A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom.
In a social context, a convention may retain the character of an "unwritten law" of custom (for example, the manner in which people greet each other, such as by shaking each other's hands). Certain types of rules or customs may become law and sometimes they may be further codified to formalize or enforce the convention (for example, laws that define on which side of the road vehicles must be driven).
In physical sciences, numerical values (such as constants, quantities, or scales of measurement) are called conventional if they do not represent a measured property of nature, but originate in a convention, for example an average of many measurements, agreed between the scientists working with these values.
A convention is a selection from among two or more alternatives, where the rule or alternative is agreed upon among participants. Often the word refers to unwritten customs shared throughout a community. For instance, it is conventional in many societies that strangers being introduced shake hands. Some conventions are explicitly legislated; for example, it is conventional in the United States and in Germany that motorists
drive on the right
Left-hand traffic (LHT) and right-hand traffic (RHT) are the practices, in bidirectional traffic, of keeping to the left side or to the right side of the road, respectively. They are fundamental to traffic flow
side of the road, whereas in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Nepal, India and the United Kingdom motorists drive on the left. The standardization of time is a human convention based on the solar cycle or calendar. The extent to which
Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Madonna of Mercy, Palazzo Altemps, Rome
Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people recei ...
is conventional (as opposed to
Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe
The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...
Objective may refer to:
* Objective (optics), an element in a camera or microscope
* ''The Objective'', a 2008 science fiction horror film
* Objective pronoun, a personal pronoun that is used as a grammatical object
* Objective Productions, a Briti ...
) is historically an important debate among
A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras ( ...
The nature of conventions has raised long-lasting philosophical discussion. Quine
David LewisDavid or Dave Lewis may refer to:
*A. David Lewis (born 1977), American comic writer and scholar of religion and literature
*David Lewis (academic) (born 1960), English scholar of development
*David Lewis (lawyer) ( – 1584), Welsh ...
published influential writings on the subject. Lewis's account of convention received an extended critique in
Margaret Gilbert (born 1942) is a British philosopher best known for her founding contributions to the analytic philosophy of social phenomena. She has also made substantial contributions to other philosophical fields including political philosoph ...
's ''On Social Facts'' (1989), where an alternative account is offered. Another view of convention comes from
Ruth Garrett Millikan (born 1933) is a leading American philosopher
A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coin ...
's ''Language: A Biological Model'' (2005), once more against Lewis.
According to David Kalupahana,
The Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni) was a philosopher, mendicant, meditator, spiritual teacher, and religious leader who lived in ancient India (c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He is revered ...
described conventions—whether linguistic, social, political, moral, ethical, or even religious—as arising dependent
on specific conditions. According to his paradigm, when conventions are considered absolute realities, they contribute to dogmatism, which in turn leads to conflict. This does not mean that conventions should be absolutely ignored as unreal and therefore useless. Instead, according to Buddhist thought, a wise person adopts a
The Middle Way ( pi, ; sa, ) as well as "teaching the Dhamma by the middle" (''majjhena dhammaṃ deseti'') are common Buddhist
Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion
Religion is a social system, social-cultural sy ...
without holding conventions to be ultimate or ignoring them when they are fruitful.
Customary or social conventions
Sociology is a social science
Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly ...
a ''social rule'' refers to any social convention commonly adhered to in a
A society is a group
A group is a number
A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...
. These ''rules'' are not written in
Law is a system
A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole.
A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, ...
or otherwise formalized. In
Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge in sociology
Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social scien ...
there is a great focus on social rules. It is argued that these rules are socially constructed, that these rules act upon every member of a society, but at the same time, are re-produced by the individuals.
Symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory that develops from practical considerations and alludes to people's particular utilization of dialect
The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through ...
argue that social rules are created through the interaction between the members of a society. The focus on active interaction highlights the fluid, shifting character of social rules. These are specific to the social context, a context that varies through time and place. That means a social rule changes over time within the same society. What was acceptable in the past may no longer be the case. Similarly, rules differ across space: what is acceptable in one society may not be so in another.
Social rules reflect what is ''acceptable'' or ''normal'' behaviour in any situation.
Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, History of ideas, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and Literary criticism, literary critic.
Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship ...
's concept of
Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning fields such as sociology, anthropology, continental philosophy, and discourse analysis. Fo ...
is closely related to social rules as it offers a possible explanation how these rules are shaped and change. It is the social rules that tell people what is ''normal'' behaviour for any specific category. Thus, social rules tell a woman how to behave in a
manner, and a man, how to be manly
. Other such rules are as follows:
*Strangers being introduced shake hands, as in Western societies, but
Bow often refers to:
* Bow and arrow, a weapon
* Bowing, bending the upper body as a social gesture
* An ornamental knot made of ribbon
Bow may also refer to:
* Bow (ship), the foremost part
* Bow (rowing), the foremost part of a boat
toward each other, in Korea, Japan and China
** '' Wai
'' each other in Thailand
**''Do not'' bow at each other, in the Jewish tradition
**In the United States, eye contact, a nod
of the head toward each other, and a smile, with no bowing; the palm of the hand faces sideways, neither upward nor downward, in a business handshake.
