norms violation

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Assignment Instructions

For this assignment, you will be asked to violate a societal norm and record the reactions to your violation. Violating a norm can involve trying to check out in the express lane with 37 items, talking loudly at a movie theater, sitting right next to a total stranger in a theater when there are 30 or 40 other empty seats, or having a conversation with someone and giving them 6 inches of personal space rather than the customary 18 to 24. The norm you choose to violate is up to you, but the farther you are willing to divorce yourself from your comfort zone, the more pronounced reactions you are likely to receive and the more fodder you will have for your paper.

Before, during, and after your experience, pay careful attention to your own thoughts and feelings as well as the reactions of others and their reactions make you feel. You may inform people of your assignment only after you have completed your norms violation, but not during or before. Once you have selected a norm to violate, answer the following questions in a 2 to 3 page essay:

1) What norm did you violate? Why did you choose this norm to violate and how did you go about doing it?

2) How did you feel before, during, and after the violation? How did others react to you? Was their reaction what you expected? Was your own reaction what you expected?

3) What social sanctions resulted from your norm violation? How were these sanctions enforced? Did you receive any rewards for your norm violation?

4) If you could not change your norm violation, how would others see you and how would you cope? How would it affect your life and those around you? How hard was it to break an unspoken rule? What did it teach you about the experiences of people who don’t “fit in” because they are new to our culture?


Disclaimer: It is up to you to determine a norm you are comfortable enough to break for this assignment, but any activity that will endanger yourself or others or result in a criminal offense is not condoned by the instructor. This assignment is designed in good fun to allow you to examine some of society’s unwritten rules and the consequences for violating these rules – it is not designed to earn you a criminal record, so be creative, but use your best judgment as well 🙂

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