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formal norm (formal social norm)

Definition of Formal Norm

(noun) Norms that are established by an authority and that are punishable when broken.

Example of Formal Norm

Formal Norm Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: for·mal norm

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /fOR-muhl nORm/
  • British English – /fAWm-uhl nAWm/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈfɔrməl nɔrm/
  • British English – /ˈfɔːməl nɔːm/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: formal norms
  • The terms “formal norm” and “formal social norm” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.

Related Quotation

  • Laws are the most common type of formal norms; they have been codified and may be enforced by sanction” (Kendall 2006:55–56).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Works Consulted

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Formal Norm

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “formal norm.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/formal-norm/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

formal norm. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/formal-norm/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “formal norm.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/formal-norm/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“formal norm.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 23 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/formal-norm/>.