Social Norms and Corruption

Social Norms and Corruption: How Social Pressure Affects Corruption

Advisory Group

Ben Cislaghi
Associate Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Fredrik Eriksson
Former Senior Advisor, U4 Anti-Corruption Centre

Heather Marquette
Professor in Development Politics, University of Birmingham
Senior Research Fellow in Governance & Conflict, DFID

Phil Mason
Anti-Corruption Specialist, Formerly DFID

Julia Roig
President, PartnersGlobal

The Social Norms and Corruption Project (SNAC) aims to shift social norms from the periphery to a central component of corruption analysis and anti-corruption strategy. Where appropriate, we believe social norms should be considered a key element of programs that touch – directly or indirectly – corruption, accountability and transparency, or governance.

Toward this goal, the Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program is currently working with practitioners to co-develop approaches, tools, and materials to address social norms that influence corrupt behavior. We are also convening sharing and learning opportunities to deepen understanding of the role of social norms in the anti-corruption field.

Our journey into the world of social norms began in 2015, as we developed a systems-based analysis methodology for analyzing corruption. Although we initially included social norms as one factor, it was not the main focus and fell victim to other priorities. By the time we completed the first test of the methodology in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it became clear that social pressures and expectations had an important role to play in maintaining corrupt systems. The mechanisms were not yet clear, though – leading us into our next phase of research.

In 2019, we published our findings in “Understanding Social Norms: A Reference Guide for Policy and Practice.”

Interested in partnering with us? For more information, please contact us and be sure to subscribe to our Corruption in Fragile States Blog, where we regularly post new findings.


Featured Publication

Understanding Social Norms: A Reference Guide for Policy and Practice

Understanding Social Norms: A Reference Guide for Policy and Practice

A guide by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Diana Chigas, …



All Project Publications

Understanding the Underlying Values, Norms and Behaviors Constraining the Implementation of Administrative Sanction in the Ugandan Public Service

Understanding the Underlying Values, Norms and Behaviors Constraining the Implementation of Administrative Sanction in the Ugandan Public Service

This report inquires into the underlying norms and values that drive the resistance to the removal of public servants convicted …
Strengthening Rule of Law Approaches to Address Organized Crime: Social Norms

Strengthening Rule of Law Approaches to Address Organized Crime: Social Norms

Based on a roundtable discussion with USAID and MSI, this white paper explores what social norms are, why they matter, and presents broad approaches and tools for changing social norms that could apply to organized crime. …