Social Rules


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Social rules to some extent dictate peoples daily activities, and what people consider as norm is subject to change. A good example is that of measures of cleanliness, comfort and convenience, which are dynamic and not fixed. Infusion of beliefs and practices in a society is what determines whether people would adopt lifestyles that support sustainable practices or not. Ways through which resources are consumed especially water and energy is a true reflection of the sociological aspects that are deemed normal.

The models of change outlined concerning cleanliness, comfort and convenience reflect a transformation to a more resource-demanding resource from a less resource-demanding technology. Hence, analyzing sustainability problem requires an understanding of social rules in order to determine the beliefs and practices that are perceived to be normal. Consequently, one can determine whether those rules are resource-demanding or pose to sustainability problems (Shove, 2003).

According to Shove (2003), the social rules of cleanness, comfort and convenience have undergone a transformation over time. Air conditioning for example has evolved to suit peoples expectations. An air conditioned-way of life dictated by home and office designers has been adopted. Nowadays, it is possible to manufacture and regulate air conditions inside a building regardless of the environmental price or cost.

The social rule of comfort is what dictates the kind of air-conditioning that is considered normal and appropriate. The other example is laundry or washing activities that have transformed over the previous centuries depending on cleanness rules. Technological advancement has been witnessed through the use of washing machines. The kind of clothes worn and the number they possess determine washing needs (Shove, 2003).

There is great reliance on technology and the definition of washing is determined by the washing machines. Some activities are also governed by the rule of convenience for instance people sell majority of goods and commodities for convenience reasons. There are two forms if conveniences, the hypermodern and the modern form of convenience. The hypermodern form refers to reducing the time that one takes to accomplish a given task or achieve a desired goal.

Some devices that increase convenience include the car, video and even the email. The other activity that has not been mentioned in the text is transportation, which ahs undergone evolution over years. Traditionally, forms of transportation that was used included animals and carts. Nowadays, there are modern means of transportation such as cars, trains and planes. The modern transport means have resulted to detrimental environmental effects such as pollution. Agricultural practices are the other example of activities that have evolved and adopted the use of technology such as sowing, harvesting and planting machines (Shove, 2003).

Some of the daily activities include cooking, which makes use of high-risk technology, communicating via cell phones, which makes use of nanotechnology. Moreover, there are stain resistant fabrics and sunscreens that make use of nanotechnology. The individual driving force for doing these activities is to improve the normal well-being of an individual. These activities are what make up a normal life of an individual and most of them are inevitable.

For example, people wear stain resistant clothes and use improved sunscreens for comfort reasons. The society views commodities such as clothes aspects as norm and a form of social stratification. People who own expensive clothes and sunscreens that make sue of nanotechnology are associated with high social class level since majority of them are well-off and can afford such luxuries.

In reference to Shoves reading, the driving social rules that control daily activities are comfort and convenience. For instance people interact by using cell phones for convenience reasons. Through the use of cell phones people can communicate easily and at any given time. Hence, these gadgets are more convenient compared to traditional means of communication such as oral communication (Shove, 2003).

According to Innes (1990), myths are a type of informal rules that direct daily activities. The creation of myths relies on symbols, shred images, modes of action and characters concerning a given culture or society. Myths guide individuals in various aspects of lives ranging from family lives, professional lives and public lives. For example when it comes to professional lives, myths play a role in informing people the way scientists are to collect data and come up with sound conclusions.

Myths also play a role in defining and giving meaning to various policies. A good example is the policy of home ownership, which has a great mythological value (Innes, 1990). Home ownership is a true reflection of the power that a myth which is deeply grounded in a given culture possesses. This has made it extremely challenging to implement policies that are not supported by a given myth.

An agrarian myth contributed greatly to the implementation and adoption of the home ownership policy, which has shown great durability in the United States. Myths act as a fundamental connection between policy and knowledge and enable the implementation of policies with mythical importance (Innes, 1990).


 Innes, J. E. (1990). Knowledge and Public Policy. The search for meaningful indicators. Transaction publishers

Shove, E. (2003). Converging conventions of comfort, cleanliness and convenience. Journal of consumer policy 26, 395-418

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