Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social Norms Explaining the Lack of Adequate Action in the Norwegian Police's Response to the 22.07.11 Terrorist Attack
by Søbstad Bensnes, Markus, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2014, 77; 13833847
Abstract (Summary)

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of July 22nd, 2011 on government buildings in Oslo and a summer camp on Utøya Island, the prime minister’s office tasked a special commission with investigating three questions in regards to the incidents: What happened 22/7/11? Why did it happen? How could we as a society let it happen?

The report concluded months later, with a devastating criticism of the police and their efforts. Largely, the counter measures brought into play by the police, on local, regional, and national levels, were deemed inadequate and sub par to what should be expected. The report held leadership and culture in the police organization to be chiefly explanatory for their failures.

In the weeks and months to follow, the report’s findings were debated and a variety of explanations were discussed.

This paper sets out to apply Bicchieri’s theories on social norms to the documented narratives of the police’s behavior, to suggest that the Norwegian social norm of equality hindered adequate action on the part of the police again and again. The findings demonstrate significant prevalence of the norm in the Norwegian police, when considering their behaviors and operations on the day in question. This paper also argues for a correlation between preference for conforming to the norm and specific behavioral patterns, thus suggesting plausible explanatory properties as to the lack of leadership, absence of initiative, and strong, group thinking patterns criticized by the commission.

Further, this thesis explores improvisation as a means to transform social norms, and examines the deviating examples - the outliers in the 22/7 case - to test the method’s applicability and feasibility as explanatory element.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Perry, Susan
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 58/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: European Studies, Sociology
Publication Number: 13833847
ISBN: 978-0-438-79599-0
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