Corruption and Social Norms: A New Arrow in the Quiver

One key question driving innovations in corruption studies is: how can anticorruption reforms be more impactful and sustainable? It is critical to learn the answer to this question, due to the detrimental impact of corrupt practices on equality, human rights, peace and the rule of law.

A significant body of research has shown that many anti-corruption initiatives do not produce the expected effect, or they achieve results that fade soon after the intervention ceases. Seeking to understand how to improve anti-corruption outcomes, scholars have turned to causal explanations of the persistence of corruption, ranging from institutional settings and individual motives to informal practices and social norms.

This article explores the intersection of social norms and corruption as a contribution to improving anti-corruption programming. It explains how norms impact our conceptual understanding of corruption and the vicious cycle that exists between corrupt practices and norms. Grounded in the belief that programming and social norm diagnosis need to be contextually driven, the authors lay out the nascent research on changing social norms that drive corruption and the consequences of ignoring them.

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Corruption and Social Norms
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Annual Review of Political Science
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