Social Norm Violation: Essay

Words: 1598
Topic: Sociology
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Introduction: Norm Violation in Sociology

Social norms are changing with every new era. What was typical a hundred years ago is not acceptable nowadays. Some standards have been around for a while, and it is as usual for us as breathing.

For instance, public restrooms are separate for women and men. Of course, different situations may appear. Just pure confusion can be an excuse. However, no well-behaved gentleman would enter a ladies’ room intentionally or without permission.

In sociology, norm violation is described as deviant behavior. Norms are the widely accepted social rules that people agree to follow. They manage society’s behavior. People seem to notice norm violations easier than identify the regulations. Some norms are valid across the cultures, but some are unique and only exist in small communities.

To test my hypothesis, I have conducted a field experiment. I chose to use a men’s restroom instead of the lady’s one. The aim is to observe and analyze men’s reactions when they see a woman in the toilet for men.

As an outcome, one can see how ready people are to deal with norm violations. There are two main possible reactions: people would try to correct my behavior or ignore it. The latter suggests that people tend to avoid facing social norm violations when it doesn’t affect them.

In this part of the norm violation paper, I assume the examples of people’s behavior. In the next stage, they are tested via an experiment.

The outcome of this experiment would highlight the level of readiness with which people point out unacceptable behavior. It would also show that those people are not afraid to counteract a strange person to teach them the most straightforward rules. This social norm violation essay describes the experiment and its outcomes.

Research Methodology

To make the results as correct as possible, I have chosen different locations and times to conduct the experiment. It was essential to select the public restrooms, the attendance rate of which would be high. It allowed me to collect enough data for the analysis.

The experiment itself was quite easy. All I had to do is enter the men’s restroom and observe the reaction. The first objective was to check whether men would notice me. It shows how attentive people are to others during rush hours in public places.

Next, I would notice whether they make an attempt to show me the correct door. The willingness to help might give some ideas about how people react to the norm violation. However, it might create some doubts about the origins of their reaction connected to their personal space. There may be two reasons why they ignore me breaking into the wrong restroom (if they do): their personal space is so broad that they genuinely don’t care, or their boundaries are tights, and they prefer not to deal with strangers.

The last observation relates to the attitude of the witnesses. There is a possibility that someone might act rather aggressively. It would suggest that they see the violation of this social norm as something highly negative.

Finally, the last objective concerns the time that people are willing to spend explaining my mistake to me. Since I preferred rather busy hours, this aspect appears to be valuable.

I chose to visit the central shopping mall on Monday and Thursday for this activity. During the mornings of Tuesday and Friday, as well as weekend afternoons, I went to the central park. The time this experiment took me was 20 minutes per day on average. The following results derive from the notes I took every day after the test.

Results

This experiment was quite informal. In this culture, dividing restrooms according to gender is a social norm. Entering the wrong side by mistake is not a crime. However, it is understandable that in some people, it might be a taboo, according to their cultural norms.

The most typical reaction was a subtle confusion without any following comments. It seems like men realized that I might have chosen the wrong door. However, they would leave in a rush or prefer not to enter (after opening the door and seeing a woman inside).

It indicates that most people choose not to face the norm violation. They either escape it or try not to notice. Another possible addition to this behavior might be that men tried to be polite and let me understand the mistake by myself.

The most reasonable explanation would be that men found themselves in a sudden and unexpected situation. They didn’t know how to react and preferred not to confront the challenge.

Mostly, men were surprised by my presence. There was only one time when I noticed rude behavior. No aggressive actions against me were undertaken, so I didn’t feel insecure. However, that man wasn’t using a polite tone. He was obviously irritated, and he told me that I used the wrong restroom.

Only a few people tried to point out my mistake. Two men commented on my social norm violation by saying that I might have chosen the wrong door. One man wondered whether I needed help with anything. From the three other men, I didn’t hear any questions. They straightforwardly asked me to leave because it wasn’t the ladies’ room.

