1 Making, interpreting and applying rules
The aim of this course is to introduce you to the processes of making, interpreting and applying rules.
We often think about social rules, most of which are unwritten and which we observe because we have a shared social understanding of what they are. We are now going to think about a different kind of rule. A definition of a rule (as opposed to a habit, custom or role) is shown in Box 1.
Box 1 Rules
A rule is something which prescribes what a person must/must not do, may/may not do, can/cannot do. It is generally possible to go to a text (such as an Act of Parliament, a contract, the written decision of a court, or the holy book of a particular religion) which specifies what the rule is. The authority of a rule is generally accepted and observed by those to whom it applies. Formal sanctions, such as punishment or the payment of compensation, may be applied if the rule is broken.