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Spring 2022 Soc 001 Homework 6: Breach a Social Norm As always, please obey the masking rule

NOTE: DUE FRIDAY!!! Due in Canvas Dropbox by Friday March 18 by class time p. 1


Background

and scientific relevance: Breach a social norm:
Your textbook defines deviance as “Behavior that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society.” This homework asks students to intentionally and mindfully violate a social norm. Sociologists call the intentional violation of a norm a “breach” of a norm. “Breaching” is a kind of experiment. It is a formal, time-honored method of sociological research in the sub-field of phenomenology, which is part of the interactionist perspective. With a breach, phenomenologists examine two things:

1. How people decide which norms are appropriate in a situation

2. How people decide to react when a norm is broken.

Interactionists think that research subjects, when confronted with a breach, quickly do three things:

1. They quickly assess whether the behavior that just occurred is, in fact, appropriate in that specific situation.

2. They quickly then decide whether a reaction (their reaction) is necessary.

3. They then quickly choose an appropriate reaction and react (or not).

A well-executed breach demonstrates several things:

1. Research subjects are thinking about the people around them all the time, at least a little bit.

2. No norm is “written in stone,” but, rather, norms depend on the situation.

3. There is no “natural” reaction to a breach; instead, subjects choose how to react. Such reactions are neither “automatic” nor “inherent” in humans, but socially constructed and chosen.

4. Overall, both the norms in effect and the reaction to breaches depend on the situation. More on this next time.

I. Submission process: Please turn in to the Canvas drop box for “Homework 6.” No emailed or printed or handwritten or any other format of papers will be accepted other than those in the Canvas dropbox.

II. This is an individual project. Everyone must breach and turn in their own paper about their experience. Please turn in one paper per person. I encourage you to work together in groups for moral support. But everyone must breach on their own, individually (or at least try to – you don’t have to). Everyone must write up their papers individually and turn them in to Canvas individually.

III. Due date: Papers are due to the Canvas drop box by Friday 3/18/22 at class time.

IV. Format: Papers should be at least 250 words: A minimum of 1 full page, typed double-spaced with a 12- point font and normal, 1-inch margins. There is no maximum length, and longer papers are fine.

Please



number



your



answers

A, B, C, D, E.i., E.ii., and E.iii. (questions appear on the other side of this paper).

V. The assignment: In a nutshell: The purpose of this project is to give you experience with what it’s like to breach – to intentionally and mindfully violate a norm. In this assignment, you are instructed to breach, and then to observe people’s reactions. Answer questions A through E.iii. Please number your answers A, B, C, D, E.i., E.ii, E.iii.

The instructions are simple. For ideas, see the appendix on p. 3 for a list of successful breaches.

1. State a norm of behavior that you think exists.

2. Then, violate that norm where your violation can be seen/heard/etc. by other people.

3. Receive a negative (or positive) reaction. This is critical. Reactions may be subtle so please be alert.

4. If no one notices, you have not violated a norm. Try again in some other situation, or choose a different breach.

5. Observe the reaction and describe it in your writeup.

6. Write up a description of the breach and describe how you felt before, during and after your breach.

Spring 2022 Soc 001 Homework 6: Breach a Social Norm As always, please obey the masking rule

NOTE: DUE FRIDAY!!! Due in Canvas Dropbox by Friday March 18 by class time p. 2

Please follow these steps. Answer questions A through E.iii.

Please number your answers A, B, C, D, E.i., E.ii, E.iii.

A. Formulate a hypothesis about the existence of a cultural norm regarding your role. For example, if you are a girl who chooses to burp loudly in public, write: “I hypothesize that girls are expected not to burp loudly in public.” Write down the hypothesis and number it “A.”

B. What will be your breach? That is, how will you violate this norm and test your hypothesis? For example: “B. To demonstrate support for this hypothesis, I (a girl) will burp loudly in the HUB Starbucks, and observe people for positive or negative reactions. A negative reaction will support my hypothesis. A positive reaction will refute my hypothesis.”

