Examination of a Social Norm Essay

As I mentioned in class today, you will have a choice of two essay possibilities for this next week. Please choose one of the following two:

This writing assignment asks you to identify some kind of social norm and then examine that norm based on the seven criteria we talked about during lecture. Here are those seven criteria:

1. To what extent is the norm known and recognized?
2. What is the mode of transmission? How do we learn about the norm?
3. How much have people internalized the norm?
4. How much and how often do we conform to the norm?
5. Does the norm apply equally to all groups?
6. Is the norm severely or lightly enforced?
7. What is the mode and consistency of enforcement?

Please be clear about what specific norm you have identified and then examine that norm along each of those seven criteria. Your write up should be between 700-900 words. Submit your finished documents to Canvas before 9am, Friday, January 25th.

This writing assignment requires you to conduct a breaching experiment and write up your findings.

The written document you submit must have two parts:

For the first part, I want you to describe your breach in as much hard-boiled detail as you can. This is the “who, what, where, when” part of your assignment. Who did what? What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen? How did it happen? In other words, how did you create some trouble in a familiar scene of life? That’s what you should describe for Part I.

For the second part, I want you to discuss how other people responded to your breach of the norm. How did others sanction you — or not? What kinds of tactics did others use to let you know your behavior was “out of line” and/or not customary for what is expected in that social environment? Why do you think they used those tactics and not others?

The first and second parts of this assignment must each be between 350-450 words. That means the total length of this assignment = 700-900 words. Submit your finished documents to Canvas before 9am, Friday, January 25th.

Here is a link to an article that provides a tidy summary about the methods and goals of breaching experiments: http://wiredcosmos.com/2012/06/07/sociology-in-action-the-breaching-experiment (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

For the breaching experiment, you can work with a partner. One of you can be the person who conducts the breach, and the other person can record people’s reactions to the breach. If you are working with a partner who is also enrolled in this class, make sure you indicate that fact in your written response. You can work with only one other partner, and both of you must individually submit the essay.

**Remember, if you decide to conduct a breaching experiment, do not do anything illegal. That is critically important, because a good breach does not hurt anybody or do damage to property, etc, etc. Breaches are done in the spirit of “serious play.”**

**I also encourage you to review the assigned reading by Harold Garfinkel, “Studies of the Routine Grounds for Everyday Activities.”

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