Moral entrepreneur  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A moral entrepreneur is a person who seeks to influence a group to adopt or maintain a norm. The moral entrepreneur may press for the creation or enforcement of a norm for reasons that are either humanistic or selfish.

The term "moral entrepreneur" was coined by Becker. In his view, moral entrepreneurs fall into roughly two categories: rule creators, and rule enforcers. Rule creators can be seen as moral crusaders, who are concerned chiefly with the successful persuasion of others, but are not concerned with the means by which this persuasion is achieved. After a time, crusaders become dependent upon experts or professionals, who serve to legitimize a moral creed on technical or scientific grounds. Rule enforcers, such as policemen, are compelled by two drives: the need to justify their own role, and the need to win respect in interactions. Such officials tend to take a pessimistic view of human nature because of constant exposure to willful deviance.


  • Becker, Howard S. (1973). Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: The Free Press, 147-153.

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