Defying Of Social Norms To Analyze The Symbolic Interactions In Society

A social norm can be described as the expectation each member in a society must obtain while following their role in their surrounding environment. In this observation, social norms were defied to analyze the symbolic interactions that occur by a single individual in response to this unordinary exercise. As a social analyst, I was very interested in gaining insight on the reactions of an audience by defying obvious norms.

Approaching one o’clock at Owings Mill’s congested Foundry Row, I decided this was the ideal place to initiate this exhilarating observation. For preparation, each layer of clothing was flipped inside out and worn backwards. This consisted of a jacket worn backwards, jeans flipped inside out, and shoes worn on the opposite foot. Since most people were on their lunch break, I decided to enter specific crowded stores to obtain the most reactions. Panera Bread, Sarku Japan, and Chipotle were the three main popular chain restaurants that were quickly seen to contain the most customers. When entering the first restaurant, Panera Bread, I initially saw a young child point out my unusual appearance. As the young girl began to ask her mother about what she had seen, a large soccer team began to turn and stare. As I purchased my smoothie, I heard indirect whispers by other surrounding customers asking if I was mentally ill or simply confused on how to dress.

Approaching the next restaurant, Sarku Japan, there weren’t as many obvious responses, instead only a few whispers. After entering the last restaurant, Chipotle, I noticed a couple stopped their conversation once I had entered. As I stood in line to make my purchase, one of the employees asked if I was serious about my clothing decisions. This interesting experiment of observation was used to examine the responses of defied social norms. When deciding which norm to challenge, I thought of something simple someone does daily. Ordinary tasks from getting dressed to correctly putting on shoes seemed like an exciting and ideal subject to examine. When concluding the observation, there was an immediate negative correlation between distinct clothing preferences and social norms. There was a quick shift in my mood from enthusiastic to quickly embarrassed and anxious. Quiet whispers and stares left me feeling vulnerable and awkward to what the people surrounding me were assuming about my appearance and position in our society. From the standpoint of the individual viewing my appearance, there was an obvious uproar and sense of confusion. Their gestures indicated that defying social norms in terms of appearance is quite unusual.

After gaining insight from numerous reactions, I was alarmed by the number of negative comments associated with this observation. During the observation, there was only one person who seemed somewhat joyous and amused by my appearance. Our symbolic interactions in society pose numerous limitations on a person’s actions and overall behavior. While trying to avoid criticism, a person may be forced to behave differently to “fit in” and seem “normal” in our society. The people who tend to defy these norms possibly strive to initiate a change in society or to promote their own sense of originality. Gradual defiance begins to correlate with the social conflict theory because individualized behaviors tend to cause disruptions between normality within our society and promote change.

13 January 2020
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