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Cultural Norms 

What are cultural norms?  

Cultural norms, also known as social or societal norms are a set of shared expectations that dictate how individuals within a culture or society should interact, conduct themselves and respond to certain situations. These norms are widely understood rules that guide human behaviour, and they vary significantly from one culture to another.  


What are examples of cultural norms? 

  • Behaviour and etiquette 

Cultural norms govern how people should act and behave in social situations. This includes greeting others, table manners and body language. 

  • Communication 

Cultural norms also influence how people communicate with each other which includes the use of language, tone and non-verbal cues. It also influences topics of conversation and how individuals express emotions. 

  • Gender roles 

Roles and responsibilities of men and women within societies, families and workplaces can also be influenced by cultural norms. 

  • Religion and spirituality 

Norms based on religious practices, rituals and beliefs can vary largely among cultures and this can influence individuals’ moral and ethical behaviour. 

  • Social hierarchies 

Many cultures have norms that define social hierarchies. These include riles related to respect, authority and deference to elders and leaders. 

  • Employment and work 

Cultural norms can impact work related behaviours like work ethic, punctuality, and how individuals interact with each other in professional settings. 

  • Social interactions 

Cultural norms also dictate how individuals should interact with strangers, acquaintances and close friends. They also impact how conflict is resolved and how apologies are made. 

What is a cultural celebration?  

A cultural celebration is an event or occasion that highlights the customs, traditions, heritage and achievements of a culture or group of people. It aims to commemorate, express and preserve cultural identity. Cultural celebrations also promote understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and reinforce a sense of belonging within a community. Cultural celebrations come in various forms and occur at various times throughout the year. Examples include festivals, holidays, Heritage Month, traditional ceremonies and cultural exhibitions or fairs.  



It’s important to remember that cultural norms are not static. They can evolve over time due to factors like globalisation, technology and changing societal attitudes. Understanding and respecting cultural norms is essential when interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. This helps to avoid misunderstandings while also promoting cross-cultural communication. 

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