Tag Archives | Deviance

Faking It Is Hard to Do: Entrepreneurial Norm Enforcement and Suspicions of Deviance

Minjae Kim, Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan

Sociological Science, October 25, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a24

Recent research suggests that many norms may be upheld by closet deviants who engage in enforcement so as to hide their deviance. But various empirical accounts indicate that audiences are often quite sensitive to this ulterior motive. Our theory and experimental evidence identify when inferences of ulterior motive are drawn and clarify the implications of such inferences. Our main test pivots on two contextual factors: (1) the extent to which individuals might try to strategically feign commitment and (2) the contrast between “mandated” enforcement, where individuals are asked for their opinions of deviance, and “entrepreneurial” enforcement, where enforcement requires initiative to interrupt the flow of social interaction. When the context is one where individuals might have a strategic motive and enforcement requires entrepreneurial initiative, suspicions are aroused because the enforcers could have remained silent and enjoyed plausible deniability that they had witnessed the deviance or recognized its significance. Given that the mandate for enforcement might be rare, a key implication is that norms might frequently be underenforced.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Minjae Kim: Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Email: minjae@mit.edu

Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan: Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Email: ewzucker@mit.edu

Acknowledgements: We thank Ari Adut, Hannah Birnbaum, Ronald Burt, Vanessa Conzon, Daniel DellaPosta, Roberto Fernandez, Jae-Kyung Ha, Oliver Hahl, Kate Kellogg, Minkyung Kim, Josh Krieger, Aruna Ranganathan, Dawn Robinson, and Robb Willer; audiences in the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association session on attitudes, norms, and behaviors; and the Economic Sociology Working Group and Behavioral Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management for their helpful comments and feedback. All the usual disclaimers apply.

  • Citation: Kim, Minjae, and Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan. 2017. “Faking It Is Hard to Do: Entrepreneurial Norm Enforcement and Suspicions of Deviance” Sociological Science 4: 580-610.
  • Received: July 17, 2017
  • Accepted: September 13, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Mario Small
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a24
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