In the social sciences, the term "normative" has broadly the same meaning as its usage in philosophy, but may also relate, in a sociological context, to the role of cultural 'norms'; the shared values or institutions that structural functionalists regard as constitutive of the social structure and social cohesion. These values and units of socialization thus act to encourage or enforce social activity and outcomes that ought to (with respect to the norms implicit in those structures) occur, while discouraging or preventing social activity that ought not occur. That is, they promote social activity that is socially valued (see philosophy above). While there are always anomalies in social activity (typically described as "crime" or anti-social behaviour, see also normality) the normative effects of popularly-endorsed beliefs (such as "family values" or "common sense") push most social activity towards a generally homogeneous set. From such reasoning, however, functionalism shares an affinity with ideological conservatism.
Normative economics deals with questions of what sort of economic policies should be pursued, in order to achieve desired (that is, valued, ibid.) economic outcomes.