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Breaking Norm Activity

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SUPA Sociology
Izzo
Breaking a Norm Assignment
Activity: The activity is to break a social norm. You may choose from the examples below
or come up with your own. However, if you are coming up with your own you must inform
me before you break the norm to ensure it is above board.
Rules:
1) Safety is priority number one. Do not engage in a norm breaking activity if it places
anyone at risk of being harmed, either physicially or psycholgoically. If you are
going to be engaging in a more challenging norm it might be best to do it around
family or friends.
2) Be sure to find the most appropriate sitaution to break your norm.
3) Do not tell people you are going to break the norm or explain to them what you are
doing immediately after the fact.
4) You are not to break the norm in this class nor should your norm breaking
intentionally disrupt other classes.
Writing Assignment:
You need to type up a two to three (max) page paper that answers the following questions:
Overview (Short discussion)
1) What norm did you break?
2) How did you break the norm? Provide an overview of the experience.
3) How did other people respond to your breaking of the norm, both verbally and
nonverbally?
4) How did you feel right before you broke the norm, while you were breaking the
norm, and about the responses you received from other people?
Application (Larger discussion)
5) Utilize course concepts (social systems, social status/roles, paths of least resistance,
conformity, obedience, authority, informal/formal social control) to explain
a. How people responded and why they responded in the way they did
b. How people’s responses to this experience speak to broader social themes
that explain why people do not break social norms on a regular basis.
Examples of norm breaking:
1) Cutting in line.
2) Two guys holding hands.
3) Proximity norms: stand/sit too close/far from someone.
4) Bunny hop instead of walk.
5) Walk backwards.
6) Eat non-finger food with fingers (salad, soup, pasta, steak).
7) Wear underwear on the outside of your clothing.
8) Wear your clothes backwards (like Kriss Kross).
9) Refuse to talk to people when they talk to you.
10) Sit in back of car when there are only two people in the car.
11) Answer “how are you?” with a longwinded elaborate answer.
SUPA Sociology
Izzo
12) Only talk in whispers or in yells.
13) Carry a stuffed animal with you at all times.
14) Walk your cat.
15) Pretend you are actually a famous person.
16) Try to order food without paying.
17) Stare at someone.
18) Sit down in the middle of the hallway or walkway.
19) Stand in the middle of the doorway and don’t move.
20) Dance in the walkway.
21) Do pushups in front of a door.
22) Extended touching (shake someone’s hand but do not let go)
23) Don’t shake someone’s hand when they are introduced to you.
24) Deconstruct sentences (when some one asks you “How’s it going?” Respond with,
“What do you mean by it?”)
25) Consistently correct someone’s speech.
26) Elevator norms: face wrong way or the wall, sing a song, study, have a picnic,
27) Talk to yourself out loud.
28) Men: dress up in skirt/dress.
29) Sleep in the hallway (with a pillow)
30) Women: burp and/or fart in public
31) When someone is talking to you sit facing the opposite direction
32) Men: slap your male friend on the butt when you first say hi.
33) Men: wear makeup, paint your nails.
34) Girls: get a pixie cut.
35) Propose to a random person.
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