Saint Louis University Public Law Review


In this paper I analyze the recent definitions of norm given by Brennan, Eriksson, Goodin, and Southwood in Explaining Norms (2013) and by Cristna Bicchieri in The Grammar of Society (2006). I illustrate the analysis with bad citizenship and civil disobedience phenomena, focusing on some particular cases: abortion, cyclist urban mobility, marijuana legalization, management of cultural and linguistic diversity, and squatter movements.

In section 1, I introduce both views of norms, the methodology I use and the hypothesis I defend. In section 2, Norms in Brennan, Eriksson, Goddin, and Southwood’s ‘Explaining Norms’ (2013), I look at the agentialist definition of norm based on accountability. Depending on different forms of accountability and sanctions, the authors make a difference between individual moral norms, social non-formal norms, and formal norms. I pay special attention to proceses of norm emergence, persistence, change, unravelling and breaching, and to bad norms. In section 3, Norms in Bicchieri’s ‘The Grammar of Society’ (2006), I analyze the agentialist definition of norm based on her notion of expectations, and I relate it to statistical regularities. Depending on these expectations, Bichieri makes a difference between social norms, descriptive norms, and conventions and she considers a modular way of norm activation. In section 3.1. I study the modular way of norm activation given by Bicchieri, in section 3.2 I deepen in norm formation and in section 3.3 I mention Bicchieri’s ideas about civil disobedience.

In the conclusions section I sum up the findings and I defend that a broad integrative definition of norm including both accountability -Brennan et al.- and expected statistical regularity -Bicchieri- is necessary in order to work with norms and to apply them to bad citizenship and civil disobedience phenomena.