Breaking Cultural Norms: Experimental Research Rick Neese SOC1001 S05: Introduction to Sociology Oct 20, 2011 Sheila Farr Breaking Cultural Norms: Experimental Research In my research of breaking a culture norm, I will break the culture norms of just randomly sitting with strangers, and breaking culture norms in a department store. In my research of sitting with strangers I will go to a restaurant, public library, and a park.
In my research in breaking culture norms in a department store I am going to start singing loud, looking at what people have in their shopping cart and commenting on it, and randomly stop and start exercising in the isles. My research will be used to show the reactions to people around me and how I felt breaking the cultural norm In my first experiment I went to a local fast food chain. After ordering and receiving my food I looked around and found a couple having lunch together. I went to their table and sit down with my food.
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The guy looked at me and just asked what the —-, whereas the girl kind of slid over in her chair toward the window. After a few minutes and realizing I was not going to move, the couple still watching me eat, started talking again. As I sit there and listened for an opening to join in the chat, they would ever so lightly turn to watch what I was doing. When I found my opening to join the talk, I was surprised at what happened. As I started chatting with them they seemed cool with me being there now and would actually direct chat toward me also.
After I got done eating and a few minutes of chatting I then explained what I was doing and why I was doing it. They laughed and said they were glad that they could help. As to how I felt, with me being free-spirited and crazy anyway I had no unusual feelings to sitting with strangers. In my next experiment I was at a well-known department store. I was able to conduct several different experiments in just one visit. The first experiment I conducted I would randomly start singing out loud. First time I was just entering the store where people coming in also as well as ones hecking out could see and hear. I got a lot of mixed reactions in doing this at this location in the store. Some of the people turned to look and then turn and carry on with what they were doing. Some of them looked at me like I was crazy and needed to be committed while others laughed and some didn’t even pay any attention. After getting to the back of the store I broke out singing again. This time I was looked at by others to see what I was doing or going to do and some would laugh and go back to what they were doing while others actually requested a song.
Some again also looked at me like I needed to be committed to an insane asylum. Again being free-spirited I had no weird feelings doing this and actually granted some of the request if I knew the song, while saying all donations where greatly accepted. I made 6 dollars. I never let on to anyone around or explain that this is a research experiment. My next experiment was to just break out and start exercising. When going down an isle I would drop and start doing push-ups. The first instance I had people stop and start counting, while others would just keep moving and go about their business.
Not being able to really see their face I couldn’t see what they might be thinking. This made me realize I needed to do an exercise I could stand up for. I went to another isle on the other side of the store to try again. When I found an isle that had several people in it and me being in one of the main isles I started doing jumping jacks. This was really fun to watch this time. The people that were around again had mixed reactions. I had some count, some join in, and some seemed to be talking under their breath saying something I thought I heard “what is he on or taking”.
The one thing I found is in both instances people had a different reaction on both sides either “he is having fun or he is crazy”. In this experiment I was having fun and started enjoying the research more for fun than the assignment itself. Again, I never let on to anyone around or explain that this is a research experiment. My next experiment was at the public library. It took me several attempts at doing this one. I would go and get a book to act like I was reading, that was close to what my prey was reading. Once I got the book and went to the table where they were sitting and set next to them.
My prey shifted their chair over a little as to move away from me. I sat there acting as if I was reading to let things seem natural. After a period of 5-10 minutes I started to ask my prey questions. They just seemed to look at me with a look of what are you doing and why are you asking me about this. I again asked them the same question on my second attempt to the question I got an answer “Not to sound rude, I can’t answer that for you, I am not familiar with what you are asking. You should read the book and take notes as you read so you can get your answers”.
I said thank you and then explained what I was doing. They then looked up at me as I was getting up to leave and said good luck on the assignment and glad they could be of assistance, and a thank you from me. In sitting with strangers in a park, the research showed a reaction I was expecting. Once I sat down with my prey they slid over to the far end of the bench. I made no attempt to slide toward them but did turn to look at them. Once they noticed me looking at them they asked “is there something I can do for you” I said no just sitting here.
My prey then asked if I could go sit on the other bench, I was making then uncomfortable. I then told them of my experiment and apologized to them for making them feel uncomfortable and thanked them for their assistance in my research. In my finding of breaking the social norm, people have many different reactions. Some people laugh, some just look at you like your crazy, some join in, and some don’t even pay attention to you. As most of my deviance was merely a primary deviance according to Lemert (1951, 1972) as most was just a passing reaction to my deviance.
But there was an instance where my deviance became secondary because of reactions I was getting made me keep breaking the rules of norm. The one thing I did find interesting in my research is in public, there is a lot of changes to social norms than the days when I was growing up. With the things I did to break the social norm at an adult age, years ago I would have been asked to leave the store or had someone come to me from the store to find out if I had been drinking or was taking illegal drugs.
Today’s society has become more accepting to breaking the norm. As for sitting with strangers, I expected to get the reaction I did. This is still a deviance of social norm with a reaction that hasn’t changed over the years from when I was considered college age. References (Macionis. Society: The Basics eBook for Education Management Corporation, 10th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions p. 183). <vbk:0558563139#outline(11. 4. 2. 1)>