a norm also acts as a 'bad name' for rule breaker's relatives and friends, which, further, prompts them to punish him. Since, punishing the rule breaker also benefits non-punishers, some people may start selling the punishment activity, if the benefited people, due to their internalization of the norm, pay punishers in the form of money, support etc.

Suggested Citation

  • Singh, Indervir, 2010. "Why do People Punish the Rule Breakers?: The Sustainability of Social Norms," MPRA Paper 21691, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:21691
    as

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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/21691/1/MPRA_paper_21691.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Dreber, Anna & Rand, David G. & Nowak, Martin, 2008. "Winners Don't Punish," Scholarly Articles 2252594, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Basu, Kaushik, 2003. "Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261857.
    3. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    4. Elster, Jon, 1996. "Rationality and the Emotions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1386-1397, September.
    5. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social norms; internalization; bad name; power asymmetry;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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