In all the remaining cases, men were looking at me without saying anything. Some of them could gesticulate, smile, or express their amusement by other means. I didn’t notice any signs of disrespect shown towards me, nor there was physical contact.

Discussion: The Consequences of Social Norm Violation

In this breaking social norms essay conclusion, some aspects of the experiment are analyzed, and the consequences of violation for me and others are discussed.

While conducting this experiment, I had second thoughts. Even with the predicted scenarios of behavior, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In psychology, this feature of the mind is described as mispredicting. People usually tend to underestimate or overestimate things.

The main fear was that I would meet an aggressive attitude during the experiment. However, after a few days of a rather typical outcome, the hedonic adaptation let my fears step back. Moreover, I was excited to see the results.

First of all, I felt insecure and ashamed. My behavior was showing me as a person not capable of distinguishing men’s restrooms from the ladies’ room. However, as mentioned above, I was getting more and more used to it.

It is partially explainable by my adaptation to it as a new situation. After several repetitions, anything can be perceived as a usual situation. However, there is another side related to sociology.

There was no criticism and aggression towards such a norm violation. It helped me to feel more comfortable with the situation that used to be strange and unacceptable for me before.

Therefore, it can indicate that in the circumstances similar to these, there is a shift of social and moral values. With no punishment or negative feedback, the constant repetition of norm violation would make some changes in the perception. It becomes no more than a casual behavior.

Even though men were giving me some weird looks, usually they kept minding their own business. It shows that people tend to prefer their time and private space over correcting other’s social behavior in person.

This norm violation paper for a sociology essay is an excellent example of how personalized and selfish our society is becoming. Cooperation between people living in one community stepped back. Instead, personal space and distancing from each other took its place. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that only teamwork would help people survive as a society.

Norm Violation FAQ

❓ What is the norm in sociology?

A norm in sociology is a set of universal rules that a specific society chooses to follow in order to keep the peace. Some of them are dictated by law, but some are just generally accepted. Norms allow people to understand the behavior of others and act appropriately. They bring clarity into the relationships making it easier to communicate.

❓ What are the examples of social norms?

Some examples of social norms that are recognized in most cultures are shaking hands and keeping distance with strangers to show respect. Most of the norms are related to showing respect to other people and their privacy. For instance, apologizing for the inconvenience or covering the mouth when sneezing is universal. Some of them are also related to gender.
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❓ What is a norm violation?

A norm violation is a behavior that is recognized as inappropriate, and the one that breaks the social norms. Usually, it is easier to identify this behavior than the rules themselves. One of the explanations is that breaking the norm triggers the reaction of society. The lack of knowledge can lead to a violation of norms that go without saying.
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❓ What is a Folkway violation?

A folkway violation is a violation of folkways, which are usually known as customs. Those social norms are rules of behavior accepted by society. Mainly, there is no punishment. However, opposed to mores, they don’t carry a significant moral value. A set of norms people tend to follow while sitting at the dinner table can be called a folkway.

❓ How do you challenge social norms?

As the practice shows, it is not hard to challenge social norms. In fact, some of them can even be changed. What you need to do is to choose a social norm and try to act against it. However, be ready to face some rough reactions. If you decide to break a rule, make sure it is not illegal.

References

Plato.stanford.edu. 2018. Social Norms (Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy). [online]

LaMorte, W., n.d. Social Norms Theory. [online] Sphweb.bumc.bu.edu.

Young, H., 2007. Social Norms And Public Policy. [online] Brookings.

Vetoviolence.cdc.gov. n.d. Social Norms | Vetoviolence. [online]

Heise, L. and Manji, K., 2016. Social Norms – GSDRC. [online] GSDRC.

Soc.washington.edu. n.d. Collective Efficacy And Norm Violation | Department Of Sociology | University Of Washington. [online]

Holzwarth, A., 2020. Social Norms Can Spread Like A Virus. [online] Forbes.

Mcleod, S., 2008. Social Roles And Social Norms | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org.

Dimant, E., Bicchieri, C. and Xiao, E., 2018. Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment. SSRN Electronic Journal.