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SOC 200: Introduction to Sociology
Extra Credit Opportunity
20 extra credit points possible
You are to conduct a “breaching experiment.”  For this assignment you will need to violate a minor social norm and then analyze the reactions of others who observed your “deviant” act.  You may need to repeat your norm violation or continue engaging in it for a while in order to observe the changing reactions of others.  You must have your breaching experiment approved by your instructor to ensure that all activities are safe, legal, and effective. Your final paper is due MONDAY, OCTOBER 8.  I will not accept late assignments.  Part of how you get evaluated is based on being able to follow directions and meet deadlines. 
Warning:  Remember that you are only being asked to violate a minor norm.  Do NOT do anything that will frighten or alarm those around you.  Do NOT do anything illegal.  
Examples of Minor Norm Violations: 

Cutting in on a      line
Interrupting      someone constantly
Walking      backwards through campus
Facing backwards      in an elevator
Invading      another’s personal space when talking to him/her
Wearing your      clothes inside out
Walking your cat      on a leash
Eating food at a      restaurant without using utensils
Wearing clothing      or engaging in actions typically associated with a person of the opposite      gender. 
Shop from      someone else’s grocery cart
Going barefoot      in an inappropriate social environment
Sitting on the      floor at a coffee shop or on a city bus
Lean towards      someone who’s on a cell phone in a public place (at a Starbuck’s, in line      somewhere, etc.) as if you’re trying to listen. Smile (or laugh) if they      laugh. Ask them to put it on speakerphone, because you’re having trouble      hearing.

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Times Vary:  For example, the elevator example is short, and the reactions may be subtle, so you might try it on 10 or 15 people and look for patterns. But you might try sitting on the floor on only three or four buses or trains, since that will take more time. The key is to observe as many reactions as possible.
Care:  The trick is to act as though what you’ve done is normal, acceptable, and within the boundaries of tacit rules. If you shop from someone else’s cart, don’t apologize and say “oh, sorry, I thought that was a display.” Instead, say that it was simply easier than reaching for the shelf. 
Groups:  You may conduct the breach with someone else in the class (or with anyone else), even using one of them as a confederate in order to see how others react to your interactions, but you must submit your reports of what happened individually.
DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR BREACHING EXPERIMENT (2-3 pages)
Data Collection and Field Notes:
Once you have selected a norm that interests you. You should complete the following components of the assignment and keep a detailed log to be turned in with your final paper:
1. Go out and observe normative behavior. That is, do nothing. Simply observe the way this norm operates in everyday life. Pay attention to details in order to understand how this norm functions to regulate some type of behavior. This will enable you to make a thoughtful comparison when you violate the norm and observe others’ reactions. Record what your norm is and how it regulates behavior in the particular setting you observed.
2. Record your plan/strategy for violating the norm.
3. Describe any expectations of social responses you have before conducting the experiment.
4. Violate the norm enough times or for long enough to observe the reactions of 10-15 people.  
5. Observe the response of others in the social setting. Keep an observation log and describe the reactions of those around you. What types of sanctions were incurred for violating this norm?
4) Reflect on how this norm serves to regulate behavior in the social world.
The final paper you turn in will consist of three elements: description, analysis and discussion. Be sure in your paper to include all of the elements described below:
Description: 
• A description of the setting including details such as: location, time of day, number of people present, race, gender, age, weather conditions, general atmosphere etc…. The goal is to be able to reflect on whether any of these variables may give us insight into the social order and reactions to the norm violation.
• Describe both the normative behavior in this setting and your subsequent normative violation. You should describe your norm violation in detail. 
• Describe the responses of those who witnessed your norm violation. Indicate how these responses were a departure from the normal behavior you initially witnessed in this setting.
Analysis: 
In this section you should analyze what happened when you violated the normative order of this social setting. You should use sociological concepts from the text as well as those discussed in lecture and demonstrate your ability to integrate course material into this assignment.
• What is a social norm (put in your own words)?
• What function does this social norm fulfill for society?
• Why did people respond the way that they did?
• Were there sanctions for this norm violation? What kind(s)?
Discussion: 
Reflect on the degree to which you think this norm functions to regulate social behavior. In doing so, answer the following questions:
• Did you experience any personal difficulty in purposefully violating a norm? Why or why not?
•  What would be the consequences for social order if you continuously violated this norm?
• How does this “experiment” shed light on the power of social norms? 
In summary in slightly different words:  
a)  What norm or social rule did you violate and what is normative behavior in this situation?  What did you do?  When and where?  
        b)  Who was your audience?  How did they perceive and define the “meaning” of your actions?  How could you tell?  That is, what reactions (verbal or nonverbal) did they direct toward you?  Did different people react differently? (Consider age, gender and race factors)?  Did anyone negatively sanction you?  If so, how?  What was the purpose of their sanction (e.g., ridicule, shame, to ensure conformity)?   
        c)   How did violating this norm make you feel?  How can you explain these feelings sociologically?  (E.g., how are concepts such as socialization, internalization, social control, role-taking, and/or the looking-glass self relevant?)
        d)    Would this act always be viewed as deviant or would it be acceptable in a different time or context?   

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