Breaking Norms Essay

1958 words - 8 pages

In Society, there are folkways, mores, and laws all governing a society, yet they all share one basic foundation. This foundation is seen universally and is nearly engrained in our minds. These are norms. Norms are the shared expectations of behavior that is for a specific culture. Norms are very similar to values, yet values are society’s expectations on how to live life rather than what is acceptable behavior in social environments. Morals come into discussion too with virtue, as morals are what is right or wrong, as defined by the culture. Every culture shares different norms. For example, Muslim women in Afghanistan must cover their faces when walking in public, yet in America we do not understand this as this is not one of our norms. Norms are generally created over many years for a culture and are hard to understand or relate to if we are not part of that culture. This leads us to culture shock when entering other cultures. If we were suddenly placed in another culture without any transition and did not understand their norms, we would encounter culture shock. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum comes folkways, mores, and laws. These come when we understand and have a familiar understanding of the culture. Folkways are traditional norms that govern our behavior, but do not have a moral factor. An example of a folkway would be to hold the elevator for a person. A mores is a deeply held informal norm and has a moral enforcement. An example of this would be to not touch strangers. The most formal norms would be laws, as they are what is expected legally of society and have repercussions. A taboo is similar to laws as a taboo is extremely strict norms and are looked down upon from the rest of society, yet are not legally enforced. An example of this would be incest. When viewing norms in America, a particular one stood out to me. Opposite sex couples are supposed to be seen in public as being intimate, while same sex couples are thought of as hidden.
For my experiment on breaking norms, I chose to break multiple norms all in one experiment. My experiment was to see how people at the mall reacted when my guy friend and I held hands while walking together. Not only did I hold a man’s hand, but he is also African-American. My experiment broke the norm of the interracial couples dating each other. This experiment also broke the social norm that opposite sex couples are supposed to show affection in public rather than same sex couples. Although same sex couples and marriages have become more accepted in the United States, it is still a very controversial issue that has led to split results of opinion polls. In one study performed by the Gallup Organization, about 52% of Americans support same sex marriage, while 43% of Americans oppose same sex marriage. This has changed significantly over the years, as the same study was performed in 2001, yet showed only 35% of Americans supporting same sex marriages (Study:...

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