**Present business cards to each other, in business meetings (both-handed in Japan)
*Click heels together, while saluting in some military contexts
*In most places its always polite to ask before kissing or hugging, this is called
public display of affection
Public displays of affection (PDA) are acts of physical intimacy
Physical intimacy is sensual proximity or touching. It is an act or reaction, such as an expression of feeling
Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensatio ...
*A property norm is to place things back where we found them.
*A property norm is used to identify which
Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods ...
are accepted as money.
A sexual norm can refer to a person
A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of soc ...
can refer to a personal or a social norm. Most cultures have social norms regarding sexuality, and define normal sexuality to consist only of certain sex acts between individuals who meet specific criteria of age, consanguinity, race/ethnicity, and/or social role and socioeconomic status. In the west outside the traditional norm
between consenting adults what is considered not normal is what falls under what is regarded as
Paraphilia (previously known as sexual perversion and sexual deviation) is the experience of intense sexual arousal
Sexual arousal (also sexual excitement) is typically the arousal
Arousal is the physiological and psychological
or sexual perversion.
*A form of
Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouses. It establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and ...
Polygyny (; from Neoclassical Greek πολυγυνία from Wiktionary:πολύς, πολύ- ''poly-'' "many", and Wiktionary:γυνή, γυνή ''gyne'' "woman" or "wife") is the most common and accepted form of polygamy, entailing the marriag ...
Polyandry (; from grc-gre, πολυ- ''poly-'', "many" and ἀνήρ ''anēr'', "man") is a form of polygamy
Polygamy (from Greek language, Late Greek , ''polygamía'', "state of marriage to many spouses") is the practice of marriage, ma ...
, is right or wrong in a given society
, as is homosexual marriage considered wrong in many of the societies. An religious more for an example is that a woman or man must not cohabitate, live together, when romantically involved until they have gotten married. Adultery is considered wrong that is not violating sexual fidelity when there is union of a couple in marriage.
*A men's and women's
A dress code is a set of rules, often written, with regards to what clothing groups of people must wear. Dress codes are created out of social perceptions and norms, and vary based on purpose, circumstances, and occasions. Different societies an ...
*Avoid using rude hand gestures like pointing at people,
Profanity is a socially offensive use of language, which may also be called cursing, cussing or swearing, cuss words (American English vernacular), curse words, swear words, bad words, dirty words, or expletives. Accordingly, profanity is lan ...
Offensive may refer to:
* Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative
* Offensive (military), an attack
* Offensive language
** Fighting words or insulting language, words that ...
A curtsy (also spelled curtsey or incorrectly as courtsey) is a traditional gesture of greeting, in which a girl
A girl is a young female
Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobi ...
in some societies
*In the Middle East, never displaying the sole of the foot toward another, as this would be seen as a grave insult.
*In many schools, though seats for students are not assigned they are still "claimed" by certain students, and sitting in someone else's seat is considered an insult.
when something is done for us.
Etiquette ( and ; ) is the set of conventional rules of personal behaviour in polite society, usually in the form of an ethical code
Ethical codes are adopted by organizations to assist members in understanding the difference between right
norms, like asking to be excused from the gathering's table, be ready to pay for your bill particularly in the case you asked people to dinner, its a faux pas to refuse an offer of food as a guest.
Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth control only became av ...
norms, not to limit access to them by women who require it, some cultures limit contraception.
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a psychoactive drug to induce an altered state of consciousness either for pleasure or for some other casual purpose or pastime by modifying the perceptions, feelings, and emotions of the user. When a psychoac ...
restrictions on access or as popularly accepted in the culture where it is used as an example alcohol, nicotine, cannabis and hashish, there's a disincentive and prohibition for controlled substances where use and sale is prohibited like MDMA and party drugs.
*The belief that certain forms of
Discrimination is the act of making unjustified distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. People may be discriminated on the basis of Racial discrimination, ra ...
are unethical because they take something away from the person by restrictions and by being ostracised. Furthermore can "Restrict women's and girls' rights, access to empowerment opportunities and resources".
*A person has a
duty of care
In tort law
A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intenti ...
for the aged persons within the family. This is particularly true in countries of Asia. Much of aged care falls under unpaid labor.
*Refuse to favor known persons, as this would be an abuse of power relationship.
*Don't make an
A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something. As a noun
A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.E ...
if you know that you can't keep it.
*Don't ask for money if you know that you can't pay it back to that person or place.
*"Practice honesty and not deceive the innocent with false promises to obtain economic benefits or gratuities."
