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Sociology 110 Break a Norm Exercise Research Assignment (Research Paper Sample)


Each culture and subculture has norms for behavior, or expected ways of behaving. Although we often think of deviance as something that’s malicious or harmful, deviant actions can simply be confusing to observers or perhaps even humorous. Reactions from observers can range from covert stares to barely concealed laughter or a stinging verbal remark. These sanctions are meant to keep us from engaging in deviant behavior, but our own discomfort is frequently enough of a deterrent.
With a co-conspirator, select a social norm to violate. This social norm should be a folkway. Folkways are social norms that are part of one’s cultural customs but violations are deemed humorous, curious, eccentric, “accidental”, or perhaps annoying. Folkways also depend heavily upon context. Carrying an open umbrella inside violates a social norm, but carrying an open umbrella outside when it is raining is following the social norms.
Your co-conspirator may be another student from the class, a friend, significant other, roommate, family member, or other willing person.
If you select another student from this class as your co-conspirator, both will need to engage in the deviant role as well as the co-conspirator’s role. It is not sufficient for your co-conspirator to engage in the deviant act. You will also need to submit separate papers. These papers MUST not be identical even if you both choose the same social norm. If you do choose the same norm, you are welcome to compare and contrast both experiences.
While you are violating the norm, your co-conspirator will observe others’ reactions and responses. (Your co-conspirator is also useful in the very rare case that someone becomes frightened because of your behavior.) After the event, you and your co-conspirator should discuss the various reactions to your deviance. Did people stare? Did they try to pretend that they didn’t see you? Did anyone make any verbal remarks to you? Did anyone seem confused by your behavior or unsure how to respond to your behavior?


The non-invasive breaching experiment I did in the mall was to wink at everyone I came across whether young or old. Primarily, this process took longer than I had anticipated because I had only thought that I would spend 3 to 4 hours. I had gone to the nearby beach, in the afternoon, but I had not realized that most of the people there would be lying down enjoying the cool breeze. Thus, the environment was not ideal for the experiment since I did not receive much attention. After that shock, I had no option but to move to another location and that is why I decided to go to the mall. At some point I changed my tactics and engaged people in a conversation to make the whole process interesting. This included making eye contact and then wink at them before ending the conversation just to leave them digesting what had happened. Some thought that I could not speak English because I heard one of them saying: “how can I help you” or “Is everything ok”. Generally, doing weird acts can make people believe that one is rude or those who do not know you well may end up taking legal action in case you do something that is extreme. While I was interacting with the crowd, my friend was recording people’s reactions which included both verbal and nonverbal gestures.
It is also wise to note that everyone involved in this process used body language to show that they were amused by whatever I was doing. Interestingly, none of my subjects requested me to stop or said I was distracting them in any way. The experiment group included university students, shopkeepers, sales representatives and other buyers in the mall. Before deciding on whether to conduct this experiment, I was not certain that I would get people’s attention but the reaction was quite hilarious. For instance, I got weird looks from people, probably because they had not experienced that before. Further still, those who were busy using their

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