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Norm Violation - Assignment Example

As we grocery shop, we know that we’re expected to keep to ourselves, keep our voice down, keep our carts and bodies out of the way of others, and efficiently move through the store as we shop. At the conclusion of our shopping excursion, we are to wait in line at the cash register without drawing attention to ourselves, pay, and leave. Grocery shopping is a mundane experience, and one of the other norms of the event is to go about the excursion without expressing much emotion. We do not unnecessarily interact with other shoppers; we limit our interactions to nods, brief exchanges about equally mundane topics, and smiling and greeting one another. I decided to break the norm of interaction and emotive expression. I decided on the norm while observing shoppers at the grocery store. Grocery shopping is such a commonplace activity that one rarely considers appropriate behavior. But once we got this assignment, I began to try to use my sociological imagination and be aware of the unspoken norms in public spaces. I noticed that everyone was quietly going about their shopping, and keeping to themselves. It was almost as if shoppers pretended they were the only people in the store. The only time they acknowledged another shopper was out of necessity: both were trying to get through the same aisle going in different directions, or one shopper had to get around another. Otherwise, everyone quietly went about their tasks. The expressions on everyone’s faces were neutral. There was no emotion displayed

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by anyone throughout the time I observed in the store, which was more than an hour. When I set about completing this assignment, I chose a store where I normally do not shop. This grocery store is not near where I live, work, or go to school. I did this so I wouldn’t encounter anyone I knew. This served both as protection for me socially as well as protection for the assignment. I didn’t want to see someone I knew and be tempted to chicken out of breaking the norm. The store I chose was a large, comprehensive, chain grocery store. It is the same chain I typically do my shopping in near my home. Thus, the store layout was the same. I knew how the typical procedures and peculiarities of the store. The clientele were similar in demographics to the store in my neighborhood: diverse both in racial and socioeconomic breakdown. I chose to violate my norm during a busy shopping time, but not a peak shopping hour. I made this decision because if it were too busy, my data might be altered. But if were there were not enough people in the store, I wouldn’t be able to gather enough data. I also needed enough people in the store so that I had customers with which to interact. But not so many people that my behavior went unnoticed. I decided ahead of time that I would exercise ‘inappropriate celebration’ in order to violate a social norm. Typically, we go about our shopping and we make very little expression of delight or dismay. We may internally be happy or unhappy with prices, timing, or other factors, but we tend to keep this information to ourselves. I decided to express an inappropriate level of elation during this shopping trip. Prior to beginning my experiment, I was very nervous. Even though I had mentally rehearsed some things I could do, I found that when I was in the store with so many people around, I was very nervous. This made me even more pleased that I had not chosen a peak shopping time. The first instance of norm violation was in the produce
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Social norms play an important role in our society. They help create and maintain social solidarity. We are all socialized from birth onward in our families of origin as well as through our contact with social institutions, so that we are well aware of the norms expected in most situations…
Norm Violation Assignment
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