Education, study and knowledge

The 5 differences between law and norm

The human being is a gregarious and social being that lives with other members of the same species. But coexistence is something complex, especially when it occurs among a large number of people who have their own needs, motivations and objectives. It is necessary, in order to ensure that the rights of its members are respected and to be able to organize, establish some regulations for the activity and behavior of each of the individuals that make up the group. These regulations can take different forms.

In this article we are going to talk precisely about the differences between law and norm, two of the main types of regulations that significantly influence our behavior.

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The law and the norm

Before going into talking about the differences between the two concepts, let's first establish a brief definition of each of them to understand the similarities and visualize why they cannot be considered same.

We understand by rule that

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regulation or principle established and socially imposed that indicates the expected behavior or necessary in certain situations. It is a social convention that does not necessarily have to be true or be obeyed in all cases, although it depends on the type of norm and its legal consideration. Its main function is to indicate and regulate the activity of the human being so that it adapts to what is socially accepted.

There are a wide variety of types of rules with different consideration, such as moral or legal. Non-compliance may lead to some kind of punishment, depending on the situation.

Regarding the concept of law, this type of regulation supposes the construction of a rule or norm considered legal and that has been established by the authority in order to put certain limits on the conduct permitted in society as well as the right to act within its margins. Failure to comply will always be prosecuted and punished. It applies to all citizens.

Before the definition of each of the concepts we can see that there is a certain link between them. In fact, the law is considered a type of legal norm, mandatory. But despite this, both concepts present a series of peculiarities that mean that, unless they are specify that we are talking about a legal norm, it cannot be considered that law and norm are equal.

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Main differences

Although in the brief previous definitions it is already possible to observe a large part of the differences between law and norm, we will see them more clearly below. It is important to bear in mind that in this section when we speak of norm we will refer to non-legal norms.

1. Mandatory

One of the main differences between law and regulation is found in the level of obligation with which the different subjects that are part of the population have to follow them.

In the case of the norm, the fact that it is mandatory or not will depend on its type and on the evaluation made of it by who has to follow it. The rule itself only marks the expected behavior, but its breaking does not imply a crime (although it can have consequences) unless we are talking about a legal rule.

In the case of the law and other types of legal norm, its compliance is mandatory, resulting in its non-compliance a fault or crime and generating the application of a sanction.

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2. Origin

Who establishes the regulation in question is, in most cases, a second difference between norm and law.

In a general way, we can consider that the norm is socially constructed and emanates from opinion majority of a group or community or of an individual with power or influence in a certain context. However, these rules do not have to have legal repercussions and they may even contravene what is established by law, being in some cases punishable.

For example, a person may decide to set the rule that he can smoke in her bar, even if the law does not allow it. Despite this, many of these norms can be voted on and subsequently incorporated as laws.

As for the law, it is prepared and established by the legislative branch and must be previously approved by Congress before it can be applied.

3. Target

The target or objective of the law and regulation may also differ. The law applies or should be applied in all cases without exception, regulating the activity of all members of the same society without making distinctions. On the contrary, the norm can be directed to a specific group of people or to a very specific situation, being limited and partial.

People outside this group will not be affected by itAlthough they are part of the same community (for example, that one company does not allow its employees to wear tattoos or that they have to hide them from them does not imply that in another it may be allowed)

4. Flexibility and change

The level of change and flexibility that can be had when modifying regulations or the degree to which they can be interpreted can also vary greatly.

The rules can be reinterpreted and reworked with some ease, although it would be necessary to modify or introduce changes in the perception of those that establish it (which if it occurs at the level of a small group can be easy but if it is at the social level it can entail great difficulty and much weather). Regarding the laws, their interpretation is not so free and in case of wanting to modify them, it requires a procedure that can be complex, in addition to depending on the activity of the Administration.

5. Consequences of non-compliance

Failure to comply with both rules and laws can have a number of consequences. In the case of the laws, there will always be a sanction of some kind, being said penalties and sanctions are already determined in advance. In the case of the rules, it is possible that there is no predetermined punishment for breaking them or even that it does not involve any, although it may such non-compliance be punished through social rejection or consequences have also been established in advance for those who do so. make.

Also in relation to science

Beyond the legal sense, we can also find that the differences between law and norm are also found at the scientific level: the norm establishes the behavior or the habitual way of happening of some phenomenon without it being necessarily obligatory for it to be complies, while law is defined as that theory that is fulfilled in all cases or at least those that are known until the moment.
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