The Golden Bough: Taboo and the Perils of the Soul by James George Frazer

By James George Frazer

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In such networks, a norm of free talk can exist more easily. Overlapping also mechanically facilitates the circulation of information. As we have seen previously, it allows diverse actors to share the burden of sanctioning. Until now, most people who found sexual partners in their day-to-day network of friends behaved as if there were no risk because their day-to-day contacts implied knowledge and trust in non-sexual affairs. This kind of situation and behaviour may be considered dangerous. On the other hand, we can expect that it is also in such structural overlapping of acquaintance and sexual networks that norms of safe sex have a higher chance of being collectively upheld.

In order to enter into a relationship with their environment, social systems first have to take care of their own continuation from moment to moment. So it is only on the internal basis of their elementary operations that they can develop a relationship with the environment (Luhmann, 1984). This concept has farreaching consequences for every attempt of a preventive intervention from outside: it emphasizes the difficulties of prevention which in its effects depends on an autonomous process of understanding on the side of the intervened system.

This kind of situation and behaviour may be considered dangerous. On the other hand, we can expect that it is also in such structural overlapping of acquaintance and sexual networks that norms of safe sex have a higher chance of being collectively upheld. Communication and the Emergence of Norms It is clear to everybody that risk perception is important for norms about safer sex. This has a paradoxical consequence (which is generally present in many questions about the existence of a norm that serves to protect a social group from risks from within the group), to wit, the norm can be maintained only if it is perceived as not being maintained perfectly.

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