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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

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /ˈfɔːməl nɔ(ə)rm/
    • British English
      • /ˈfɔːməl nɔːm/
  • Syllabification: (for·mal norm)

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 October 19, 2019 (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 October 19, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/formal-norm/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“formal norm.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/formal-norm/>.