I found the overarching theme of order and assimilation very interesting, with the most influential reason that people seem to follow norms in Germany being a fear of possible consequences.
The first article mentions the prevalence of biking in Germany. I think that there are a few ways that this mirrors the US, but with a few fundamental differences. First, Germans are very environmentally friendly, and there seems to be a norm of being conscious of one’s own footprint. In the US, there may be many people who walk or bike in cities, but there are still plenty of people who drive, and plenty of people who do not care so much about the environment. I may be wrong, but there seems to be a more consistent norm of environmental consciousness in Germany. Additionally, people who opt for biking or walking may do it because they are either in the subset of the US population who are environmentally friendly, or because it is cost-saving. I also found it cool that bicyclists are a pampered bunch in Germany—when I’m biking in Ann Arbor, it seems that there isn’t much infrastructure in place for bicyclists compared to Germany.
The article about the honor system in German public transportation interests me, as well. Being a college student, the first thing I think about is the honor system as it pertains to an academic context. For example, I just took an exam this last week in which no instructors were present in the room when students were taking the exam. Many other exams are take-home, as well. These sorts of systems are intended to work in the students’ favor, where a take home exam for example allows a student to take the exam in whatever environment makes them most comfortable. With the main incentive to abide by the honor system being that students want to believe that they earn their grades, the other incentive is that punishment if you are caught violating the honor code is severe. Similarly in Germany, I imagine that the honor system is intended to make things easier for everyone, and most people follow it because they are honest people. Another reason may be the culture of organization along with the fear of being caught—no one would want to be publicly shamed.