We understand ourselves through categories and normative standards. In philosophy, social norms are linked to power for the purpose of managing and organizing populations; yet norms are not inherently oppressive. They provide a foundation for our perceptions of experience, but norms may evolve or dissipate with time. There can be a multitude of contradictory norms in any given context, particularly when one perceives another person as embodying a norm through gestures or visual cues.

According to a psychological study conducted at UC Berkeley, people curate their own behaviors according to how they perceive others’ compliance with standards of appropriateness and correctness in a given context. They allow us to predict which actions will procure a satisfactory response from others.

Changes in technology, politics and our understanding of others’ perceptions can impact the relevance or efficiency of norms over time. Norms give guidance for navigating experiences. But what happens when individuals perceive norms differently in a given interaction? If two parties have conflicting expectations what is their exchange like? When does performing a role become fused with reality?

18 year old
Norms help us understand people and their behavior. But what happens when we can’t fit people perfectly into a box?

5 year old

Why is it acceptable to yell on a playground, but not in a classroom? What happens when people judge a book by its cover?



Power is the ability to control or influence, whereas authority is power that is perceived as legitimate because of the social structure it exists within. According to Foucault, power is inherently hierarchical, and occurs only as one party exercises power/control over another (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Social norms are unwritten rules and expectations. They provide structure and order to social situations and interactions. Differences in social norms emerge by context, as we embody a given role in a given environment. Norms have life spans; they emerge and die out. Norms may be efficient or inefficient, although efficiency is not the reason for a norm’s existence (SEP,

black box approach addresses a device or system in terms of stimuli (input and output) without knowledge of its inner workings (Tim Chung, CalTech). “The most capable technologies are notoriously opaque, offering few clues as to how they arrive at their conclusions” (Ariel Bleicher, Scientific American).

Business ethics. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, business deals with exchanging goods and services for monetary compensation. Business ethics includes analyzing all parts of the production, distribution, marketing, sale, and consumption processes. Business ethics may examine the “effectiveness of the codes of conduct designed to guide the actions of people engaged in business activity.”

Complexity Science “is the scientific study of complex systems, or systems with many parts, which interact to produce global behaviour that cannot easily be explained in terms of interactions between the individual constituent elements” (Complexity Science Focus).

Cybernetics is the science of communication and control within living beings and machines. “Its focus is how anything (digital, mechanical or biological) processes information, reacts to information, and changes or can be changed to better accomplish the first two tasks.” Cyberneticists study a range of concepts from learning, efficiency, adaptation and social control (Norbert Weiner, GWU).

Implicit bias refers to thoughts and feelings we are either unaware of, or unaware of their origin. This can include subconscious stereotyping and associating behaviors with groups of people (Perception Institute).

Explicit bias refers to conscious judgments, or preconceived notions/attitudes/ideas that one has about a person or group.

A cyberattack is a malicious action taken by a state, individual, or group that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, and/or personal computer devices. Cyberattacks emerge anonymously for the purpose of stealing, changing, or destroying, often hacking into more vulnerable systems.

Normative standards refer to what is perceived as acceptable and correct. Normative beliefs commonly refer to collective beliefs (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Neural network is a technological system modeled after the human brain. Neural networks are often effective at identifying patterns within large sets of data.

Narrative Psychology studies people’s observations of narratives, in relation to how humans conceive of experience . Narratives allow people to sort and make sense of memories, decisions, ideas and struggles. Others’ narratives may function as precedents, which impact people’s views and outlooks. Narratives bring attention to life experiences. Narrative psychology touches on the persuasiveness of storytelling, and its ability to skew memories according to certain included/omitted information. (Caldiero, Schiff)

Socialization is the process of learning to conduct oneself acceptably in society. Socialization is not voluntary. “Immediately after you are born, and long before you have the intellectual capacity to understand what it is that is happening to you, the process of imposing the social order begins.” (SocJourn)

Collective consciousness refers to shared beliefs and attitudes within a society.


Mass Culture “is the set of ideas and values that develop from a common exposure to the same media, news sources, music, and art. It is broadcast or otherwise distributed to individuals instead of arising from their day-to-day interactions with each other.” Mass culture deals with how culture is produced and distributed. (Chegg and

Simulation is an imitation of a situation or process. Simulations may also refer to a digital model of an experience, event, or thing. A simulation is often made to look and feel similar to its original, representing a true, or believable experience. (Merriam-Webster, and Oxford Dictionaries).

Additional terms for reference

Hacking is programming, or gaining access to data/information, potentially breaching security/regulations to access a computer system

Subordination, as discussed in Philosophy, references compliance with power/authority. (SEP)

Social Constructs are constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality.

Constructed knowledge is information intended to fit a particular frame of reference (Business Dictionary).

Redact is to edit/censor, often for publication, an edited or abridged version

Consumer Culture is capitalistic in nature, focused on selling consumer goods and spending consumer money.

A Counterculture is a likely a subculture, whose ‘members’ and norms of behavior differ from those of mainstream society,

Pluralism is the coexistence of two or more systems, states, groups or principles.

Social stratification refers to a system in which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy.

Reality is the state of affairs as they actually exist, rather than an idea or perception of them.

Future is a time following the current moment, something subsequent, or still to come.

Philosophy deals with the nature of knowledge, reality, and existence.

Governmentality is the way in which a population is governed or managed (Foucault).

Ethics are moral principles that govern behavior.

A Republic is a state where power is held by the people.

Democracy is a system of government run by officials elected by eligible members of a state.

Globalization is the process by which businesses and organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.

To Disambiguate is to remove uncertainty of meaning, to clarify