Essay about Social Norms Exp

Submitted By bullets1224
Words: 1956
Pages: 8

Do You Mind?: Breaking the Social Norm
Norms are defined as “laws that govern societies behaviors,” keeping unspoken order and maintaining unwritten standards. Norms range from eating with the proper utensils and wearing gender appropriate clothes, to not committing murder or being sexually promiscuous. I choose to violate the norm of common curtsey at the dining table. By making noises while people were eating, my goal was to see how they would react, bot verbally and none verbally.
Another folkway norm in Western society is to be polite at the dining table, from keeping ones elbows off the table to being accepting of others food choices make the table is a place where manners are a very large part of the experience. If one does not fall in line with all the others at the table it is clearly noticeable. It is common practice to make polite conversation at the table and unless one is commenting on how good something is, the food itself is mostly ignored. To add emphasis to this many of the rules at the dining table prohibit the mixing of socializing and eating. While eating it is thought of as rude to talk with food in your mouth, so during this time one excluded from the conversation. This makes the socializing the more important, then getting nutrients from the food. In earlier time the focus was much more about the meal because food was held in higher regard, and as a prize position, now many people don’t give the food they eat a second thought. By teaching children at a very young age that the table is a place for respect, strict rules, and precise manners it allows for almost complete control and requires the correct behavior from all participants. Furthermore, since dining is a mainly social exercise the food itself only adds temptation to the break norms. If one plays with their food or is not acting according to standards then the person will be punished and could be banished from the table. In this type of situation that is the ultimate punishment for breaking the norm at the dining table. So if a child plays with his food at the table it is the parent’s reaction to send him away and exclude him from the social interaction.
I violated this norm of being polite at the dining table by making noises at people as they eat. Sound like “nom, nom, nom” or “chomp, chomp, chomp” or “slurp” and “glug”. By doing this food became forefront of dining conversation. I also broke the politeness norm because it is rude to interrupting others conversations with these noises.
By doing this behavior I predicted people would have an array of reactions. The least sever reaction would be to laugh off the noises and continue eating normally. A step up from that, laughing but feeling slightly uncomfortable about eating again, then maybe a more direct reaction, such as calling me out on my action and questioning my strange behavior. Another possibility could be silence and confusion about what to do, along with hesitation to eat anymore. An even more sever reaction could be to stop eating for a short time, with the chance that the person will stop eating all together. Finally I predict the most sever reaction would be for the person leave the table or ask me to leave the table.
My experiment took place in the dining hall on campus. Over four days, six meals: one breakfast, two lunches, three dinners I preformed my trials. The first trial I preformed was at lunch, I was eating with my three closest friends. The four of us have eaten most of our meals together since starting school and tend to spend most of our free time together. We are all pretty similar, for example we are all girls, we all have similar religious views, we all dress similarly, and we all interpret an follow the rules in a similar fashion.
The second time I preformed my experiment was the same day at dinner. There were seven other people at the table: five girls and two boys. Among this group was more diversity, my three close friends were still there but I