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The Unspoken Rules of Society: The Intersection of Tacit Codes and Culture

The Unspoken Rules of Society: The Intersection of Tacit Codes and Culture


For many ancient civilizations all across the world, a set of unspoken rules defined their society and culture. For example, Native American tribes or confederacies, such as the Iroquois, abided by certain customs in order to make their society thrive and function. These “tacit codes” not only established a sense of security in their tribe but distinguished the unique nation of the Iroquois. Even in modern times, tacit codes or social norms help create a sense of stability. Although the government provides clearly defined laws, providing the foundation for societal norms, ultimately, small communities with an agreed-upon set of moral codes allow for a wide array of diverse cultures. Unspoken rules greatly increase an individual's sense of belonging in a community by allowing them to foster a shared experience and unique culture with other group members.

Tacit rules and unspoken codes assist in the feeling of one's belonging in society because of the common experience that relates to all members within a particular group. For instance, in the famous Star Wars television series "The Mandalorian," the Mandalorians are a group of bounty hunters that abide by implied codes and a distinct way of life. All of the Mandalorians are required to wear armor with a helmet that covers their face, obscuring their identity to others. When watching the show, one can easily identify a bounty hunter because of their identifiable helmet. In a sense, the fact that all of the Mandolorians must comply with these codes greatly fosters a closely-knit society. In addition, after a Mandolorian completes a task or mission, they end with the phrase, "This is the way." 

Furthermore, in the history of the nation’s founding, tacit codes have brought people together in unexpected ways. For example, although the thirteen colonies each had different governments yet all shared a common hatred against the British. These colonies had different customs and societal norms, yet they were able to feel a sense of belonging when they all could express similar grievances. In particular, the colonies were divided into three main regions, which set them apart from one another. For example, the northern colonies rooted themselves in Puritan cultural traditions and settled in the Americas for primarily religious reasons. However, in the middle colonies, such as New York and Pennsylvania, there was much more religious diversity, which was valued by groups such as the Quakers. Lastly, the southern colonies created a culture based on agriculture. Unlike the middle and northern colonies, the colonial South focused on the economy and enforced slave labor as a means of profit. While these subgroups of the British colonies shared vastly different ideological beliefs and cultures, each felt a sense of a shared community in their hatred against the British, allowing them to band together during the American Revolution. In particular, the concept of taxation without representation demonstrates how the colonies had different rules and customs, but agreed upon the fact that it was unjust for the British to tax them without any form of representation. Unspoken rules can either be similar or different; however, they can create a common experience that brings people closer together.

Unspoken rules allow a group to foster a unique culture that differs from other societies. A group's unique culture plays a significant role in creating and fostering a sense of one's belonging within a community. For instance, different countries have unique ways of greeting each other or showing respect. In most European countries, it would be respectful to say hello to another person by kissing them on the cheek, but this contrasts with the American custom of shaking someone by the hand. These unspoken customs instill a sense of closeness and belonging because they allow people to share a distinct culture. Additionally, religion serves as a great example of how unspoken rules can generate belongingness. A variety of religions have traditions that members of that faith commonly enforce. Although some traditions and rules in religion are expected, they do not necessarily need to be followed in order for them to be considered a member of a particular faith. This means that people of a religion are still able to feel a sense of belonging regardless of whether they comply with traditions. However, some might argue that sticking to religious customs allows one to be more actively involved with others who share the same faith and a common culture. Overall, greetings and religion demonstrate how customs can allow members of a particular group to share a similar aspect of life.

Tacit rules bring people together in many ways, allowing people to relate to a common ancestry, experience, or culture. Although groups might differ from another's faith, religion, or ethnic background, they might feel similar in other aspects of life. Ultimately, tacit codes play a major role in forming societal norms for a community and enabling people to relate closely to one another.


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