*It's suitable to make a
pledge of allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 ...
in the United States, when prompted too in some social context.
A gentlemen's agreement, or gentleman's agreement, is an informal and legally non-binding wikt:agreement, agreement between two or more parties. It is typically oral, but it may be written or simply understood as part of an unspoken agreement by c ...
, or gentleman's agreement, is an informal and legally non-binding agreement between two or more parties. We follow through on our business dealings, when we say we will do something then we do it and won't falter to do so.
*Do not divulge the privacy of others.
*Treat friends and family non-violently, be faithful and honest in a couple, to treat with respect the beliefs, activities or aims of our parents, show respect for beliefs, religious and cultural symbols of others.
* Tolerate and respect people with functional diversity, particularly when they wish to integrate in a game or sports equipment. Also tolerate different points of view than your own, even if contrary, and don't try and change their beliefs by force.
*Give the seat to people with children, pregnant or elderly, in public and private transportation.
*Face the front, don't go elevator surfing, and don't push extra buttons in an elevator or stand too close to someone if there are few people.
*In a library it's polite to have talk in the same noise volume as that of a classroom.
*In a cinema it's correct to not talk during a movie because people are there to watch the film, also it's correct to not have phones on as the light and sound will distract other patrons.
*If you are going to be punctual
notify friends or acquitances if you will be late.
*If you cannot show up to a restaurant, theater, cinema etc to an outing its proper to give the reason over your phone or address sometime prior.
*It's a norm to speak one at a time.
*A religious vow
is a special promise. It made in a religious sense or in ceremonies such as in marriages when there's an couple who are being promised to marriage called " marriage vow
s ", they are also promising one another to be faithful and take care of their children.
*A military oath called an
oath of enlistment
An Air Force officer administers the Oath to a group of 150 enlistees (not pictured)
The oath of enlistment is a military oath made by members of the United States armed forces who are not commissioned officers.
Upon enlisting in t ...
in the US is a convention. "To commit oneself by taking an oath is to commit oneself to something external, an external standard by which one's actions can be judged."
*Helping somebody in need, in may be for social responsibility or to prevent harm, like in the parable of the Good Samaritan
*Don't go to a non-fast food restaurant or bar unless you have enough to make a good
Tip commonly refers to:
* Tip (gambling)
* Tip (gratuity)
* Tip (law enforcement)
Tip or TIP may also refer to:
Science and technology
* Targeted intervention program, a type of medication therapy management
* Tip and ring, two wires in a telep ...
, depending on the place.
*Examples of US social norms or customs turned into laws is the following:
** People under 21 cannot buy alcohol
**You must be 16 to drive.
**Firearms are legal and relatively accessible to anyone who wants one.
**In a city you cannot cross the street wherever you like, you must use a zebra crossing. You can be fined if the police catch you breaking this rule.
**It is a social norm to provide tips in the US to waitresses and waiters.
*There are numerous gender-specific norms that influence society:
**Girls should wear pink; boys should wear blue.
**Men should be strong and not show any emotion.
**Women should be caring and nurturing.
**Men should do repairs at the house and be the one to work and make money; while women are expected to take care of the housework and children.
**A man should pay for the woman's meal when going out to dinner.
**Men should open doors for women at bars, clubs, workplace, and should clear the way for the exit.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state.
In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, Executive (government), ex ...
, convention is a set of unwritten rules that participants in the government must follow. These rules can be ignored only if justification is clear, or can be provided. Otherwise, consequences follow. Consequences may include ignoring some other convention that has until now been followed. According to the traditional doctrine (Dicey), conventions cannot be enforced in courts, because they are non-legal sets of rules. Convention is particularly important in the
The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary
A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance
Governance comprises all of the processes of governing – whether undertaken ...
of government, where many of the rules are unwritten.
The term "convention" is also used in
International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide ...
to refer to certain formal statements of principle such as the
Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC or UNCRC) is an international international human rights instruments, human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health an ...
. Conventions are adopted by international bodies such as the
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations am ...
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for har ...
. Conventions so adopted usually apply only to countries that ratify them, and do not automatically apply to member states of such bodies. These conventions are generally seen as having the force of international
A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law
International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...
for the ratifying countries. The best known of these are perhaps the several
upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties
A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by soverei ...
De facto standard
A de facto standard is a custom or convention that has achieved a dominant position by public acceptance or market forces (for example, by early entrance to the market). is a Latin phrase that means ''in fact'' (literally by or from fact) in th ...
Standard may refer to:
* Colours, standards and guidons
* Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification
Norm, convention or requirement
* Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined relationship to a unit of ...
A literary trope is the use of figurative language
Literal and figurative language is a distinction within some fields of language
A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
*Rescorla, Michael (2007Convention
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''SEP'') combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. E ...
an index of important international conventions.