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This paper requires you to perform a breaching experiment in which you will break a social norm, and then write a paper that relates which norm you breached, how you did it, and an interpretation of the reactions of others with whom you interacted during the course of the breach. This last point should be the primary focus of the paper, so please do not give me a play-by-play of the breach. The paper is to be seven pages. Good luck and enjoy yourself. For your experiment, you will breach a social norm and evaluate the responses to your breach. THE SOCIAL NORM YOU WILL BREACH IS TO OFFER TO SHAKE EVRYONE’S HAND. You will then write up the results, incorporating sociological theory to illustrate our concepts from class and to understand why people care so much when even mild breaches occur.
The exercise is to be done in groups of 3-4 persons. While one person performs the breach, the others are to observe and record the reactions of others. Do so without affecting the breach or the people you are observing. You need to be removed from the event to some degree. Each person should do the breach exercise at least once, possibly twice, so as to have ample reactions from which to draw for your paper.
As for the individual who is engaged in the exercise, remember that you must maintain yourself as though you are doing nothing wrong and that your actions are completely acceptable. Do not inform anyone that this is an experiment. Do not attempt to offer any explanation for your actions. This includes responding politely to those who speak with you, etc. Don’t act crazy!!!
As you analyze this experience, it may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
–Which breach did you conduct?
–How did it feel to be the violator?
–Who were the other participants?
–What were their reactions?
FOLLOWN THE OUTLINE!!!
When you write the paper, you will be take a position concerning a concept or theory discussed in class or in the readings. Then, using the reactions of others who witnessed your breach, you will support or challenge the concept or theory. You are expected to draw from the readings, lectures, and discussions in your paper. This is a normal academic paper, which includes an intro, body, and conclusion as follows:
Questions to answer include: what are norms? What are they for? What do they give to individuals and to society? What happens when they are breached? Why do people care? Then, give us the purpose of the experiment and of the paper.
• What you did
Please explain the norm that you breached, and show what the typical fulfillment of the norm looks like in our society. Then, briefly summarize the reactions you received (you should not talk about them individually yet—just a brief summary of them all).
In this section, you will look for patterns of reactions in your experiment, and in your group members.’ How did women tend to respond? Men? Older people? Younger? How did ethnicity or culture seem to affect the reactions of those around you? How did your own characteristics govern how your behavior was received? You will want to look at reactions in the context of socialization, and think of how each group has been socialized to respond to your behavior.
• Theoretical Analysis
You will want to pick two or more theories from our course to explain how and why you performed, and others responded to your breach. This is NOT the time to include as many terms as you can from the course; instead, select two theories, explain how they work in detail, and then apply them to specific examples from your experiment. You can draw on any group member’s experience in writing this part, and show how the theory operates in these experiences. Some good theories to include in this part come from our social psychology chapter, chapter 4.
So, the big question is….did people notice your breach? Why do even mild modifications of “normal” behavior bother people? You will want to include the “taken for granted view” in your overall analysis of this experience.
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