breaking an unspoken social norm
this week’s assignment involves examining social interaction and cultural norms at the micro level by completing the following exercise (courtesy of Professor Jodi O’Brien of Seattle University, cited in Newman, 2006:130-1).
The purpose of this assignment is to illustrate the existence of everyday norms by violating the expectations associated with them. Choose ONE norm to examine and disrupt in a real-life social setting. Afterward, you will report your experience in a short essay. Following are some suggestions; you may use one of these ideas or choose a different unspoken norm you identify yourself to go out and try for this exercise.
1.Make a purchase in a department store, and offer to pay more than the listed price. Try to convince the clerk you think the item is really worth what you are offering to pay.
2.Talk to yourself in a public place.
3.Stand or sit close to a stranger, or far from a good friend or partner during the course of an ordinary conversation.
4.Dress differently from the expected attire for a particular outing/occasion–a trip to the grocery store, going to class, a night out with friends–and treat your attire as normal and appropriate for the circumstances.
5.In a restaurant, offer to pay for your meal before you order it, then order dessert first, followed by your entree, appetizer, then drinks.
Remember the goal of the assignment is to disrupt the interactional order by breaking an unspoken social norm. This works best when you act as if your behavior is completely normal and unremarkable.
If the situation permits, you should debrief the persons involved to learn how they experienced your violation of unspoken norms.
do not do something flagrantly bizarre
do not violate laws
do not seriously inconvenience or humiliate anyone
do not put yourself in danger
Report your experience in a 500-word paper. Your report should describe what you did, how people reacted, how they tried to “normalize” your behavior, how you felt about breaching this norm and why, and if you “debriefed” the people involved afterward and how they responded. Include your thoughts about what you might have done differently or how you might extend your experiment to further examine the unspoken norm you chose to study. Be sure to adhere to all requirements for written work stated in the syllabus, including proofreading to be sure your work is free of grammatical and spelling errors.
so please could you write about number 4