Wednesday, October 17, 2012
An intriguing tale about law enforcement and social norms:
The dog owners and dog walkers of Buenos Aires are loath to pick up excrement, and it is rare to walk more than a block without encountering a turd. The piles of feces throughout the city are an odorous nuisance that restrict how people interact with public space, visually mar neighborhoods, and threaten public health.
A city ordinance demands excrement be picked up and properly disposed of in garbage receptacles, but with little to no enforcement, dog owners in Buenos Aires regularly flout the law. An 'if-my-neighbors-don't-see-me-it-doesn't-matter' mentality pervades the city and it's become a deep-rooted culture with a powerful feedback loop. Dog aficionados leave excrement behind because other dog aficionados leave excrement behind, and on and on.