Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The arbitrariness and normativity of social conventions

Al-Amoudi, Ismael ORCID: 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

[thumbnail of AL AMOUDYArbitrariness and normativity of social conventions _ accepted version.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (266kB) | Preview


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 (accessed 09/12/2014)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0007-1315
Funders: ALJC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 06:47

Citation Data

Cited 14 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics