Everybody wants to belong

a practical guide to tackling and leveraging social norms in behaviour change programming


Any collective behaviour can be motivated by a complex set of drivers, which may not be readily obvious. Typical behaviour change programming tends to focus on individual factors and neglect social influences. But when collective practices are partly driven by social norms, they warrant very specific interventions. This guide explores this specificity.

To realize a 2030 Agenda that aspires to be people-centred, the development community at large recognizes that Social and Behavior Change requires greater support and attention. However, several challenges have impeded progress to date, especially on programming to influence social norms. These include: hesitancy to engage in a field perceived as theoretically complex and hard to master; sensitivities related to the ethics of shifting norms which are inextricably tied to cultural and social identity; difficulty in planning and resources for such activities - social change can take time, beyond our working and funding cycles; lack of data that properly inform and measure the main drivers of behavior, including social norms; lack of support to integrate social norms theories into practical application on the ground; and a general lack of knowledge around the importance of social norms and how they facilitate or hamper our mission.

This publication is meant to help overcome these challenges.

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UNICEF Regional Offices Middle East and North, West and Central, Eastern and Southern Africa
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English, Arabic