Three Reasons Why Actors Working in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States Must Stop Ignoring Social Norms

By Diana Chigas and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church. Those of us who work to stop abuse of power – in the form of corruption, criminal activity, violence, state capture, etc. – are increasingly recognizing that social norms are key to achieving sustainable behavior change. We assert that in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS) social norms — the mutual expectations about what is typical and appropriate for members of a group — are even more important. Given their critical role in driving behavioral choices, programming that ignores social norms can have serious negative consequences.

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Anti-Corruption Programs — Know Your Crowd!

Social norms exist within a group. They represent mutual expectations, not just common beliefs, within the group about what is the right way to behave in a particular situation. And it is the approval, disapproval or other social sanction from the members of the group that helps ensure compliance with the norm. Therefore, understanding the group — who is in and who is out — matters for programming.

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