Non Social Norms Essay

Breaking Norms Essay

In Society, there are folkways, mores, and laws all governing a society, yet they all share one basic foundation. This foundation is seen universally and is nearly engrained in our minds. These are norms. Norms are the shared expectations of behavior that is for a specific culture. Norms are very similar to values, yet values are society’s expectations on how to live life rather than what is acceptable behavior in social environments. Morals come into discussion too with virtue, as morals are what is right or wrong, as defined by the culture. Every culture shares different norms. For example, Muslim women in Afghanistan must cover their faces when walking in public, yet in America we do not understand this as this is not one of our norms. Norms are generally created over many years for a culture and are hard to understand or relate to if we are not part of that culture. This leads us to culture shock when entering other cultures. If we were suddenly placed in another culture without any transition and did not understand their norms, we would encounter culture shock. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum comes folkways, mores, and laws. These come when we understand and have a familiar understanding of the culture. Folkways are traditional norms that govern our behavior, but do not have a moral factor. An example of a folkway would be to hold the elevator for a person. A mores is a deeply held informal norm and has a moral enforcement. An example of this would be to not touch strangers. The most formal norms would be laws, as they are what is expected legally of society and have repercussions. A taboo is similar to laws as a taboo is extremely strict norms and are looked down upon from the rest of society, yet are not legally enforced. An example of this would be incest. When viewing norms in America, a particular one stood out to me. Opposite sex couples are supposed to be seen in public as being intimate, while same sex couples are thought of as hidden.
For my experiment on breaking norms, I chose to break multiple norms all in one experiment. My experiment was to see how people at the mall reacted when my guy friend and I held hands while walking together. Not only did I hold a man’s hand, but he is also African-American. My experiment broke the norm of the interracial couples dating each other. This experiment also broke the social norm that opposite sex couples are supposed to show affection in public rather than same sex couples. Although same sex couples and marriages have become more accepted in the United States, it is still a very controversial issue that has led to split results of opinion polls. In one study performed by the Gallup Organization, about 52% of Americans support same sex marriage, while 43% of Americans oppose same sex marriage. This has changed significantly over the years, as the same study was performed in 2001, yet showed only 35% of Americans supporting same sex marriages (Study:...

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In terms of events that "break" social norms and how people will react to them, each circumstance is different.

For example, allowing cell phones in restaurant, when it began, was a break with the social norm. Most people would go out to dinner to relax and enjoy a meal cooked away from home, and often the companionship of friends. Loud and rowdy drunks were frowned upon, as were screaming children and rude and/or obnoxious groups...

In terms of events that "break" social norms and how people will react to them, each circumstance is different.

For example, allowing cell phones in restaurant, when it began, was a break with the social norm. Most people would go out to dinner to relax and enjoy a meal cooked away from home, and often the companionship of friends. Loud and rowdy drunks were frowned upon, as were screaming children and rude and/or obnoxious groups of people...generally in a nice restaurant (as opposed to a fast-food place). However, now people bring their cell phones with them. The phones may ring continuously or conversation may be so loud that it makes it difficult to enjoy your meal. I have seen and heard about different reactions. Some people ask to be moved to another location; some people will leave the restaurant and not order dinner. Sometimes, people find the behavior so unbearable that they say something to the other diner.

Another situation we have seen are the no-smoking laws that have been enforced across the country. This has been very difficult for smokers, who may have tried to quit or find smoking relaxing. For those of us who do not smoke, it is a relief, but it creates a struggle on the part of smokers. Some smokers have reacted with anger and frustration.

If you are looking for a potential problem within society, tell a nation that guns are no longer legal, or abortions are banned. The uprising would be fierce and furious. People feel very strongly about some things. The nation is already divided on these two issues, but changing the laws to favor one stance over another would result in wide-spread protest, and perhaps even violence.

Looking to the past and our country's decision to make slavery illegal ripped the country apart and caused a war: it needed to be done, but it divided not only the nation, but families as well. When young men started to be drafted into the Vietnam War, there were nationwide protests, young men and/or their families moved to Canada to avoid going to war, and the nation was divided as to the necessity and the ethical reasoning to become involved in that particular "war." This, too, destroyed families and turned the public against the government.

All of these examples provide instances of broken social norms. I believe that you could write a paragraph about any of them, if you have knowledge of the difficulty (some background/research) so that you can support your position with specific examples to promote your viewpoint.

You may want to write a persuasive essay, if your teacher wants you to convince him or her, or an informational essay which reports the facts. See the links provided for more information to these kinds of writings for essays.

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