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3 pages/≈825 words
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Social Sciences
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English (U.S.)
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Violating Cultural Norms: American Culture (Term Paper Sample)


During this semester you have been violating cultural norms and posting these to the discussion board. Now we have a large number of experiences for you to consider. For this assignment, you will be reflecting on what these tell us about American culture.

STEP ONE: Read through all of the submissions. Think about comparisons, contrasts, and possible over-arching themes as you go through them.

As a reminder, each student was tasked with answering the following questions:

1) What was the context? What did you do? How did you feel while doing this?

2) What was the reaction?

3) What does this cultural norm reflect?

STEP TWO: Choose your sample/topic. You may choose to use all of the submissions, or you may choose to use a subset of them to include in your discussion. As you read them, you will notice that they can group in a variety of ways by topics and/or outcomes (i.e., stranger etiquette, personal space, turn-taking, behavior with friends/family, table manners, time efficiencies, and others).

STEP THREE: Think about what these tell you about American culture. This should be more than “Americans have rules” or “it is not nice to be impolite.” Your goal should be to step back from American culture and look at these submissions as an outsider might see it. What does it tell you about Americans? What do we value? Why? Also keep in mind that the following parts of the submission are important for you to consider:

- the context (what might be ok in one context might not in another)

- social position (age, gender, family role, customer, worker, etc.)

- how the person felt violating the norm (because you all violated the norms in your own culture, how doing this made you feel is a valuable piece for analyzing what it means for American society)

- the reactions (all the same? different? varying degrees of the same? what influences these reactions? etc.) 

STEP FOUR: Write your paper. This is a thinking paper, so you will need to demonstrate your process. Which submissions did you use? How do these specific examples compare and contrast? What patterns do you see? What does it tell you about American culture?

Nuts and bolts:

- no more than 3 pages double-spaced (seriously); 12 pt. font

- one inch margins, and, for my sanity, please staple your pages together

- grammar, spelling, references, and all that jazz, definitely matter


Violating cultural norms
Norms are expectations and rules acceptable to a culture which are used to guide the conduct of its members in any given circumstance. Norms mainly vary across different cultures around the world whereby what is seen as culturally acceptable in one society may be culturally unacceptable in another. Sociologists identify four kinds of norms which include mores, laws folkways, and taboos. Folkways are behavioral values that are socially acceptable, but not morally important, and mores are morality norms. Taboos are actions that are culturally forbidden, and some taboos tend to be enacted into laws. Laws are a recognized body of guidelines passed by the state and supported by the authority of the country. Members of culture have to conform to its norms so that the culture can exist and function well.
The norms of personal space and public behavior are very interesting to read and know the reactions that they bring forth on both the violator of the norm and the people who experience it. In the American culture there are some unspoken but expected rules that should be followed just like in any other culture, (Higgs, and Suzanne). When these norms are violated, then they can result in anger, awkwardness and even violence in some extreme situations. There is a way that everyone in the society has to behave, and this behavior is not taught anywhere, but people grow up with it, and therefore it is the usual way in the culture. Invading a stranger's personal space for example through showing intimate gesture like hugging, the individual will be confused and wonder what is happening. Walking on the wrong side of a sidewalk also makes the public to be confused and have many questions.
In most cases of violation of cultural norms, the people around always try to look at others around them for information,(Higgs, and Suzanne). The need for information comes since they try to understand the situation and also, they want to know if other people also think that the situation is out of place. Some norms are enjoyable to violate as they show how the general public reacts to some situations that are out of what is normal. Cultural norms are firmly embedded into members of the society, however m

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