rules and rule-following
rules and rule-followinga general term for the normative codes, codes of signification, rules of games, and the like which play an utterly central role in the constitution (making a particular type of action what it is, e.g. a wedding or a funeral) and the regulation (e.g. criminal law or the rules of ‘fair play’ in sport) of particular forms of social life. Rules may be overt and on the surface or tacit and ‘deep structural’.
It is a crucial characteristic of all ‘rules’ that they do not ‘determine’ action or behaviour in a ‘lawlike’ way, but require or leave room (potentially or actually) for ‘choice’. However, an individual actor must follow the appropriate rules if he or she is to be taken as
appropriately ‘doing’ particular types of action. Rule-following, then, is the action of an individual in ‘conforming’ to a rule and can be distinguished from ‘predetermined’ behaviour, such as drinking in response to thirst. The centrality of rule-following as the basis of human social structures is widely regarded as making human social systems different from most other kinds of system.