Difference Between Norm and Rule

In every society, company, family and organizations of various kinds there are criteria that are used to, in some way, regulate the actions of the people who belong to it. It is then common to hear phrases such as “you have to follow the rules” or “these are the rules that we must follow”. In this sense, both terms are what give meaning to these criteria.

In this way, these words are often used interchangeably to refer to the same purpose, so they are often used as synonyms, but in reality, they do not mean the same thing. First of all, we must define both terms briefly, so that the reader understands their meaning and makes proper use of them in their daily lives and possibly in the organizations to which they belong.


We can understand as a norm, the set of guidelines or criteria from the “must be”, therefore, it obeys patterns of conduct and behavior of people within society, in their family and in the different organizations in which they are immersed. .

The fundamental purpose of the rules is to regulate life in society, understanding man as a social being. The norms can then have both a legal and a moral character. In short, it can be said that the norms are the guidelines that guide people’s lives and although in some cases they may have a legal nature, they are usually less strict than the laws and rules.

For example:

An important example of rules are the “rules of coexistence” that have currently gained a lot of popularity in different organizations, especially those of an educational nature and that encompass the set of guidelines that parents, students, teachers and other members of the community. educational community must comply to make good use of the educational space.

These regulations usually include guidelines for compliance with uniforms or appropriate clothing, schedules, compliance with school duties, among others.


We can understand by rule, the set of more formalized and established norms and customs in organizations to control the behavior of people and favor proper functioning through compliance with them.

In short, it can be said that the rules are formal or legal norms that affect the actions of people, indicating what they should and should not do within a company or organization, whatever its nature.

An example of a rule is, the internal regulations of a community of owners of a residential building, where the actions and guidelines that the owners and tenants must comply with for the proper functioning of the same are specified, among them are the punctual cancellation of fees for cleaning gardens, corridors and elevators, among others. Failure to comply with these rules generates specific sanctions to the owner or tenant who incurs the fault.

From all of the above, the notable difference between norm and rule is deduced. The importance that both have for the work, social and family life of all people can be evidenced. This is because the fulfillment of obligations, guidelines, duties and responsibilities leads to the proper functioning of organizations, be they family, social, work or business, among others. In addition to the differences inherent to the previous definitions, others are indicated below:

  • The fundamental purpose of the rules is to guide the behavior of people so that they are correct and convenient. The fundamental purpose of a rule is to seek the effectiveness of a certain process.
  • The norm concept is more general, therefore, it seeks to guide behaviors and actions of people. The concept of rule is more punctual, since it seeks to delimit actions and behaviors.
  • The rules come from morality, from the “must be” in action. The rules come from the obligations to be fulfilled in a certain organization.

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