Breaching Social Norms

Social norms are the unspoken understood rules of how to behave and act in a group or society that the whole community is usually aware of. I am thankful that at a young age I was made aware of social norms because as an adult I realize how much value they have in society. In today’s day and age cell phones have become a huge tool and distraction in a persons day-to-day life. Therefore, one crucial rather new social norm of politeness and respect is knowing the appropriate times to use a cell phone. Use of cell phones is rarely acceptable  during work or class, as clearly expressed by Mrs. Mendoza throughout the semester. If I was to be on my phone during class, I would be committing an act of deviance by not conforming to the social norm accepted by my class setting and the society I am a part of.

Breaching a social norm is done by not conforming to a that which is accepted by your society causing what is seen as abnormal behavior or an act of deviance. In the breaching experiment we were assigned I got to decide on a social norm to break. I chose the social norm of immediately washing your hands after using the restroom in public bathrooms. This behavior is a social norm because it is an unspoken understanding of a way to remove germs from your hands order to prevent illness and spreading infections to others. If someone does not participate in this behavior it is seen as uncivilized and adding to spread of sicknesses and germs.

This was a great assignment because it allowed me to think about all the social norms that seem so second nature and obvious they are almost taken for granted. Then try to find the best deviation to one of them that will cause the greatest reaction from a large group of people.

Here is a link to a site to Norm Breaching: Social Responses to Mild Deviance where a character named Andrew Hales posted a series of YouTube videos in which he does experiments on breaching social norms to see how people react.



Wade, Lisa, and Gwen Sharp. “Sociological Images Blogging as Public Sociology.” Social Science Computer Review 31.2 (2013): 221-228.


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