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Alice Evans @_alice_evans
, 15 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
In 1972, only 15% of white Americans favored segregation
But 72% thought most whites favored segregation.

If we think others disagree, we may be timid to speak out.

Social change accelerates when people realise broad support:
through gatherings, protests, widely-viewed media.
My fave recent texts on norms & coordination:

- 8 pitfalls in researching norms

- Vehicles for social change…

- Climate change activism…

- Environ legislation…

- Norms in the wild
If you want an articulate, theoretical exposition of how social norms change, try "Norms in the Wild".

For an excellent overview of interventions in this space, check out "Vehicles for social change".

For a v. accessible, totally on point, scathing critique, "8 pitfalls" is ace
Imo, "social norms" are one of the most misunderstood phenomena in social science.

Very commonly invoked, yet not always backed up with relevant empirics, or theoretical explanation of what drives change.

The texts above *greatly* improved my understanding.

Check 'em out!
If you're interested in my work on social norms, pages 2-4 may be helpful:

- Distinguish between internalised ideologies & norm perceptions
- Beliefs are reinforced by labour markets, politics, media, & geography…
My most depressing paper explores how colonialism reinforced gender inequalities,
& why the social norm of the male breadwinner persisted from 1940-1990.…
[it also has a footnote on the most nervous night of my life: when i underwent marital initiation]
From the 1980s, urban Zambians struggled with worsening economic security: factory closures, mine closures, job losses, wage cuts, price hikes for consumer goods, user fees, & HIV/AIDS.

People could no longer rely on a male breadwinner.
Men previously discouraged their wives from working.

It signaled their inability to provide; their failure as men.

But with worsening economic security, men sacrificed their social respect, for the economic advantages of female employment. They saw it as beneficial.
With this macroeconomic shift, & change in opportunity costs of women staying at home, female employment rose.

Now, at first, this just increased women's burdens: they did paid work, care work, & weren't recognised or respected for their huge contributions.
And this is consistent with the wider literature on gender & development.

If you read papers written on structural adjustment, rising female employment, & gender relations in Asia, Latin America, & Africa in the 90s & early 2000s, they are all very critical.
But over time, people saw a mass of women working in all sorts of jobs, fighting to provide for their families, paying school fees.

Through prolonged exposure, people came to see women as equally competent, & deserving of status.
So now, if you go to the Zambian Copperbelt, you might here this popular expression:

"Umwanakashi kuti abomba incito ya baume".

A woman can do what men can do.

If you're interested, I wrote a paper all about this:…
But but but...

Going back to the initial tweet of this thread,

Social change accelerates when we see others changing.

So yes, people saw women succeeding in the public domain: in employment & politics. And this catalysed a positive feedback loop in beliefs & behaviour...

Social change is much slower if its unseen.

So, even if some men share the care work, if this is not seen, if people don't realise that other men do this, then people may fear rebuke, & be reluctant to follow suit.

Men are more likely to take parental leave if they think their peers will support this. But men tend to underestimate public support.
They need to see uptake to believe it!

Two similar studies - from Japan & USA……
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