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Age Norms

What Are Age Norms?

Age norms are a variety of social norms, which are rules for behavior and have three defining characteristics: they are shared, obligatory (i.e., contain a should or ought element), and backed by positive or negative sanctions (for classic treatments of social norms, see Blake and Davis). Age norms are commonly defined as social rules for age-appropriate behavior, including everyday actions and/or the timing and sequencing of major life events (e.g., marriage, parenthood, retirement; in sociological parlance, life events are typically role transitions). Thus, they constitute a social clock or temporal script potentially influencing attitudes and behavior (e.g., Hopkins's thinking in the dialogue above).

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