Skip to main content

normative order

normative order Any system of rules and shared expectations governing a particular social situation. The concept occurs most frequently in functionalist theory, especially the normative functionalism of writers such as Talcott Parsons, where the various elements of the normative order (notably shared value-commitments but also obligations of membership and sentiments of loyalty) operate to secure social order. The centrality of the societal normative order to Parsonsian accounts of social stability is evident in his claim that ‘societal order requires clear and definite integration in the sense, on the one hand, of normative coherence and, on the other, of societal “harmony” and “coordination”. Moreover, normatively-defined obligations must on the whole be accepted while conversely, collectivities must have normative sanction in performing their functions and promoting their legitimate interests. Thus, normative order at the societal level contains a “solution” to the problem posed by Hobbes—of preventing human relations from degenerating into a “war of all against all”’ (The System of Modern Societies, 1971). This is probably as concise a statement of the organizing principle of Parsons's sociological theory as occurs anywhere in his voluminous writings. See also CONSENSUS; HOBBES, THOMAS.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"normative order." A Dictionary of Sociology. . 11 Mar. 2019 <>.

"normative order." A Dictionary of Sociology. . (March 11, 2019).

"normative order." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved March 11, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.