Cover of The Rewards of Punishment by Christine Horne
The Rewards of Punishment
A Relational Theory of Norm Enforcement
Christine Horne


224 pages.
from $26.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804760218
Paperback ISBN: 9780804760225
Ebook ISBN: 9780804771221

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Excerpts and More

The Rewards of Punishment describes a new social theory of norms to provide a compelling explanation why people punish. Identifying mechanisms that link interdependence with norm enforcement, it reveals how social relationships lead individuals to enforce norms, even when doing so makes little sense.

This groundbreaking book tells the whole story, from ideas, to experiments, to real-world applications. In addition to addressing longstanding theoretical puzzles—such as why harmful behavior is not always punished, why individuals enforce norms in ways that actually hurt the group, why people enforce norms that benefit others rather than themselves, why groups punish behavior that has only trivial effects, and why atypical behaviors are sometimes punished and sometimes not—it explores the implications of the theory for substantive issues, including norms regulating sex, crime, and international human rights.

About the author

Christine Horne is Associate Professor of Sociology at Washington State University. She is editor of Theories of Social Order (Stanford 2003, 2009) with Michael Hechter and Experiments in Criminology and Law with Michal Lovaglia.

"In this elegant short volume, Horne exhibits a mastery of experimental methods used to evaluate theories of norm enforcement and also shows a nearly staggering breadth of reference to philosophical, literary, economic, and political theory, as well as relevant concepts from within experimental psychology. Tour de force comes to mind as an apt description of what she treats us with in The Rewards of Punishment: A Relational Theory of Norm Enforcement."

—Keith E. Davis

"This work provides the big picture and then some. Horne tests theoretical predictions in controlled laboratory settings and then applies insights gleaned from the theory to real world problems. This incredibly rare offering will be welcome in the social sciences."

—Brent Simpson, University of South Carolina

"Horne's very innovative ideas, particularly her discussion of the origin of political correctness as an over-enforcement of norms, are insightful and original, as are the experiments she has designed to test them. This work includes one of the best defenses of the experimental method around and the real-life examples and empirical puzzles will pique readers' intrinsic interest."

—Satoshi Kanazawa, London School of Economics and Political Science

"This is an important book. Previous theories of norms either have been psychological or, if sociological, have not gone much beyond simply recognizing that norms have something to do with groups. In linking norms to the conditions for their enforcement, Horne grasps a connection essential for understanding social norms and their emergence."

—David Willer, University of South Carolina, coauthor of Building Experiments: Testing Social Theory