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Social Norms

By Madison-Hartline Sep 23, 2014 987 Words

Social Norm Violation

As soon as we are born, we begin the process of socialization, defined as the life long process of learning to become a member of society. Each society and culture has definite principles, expectation and rules. They can either be formal written laws or informal rules created by a culture. These are known as social norms. Social norms are part of the basics of culture, which we learn during primary socialization. When social norms are broken in public it typically does not go unnoticed or without reaction. In this paper I will discuss how I used ethnomethodology to understand the rules of society. In my experiment I chose to use deviance in the elevator. Specifically the elevator in my resident hall, Kirwan Tower. For a couple days when I would come back from class, I would observe social behavior in the elevator. Peoples’ behavior in the elevator was to stand facing the door. In general everyone just press their floor button, or ask others to press their floor for them. No one really made eye contact with anyone, and lots of people just looked down or at their phone until they had to get off. Other than asking what floor someone needed, there was little socialization during the elevator ride; the only people that talked were friends that had got on the elevator together. In general, I noticed what Goffman called civil inattention in the elevator. People recognized each other but were hostile, with little to none interaction. In order to violate a social norm in the elevator, I introduced myself when getting on the elevator, and tried to hold a conversation. To begin my experiment I would walk on and said hi my name is Madison, from there I pressed my floor button. If people responded from there I would try to continue the conversation. Only two responded to me introducing myself during the 4 elevator rides, one just said hi and the other introduced himself. Everyone else on the elevator had many different reactions. The first ride it was just me and one other girl. After I introduced myself she seemed very hesitant and uncomfortable, after a few seconds all she said was hi. I did not get the vibe from her that she wanted to say hi to me, but rather did it because it made her feel so uncomfortable. I tried to continue the conversation by asking how her day was, and she walked closer to the door waiting to get off. This showed me that it was uncommon to have an extensive conversation in the elevator. This girl was not used to someone trying to talk to her because interaction in the elevator was rare. On another ride where a guy responded and introduced himself, there were only a couple other people in the elevator. It was almost like he responded because he felt bad for me. You could tell it made everyone else on the elevator feel uncomfortable they tried to completely ignore me and the other kids conversation. On my other two rides there was no response to me, only reactions. There were a lot of people in these elevators. After introducing myself, people looked around seeing if anyone was going to answer. Everyone during these elevator rides sanctioned me, except the one kid I had a conversation with. In the end with that exception everyone sanctioned me in different ways. Individuals sanctioned me by ignoring me, and many people just looked at me weird and went on with their business. However the one exception to these sanctions I only believe happened because the kid felt so bad for me. You could tell trying to socialize in the elevator made everyone in it very uncomfortable but also made me really uncomfortable. Introducing myself to someone I don’t know makes me nervous anyways, but doing it in a situation where it is not a social norm made me even more uncomfortable. When getting on the elevator my heart rate was extremely high, and I was scared to randomly introduce myself. After I had introduced myself my face got really hot waiting for someone to respond. When people started looking around, I become so embarrassed and wanted to escape the situation. After not receiving a response from anyone, I got extremely antsy waiting to arrive at my 11th floor. Even when people did respond I still just felt like I was not suppose to be engaging in this activity. Using deviance made me realize a lot of different things about social norms. It made me realize that internal social control stops you from violating many of these norms because of what you believe is right or wrong in a situation. In this situation I felt like it was an inappropriate time to introduce myself, which is what stops me from violating this on a day-to-day basis. In conclusion using ethnomethodology, I was able to discover many things about social norms in society. I discovered that not only are social norms usually developed at a young age, but they are also developed from the way people interact, and what you observe in your everyday life. This is a part of becoming a member of society. If someone had never rode and elevator before they may not understand this. Another thing I learned is how much social norms dictate our social construction in everyday life. It showed me that people do not break folkway norms in society because all though there may be no punishment societal members still react in usually a negative manor. People tend to avoid situation that make other uncomfortable, this is another reason people may avoid breaking norms. In a situation with strangers such as an elevator, I learned that breaking civil inattention was a violation of a norm. Overall I learned that there are right and wrong times in our society to introduce ourselves.

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