Doing nothing


those who practice a particular involvement idiom are likely to sense that their rules for participating in gatherings are crucial for society’s well-being—that these rules are natural, inviolable, and fundamentally right. And these persons will need some means of defending themselves against the doubts that are cast on these rules by persons who break them. The greater the infringment, the greater will be the need for this compensative defense. (Goffman 1963, “Behavior in Public Places”, pp. 234-235)

Garfinkel 1

Ethnomethodological studies analyze everyday activities as members’ methods for making those same activities … accountable… The reflexivity of that phenomenon is a singular feature of practical actions, of practical circumstances, of common sense knowledge of social structures, and of practical sociological reasoning. By permitting us to locate and examine their occurrence the reflexivity of that phenomenon establishes their study. (Garfinkel 1967, p. vii)

Garfinkel 2

Just as commonly, one set of considerations are unexamined: the socially standardized and standardizing, “seen but unnoticed,” expected, background features of everyday scenes. (p. 36)

Garfinkel famously assigned his students social breaching experiments.

Milgram 1

Scheff (1960) refers to this class of norms as “residual rules,” [and] isolates these rules on the basis of two criteria: (1) people must be in substantial agreement about them; and (2) they are not noticed until a violation occurs. These rules have been likened to the rules of grammar in that one can follow them without an explicit knowledge of their content and yet notice a violation immediately. (MilgramSabini 1978, p. 31)

Milgram 2

The fact that these residual rules are usually unexpressed creates a serious obstacle to their study: We are virtually inarticulate about them. When compared with formal laws, for example, which have been explicitly codified, residual rules have been left unarticulated by the culture. (p. 31)

Milgram had his experimenters (1) ask able-bodied but seated riders, with no explanation, to give up their seats and (2) cutting ahead in lines of people waiting to purchase railroad tickets.


QIC! Questions, Insights & Connections

Enhancing Compliance

Four things increase compliance: commitment to the community, legitimacy of the norms, the ability to save face, and expectations about rewards for compliance or sanctions for noncompliance. (KrautEtal 2012, “Building Successful Online Communities”, p. 150)


  1. In more cohesive groups to which members are more committed, members will be more likely to spontaneously comply with the norms.
  2. Community influence on rule making will increase compliance with the rules.
  3. Face-saving ways to correct norm-violations will increase compliance.

Rewards and Sanctions

  1. Telling search engines not to follow links will discourage spammers from posting links.



  1. Verified identities and pictures will reduce the incidence of norm violations.
  2. Reputation systems, which summarize the history of someone’s online behavior, help to encourage good behavior and deter norm violations.
  3. Prices, bonds, or bets that make undesirable actions more costly than desirable actions will reduce misbehavior.
    • Van Alstyne proposed an “attention bond” of people pay a tax to have you read their email; would work on the small scale, not one commercial spam (p. 157)
  4. Increasing the benefits of participating with a long-term identifier will increase the community’s ability to sanction misbehavior.


  1. Imposing costs for or preventing pseudonym switching increases the community’s ability to sanction misbehavior.
  2. Forcing newcomers to post bonds that may be forfeited if the newcomers misbehave or forcing newcomers’ sponsors to stake their own reputations increases the community’s ability to sanction misbehavior.
  3. Graduated sanctions increase the legitimacy and thus the effectiveness of sanctions.


  1. Peer reporting or automatic detection of violations increases the deterrent effect of sanctions.

A mild but certain punishment is more effective in deterring misbehavior any severe but uncertain punishment. (p. 162)

  1. Increased community cohesion, graduated sanctions, explicit rules, identifiable perpetrators, formal sanctioning roles, and anti-retaliatory measures increase the likelihood that sanctions will be applied and thus increase the deterrent effect of sanctions.