Government policies and social customs are two key words that have existed side by side since time immemorial. Neither of them seems complete when left in isolation. Social customs are the traditional values, beliefs, and cultures that define the way of life of a particular group of people. Social customs are the basic foundations that differentiate one group from the other. The groups may be differentiated in terms of tribe, race, and nationality among other formulas for differentiation. The concept government comes in to put the different customs present in a country into some form of order to ensure peace and cohesion in the country. As Thomas Hobbes puts it, people transfer some of their natural rights to the government or state in return for security and opportunity to optimize on their individual abilities.
Government policies and social customs usually have an influence on each other, with social customs usually having a greater share. Many governments are generally created to give effect to the prevailing social customs in a country. One thing to note is that customs are always taken to be sacred, and breaking them would constitute a heinous crime. For instance, in the "The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong" the position taken by King Yongjo to throw Crown Prince Sado into rice death does not constitute any contemporary sense of democratic leadership, but rather is based on the long established social customs of the Korean people. In the book, it becomes evident that king Yongjo took a dramatic twist to kill his only son who as Lady Hyegyong proves was suffering because of the pressures imposed by the king. This heinous action by the king had no public participation as happens in the democratic states, but still, it became a self-imposed policy by the king and as such was not to be questioned by anybody. In this respect, we see how social customs dominated people’s lives to such an extent that they were considered government policies.
A deliberate government policy also does have a toll order on the people’s customs especially on their way of life. The policy effects on social customs usually happen when the government makes a swift intention to go to war, for instance, to protect national interests. Wars usually have dramatic and serious effects on people’s way of life as normal conditions are disrupted forcing everybody to squeeze the available chances. For instance, in the “Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies” that gives in detail the effects of Pacific war on Japanese we find how the policy to go to war changed the normal life and customs of ordinary Japanese. Food rationing and other essential commodities were rationed because the supply and demand at that critical moment could not balance up. The rationing measures severely affected students who were forced to deviate from their normal eating customs of having food throughout the week to missing some meals. In this respect, therefore, we see how government policies can interfere with the normal customs and change them at least for some time.
The issue of customs having a toll effect on the kinds of policies adopted by the government can also be traced in the book “Women and Confucian Cultures” telling about the Confucian cultures where women faced a highly intense subjugation than anywhere else in the world. From the revisionist KO and other collaborators, it becomes evident that the position taken by women which, in comparison to that of men, was lowly valued was actually entrenched in the societal customs. Therefore, in the Confucian orthodox, social customs perpetuated government policies that had to give men more autocracy than women.