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The arbitrariness and normativity of social conventions

Al-Amoudi, Ismael and Latsis, John 2014. The arbitrariness and normativity of social conventions. British Journal of Sociology 65 (2) , pp. 358-378. 10.1111/1468-4446.12042

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Abstract

This paper investigates a puzzling feature of social conventions: the fact that they are both arbitrary and normative. We examine how this tension is addressed in sociological accounts of conventional phenomena. Traditional approaches tend to generate either synchronic accounts that fail to consider the arbitrariness of conventions, or diachronic accounts that miss central aspects of their normativity. As a remedy, we propose a processual conception that considers conventions as both the outcome and material cause of much human activity. This conceptualization, which borrows from the économie des conventions as well as critical realism, provides a novel perspective on how conventions are nested and defined, and on how they are established, maintained and challenged.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conventions; French pragmatic sociology; normativity; realism; theory
Additional Information: Online publication date: 9 April 2014. Pdf uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s policy at http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/issn/0007-1315/ (accessed 09/12/2014)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0007-1315
Funders: ALJC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2021 23:52
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/59099

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