This project is designed to make you conscious of what it means to act as a sociologist. The paper should be about 2.5 pages.
Select one of the norms discussed in class. Example: way people stand in elevators, distance kept when two people are talking or sitting (invading personal space), certain utensils used when eating. Then go and observe the normal behavior which interests you. At this point do nothing to disrupt normal processes. Your present goal at this point is to understand normal behavior in order to gain a basis or comparison when you observe others’ reaction so your norm violation (e.g. standing and facing people in elevator). You must know what normally occurs so you can identify behaviors occurring in response to your violation-behaviors which would not have occurred in the absence of a violation.
Then you will write a description of what you did. This section should be straight narrative.
- Briefly describe the setting that is pertinent to your norm: location, time of day, number of observers, weather, age, race, sex, clothing or any other information which might indicate the social class of the observers, general mood (quiet, loud, etc.) The purpose of this is to gather any information which might tell us about the course or patterning of the observer’s responses. Also, state your partner’s name.
- Briefly describe your own behavior. How did you go about breaking the norm? How did you feel while breaking this norm?
- Describe in detail the responses of those who witnessed your norm violation. Report how these responses differ from the normal behavior you witness in one of the field work phases.
- (Most important) Discuss the power of social norms as reflected in the personal difficulty you may have experienced in purposefully violating one. Use this section could be used to consider why some norms may be easy to violate and others difficult. Does this difference depend on social sanctions?
Selection of Norm Violation
Select one of the 3 social norms listed below. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING A FOLKWAY AND NOT A MORES! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BREAK THE LAW OR STRICT FORMAL RULES, ONLY SOCIAL ONE’S.
- Violating someone’s personal space by standing too near or sitting too near while talking to them.
- Facing the people while standing in an elevator. (Make sure you make eye contact – a simple hello would be okay too.)
- Eating without utensils when required.
IMPORTANT: You simply need to break this norm, there is no need to act strange, weird or go over the top. The idea is not to make anyone thing you are disturbed, ill, or purposely trying to be different it will be enough to simply break the norm. Also, think it through, don’t put yourself in any situation that could put you in danger. And I advise you not to invade the personal space of the opposite sex who may think you are flirting with them. This will skew the results.