C. Breach this norm.
Immediately

after

your

breach

, please write notes about the experience. Number your answer “C. To breach, I belched loudly in my big physics lecture.”

D. What was the reaction of your naïve subject(s) to your breaching a norm? “D. People smiled, but a couple girls made disgusted faces.” If you were not able to breach, here is where you briefly describe why.

E. If you were able to breach, please describe how you felt…

i.

Before you breached? (Label this “E.i.” so we know what we’re looking at when we grade it.)

ii.

During the breach? (Label this “E.ii.”)

iii.

Immediately after you breached? (Label this “E.iii.”)

General tips:

•

You are encouraged to work with someone. This is good for moral support and can be fun.

•

Everyone must try to breach (or explain why you could not) and everyone must write up the experience.

•



It



is

fine
if you cannot breach. Say you lose your “nerve,” etc. That’s ok. My wife, for example, simply cannot do a breach, not if her life literally depended on it. Please simply write up steps A. through D. and, if possible, E.i. This will not affect your grade in any way. Please note we are not talking about “I didn’t budget enough time to do homework” here. We’re talking something like “I realized I am a very moral person!”

VI. Grading: 60% of the grade is automatic just for doing the breach (or not) and writing up your experience. 20% is based on how well you follow the instructions, and 20% depends on the overall quality of the writeup, compared to other students in your section. Even if you don’t breach, you may still receive full credit as long as you describe the factors that prevented you from breaching (and we find these factors acceptable).

Warnings:


1)

Please

do

not

violate

any

laws

or

policies.

Ifin

doubt,

don’t

do

it!

Do

not

violate

laws

or

mores.

Violate

only

folkways.


2)

Please

don’t

do

anything

mean

or

stupid

(like

insulting

someone

or

slamming

on

your

brakes

in

the

middle

of

traffic).


3)

Do

not

harm

anyone,

damage

anyone’s

physical

or

psychological

health,

or

any

relationship.

If you do abandon your breach because you realize it’s illegal, mean, stupid or dangerous, pick something more reasonable and try again.

Appendix: Ideas for breaches

Ideas for breaches. Many of these have been used by past students and have worked well. Whatever you do, make sure someone sees you do it! And try to figure out if they react, and what their reaction is.

• Girls order “guy” food.

• Guys order “girl” food.

• Text your friends: “Hey, anyone want to have a Zoom sing-a-long?”

• Ask your roommate: “Can I borrow your toothbrush?” or “Got any spare underwear I could wear?”

• Stop answering texts from your mom (Beware: cops have been called for this one .)

• Go to McDonalds and order Taco Bell.

• Haggle over the price of an apple at McClanahan’s (“That’ll be $1, sir.” “I’ll give you 20 cents.”)

• Fill up a mayo jar with vanilla pudding and let people see you eat it with a big spoon.

• Walk backward down College, or on the “wrong” side of the sidewalk.

• Pay it forward (at Starbucks, eg).

• Offer someone your place in line at the cafeteria (ymmv, this may not be a breach in your dorm).

• Say “your soooooo good lookin’!” to a cashier instead of “Thank you.”

• Ask a stranger if you can read them a poem (be sure to have one selected in case they say yes and sparks fly).

• Please no drinking, blazing (smoking weed), etc.: If you do this in front of your friends, it breaches precisely zero norms! If you do it in front of a cop, it’s straight-up illegal! And

thus it would be out of bounds for this assignment.

And to reiterate the warnings:

Warnings:



1)

Please

do

not

violate

any

laws

or policies.

Ifin

doubt,

don’t

do

it!

Do

not

violate

laws

or

mores.

Violate

only

folkways.


2)

Please

don’t

do

anything

mean

or

stupid

(like

insulting

someone

or

slamming

on

your

brakes

in

the

middle

of

traffic).


3)

Do

not

harm

anyone,

damage

anyone’s

physical

or

psychological

health,

or

any

relationship.

For example, one student slammed on his brakes on a busy highway. Don’t do this.

Another student ignored texts from his girlfriend. For the entire weekend. Don’t do this. (She dumped him.)