Break the norm social experiment

SOC-101-Introduction to Sociology

Assignment (50 points)

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Break a Norm


Break a norm in public and judge the reactions of others. When faced with other’s expectations about our own behavior, we generally do what is expected of us. In this case, you should do something different from what others expect.


Be safe. This rule trumps all other rules. ****

You must violate the norm alone (no one else can be violating it with you). However, you can have a friend watch you and make observations.

Break a folkway or informal mores—do NOT break a law.****

The behavior you choose may be non-normative across our culture or a small group (like your family)

You many not harm anyone, including yourself. This includes getting yourself in trouble. It also includes intentionally humiliating someone else. ****

You may NOT intentionally disrupt any classes. ****

Only break one norm at a time. While violating the norm, act totally normally in every other way.

Do something you wouldn’t normally do.


Your paper should be 3-4 pages in length, typed in 12pt Times New Roman font (including punctuation!) and double-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides.

Your textbook and ancillary materials, provided by me, are the only references you will need for this assignment. Nonetheless, your textbook and those supplemental materials I provide are references and thus, must be properly cited with in-text citations (when appropriate) as well as listed, in proper format, at the end of your paper on the works cited/references page (subheading depends on the format you choose to use).

Submit your completed paper to Blackboard.

The following format is to be followed as you write up this exercise. Please note that this is a skeletal outline and is intended to help you decide what information to include in your report. Be sure to cover each of these points in your paper, but don’t feel that you are limited to them. Elaborate, offer details, and be creative where you can.

Before breaking a norm:

Define the norm you will violate.

Describe briefly how this norm acts as a mechanism of social control.

Describe what you will do to violate this norm.

Describe the range of possible reactions others will have to the violation of this norm.

What do you predict the major reaction will be?

Breaking a norm:

Describe the setting

Physical—where is the norm violation taking place?

Social—How many and what types of persons are observing?

Describe the incident—tell what happened.

Summary and analysis: Reflecting on the exercise

How did you feel as you were violating the norm?

Why did you feel the way you did?

Did people react the way you expected? Explain.

Did you encounter any difficulties in carrying out your assignment?

What, if anything, did you learn about how folkways exercise social control?

Any other observations

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