Social License

“Social License” is a term straight from the textbooks of the squishy soft science of sociology. However, it is an interesting and important concept. Social license is the willingness of others to tolerate your activities. An example might be the willingness of the neighbors to tolerate your bizarre lawn decorations. Presumably your lawn jockey although tasteless and ugly will be found tolerable while a Greek statue of the 5th BC will feature nudity and drive the local religionist into convulsions and conniption fits and send them straight to the city for  new municipal rule banning art. See, you lost your social license.

Of course, social license has more serious ramifications for the society at large. A good article in Slate discusses these implications. There is serious discussion here of how the perception of behavior determines whether or not organizations are able to continue in the face of social consensus.

It’s a good read, I recommend it.