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Sociology - group experiment - Essay Example

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Sociology - group experiment

Immediately almost everyone's attention was turned to us, the pace at which people danced slowed down. Some people looked directly at us and others stared at us through the corner of their eye. 2 couples left the dance floor and the rest continued looking at us either directly or indirectly and were obviously talking about what we were trying to do or our reason for doing this. When the song ended we left the dance floor and nobody approached us later to ask what we were doing.
Our basic assumption was that those in the dance floor would expect us to be dancing to the tune of the song being played. Perhaps, they thought, they would have other party goers which they can grind with and show their dance moves. Maybe we were even interested in becoming acquaintances. We assumed that talking and drinking in the dance floor would have the impression of unusualness that would reveal their expectations regarding our assumed behavior.
The theoretical and academic framework underlying the breaching experiment is the sociological field of ethnomethodology. It is the study of the way in which people maintain the present social order. It is a contrast to the belief that human behavior is caused by external causal factors or internalized motivations.
According to Brinkerhoff, White, Ortega and Weitz (2006), Ethnomethodology stresses that active reason and knowledgeable character of human conduct are the forces that control our social behavior. Harold Garfinkel of the well known musical duo Simon and Garfunkel established a school of ethnomethodology in the 1960, at a time when the structuralism/functionalism was the dominant theory in the field. Garfinkel conducted experiments to prove that the crucial thing governing social exchange were common sense understandings that were unstable and are recreated every day in each social interaction (Bremmer, 2006) .
What Garfinkel did was to perform a series of breaching experiments which broke the accepted rules of a social situation. For example, he planned that some students in a group would cheat at tic-tac-toe. According to the structuralists, social order would have broken down, however, the students incorporated the cheating into the rules and continued playing showing that understandings are recreated every day (Bremmer, 2006). It is the intent of this student to perform a breaching experiment on his peers in an attempt to observe this phenomenon.

This experiment shows that if behavior is not what would be expected and if that behavior would likely impede that goal, friction will arise as was the case in this experiment. In the case of the activity that we conducted, the people dancing in the dance floor seemed not to have a care in the world and were only concerned with the way they and their partners were dancing. My colleagues and I assumed that even though they displayed this unconcerned behavior towards people they don't know or they don't want to get intimate with, they were indeed very sensitive to what is happening around them. We also assumed that these people expected us to be going in the dance floor to dance as if there was an unwritten agreement or contract that everybody understood and complied with. It was common sense to be dancing in the dance floor.
According to Bremmer (2006), breaking common sense barriers often lead to bewilderment gradually ...Show more


The group was assigned to conduct an experiment of our design to be able to fully appreciate the social phenomenon of expectations and the assumption that there is a common understanding between people. Our plan was to determine the reactions people would have if we did something 'unusual' or something that was unexpected.
Author : jcollins
Sociology - group experiment essay example
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