Breaking a Norm

Topics: Merriam-Webster, Convention, Norm Pages: 3 (1189 words) Published: October 11, 2011
In our lives there are certain norms that we should uphold within our society. Whether petty or significant, these norms are a large basis for many of the ways we act, think and live. For this paper, I was given an assignment to go out and take on a challenging experiment to break a norm, detail my experience and record the reactions of observers. I figured what better setting to break a norm than downtown Atlanta at the Five Points Marta Station where there are a mixture of lots and lots of people to obtain reactions from. A norm, which is defined as a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulates proper and acceptable behavior (Webster dictionary, 2008). Within our culture, these norms are based on a general agreement of what are accepted as normal actions or mannerisms to the whole society. Before I began this experiment, I felt nervous and a bit antsy. I went and performed my norm violation on an elevator at the Five Points Marta Station in downtown Atlanta around 4:40 pm on a cold, windy evening as I was on my way home from class. The observers were quite diverse from different backgrounds and subcultures (black, Hispanic & white) comprised of school students and people coming from and going to work, going to other appointments or running errands and such. I got on and stood in the back of the elevator. I remained in the elevator for approximately 15-20 minutes going from Westbound to Northbound (up and down) entertaining different groups of observers getting on and off the elevator. I figured that I would be best off staying in the elevator for the time; this way there could be enough time for the appropriate variety of responses to the odd elevator behavior I was displaying. During that time I began talking into my pinky and thumb as though it was a cell phone. I held two conversations with myself in English and Spanish mixing it up. Unfortunately, I'm not fluent in Spanish, but I took advantage...

References: Vinthagen, S. (2009). Breaking the unwritten laws of a community: Norms, everyday resistance
and change
Journal - Eastern Edition, 241.5 (2003): B1--1.
In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved January 24, 2011, from
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