Sociology students break social norms


Students read aloud in public as part of a social experiment.

Jamie Vaughan, Staff Writer

The students in Mrs. Little’s sociology class tested the social norms last week for their most recent major project in order to break social boundaries.

The social norm project has students violate social guidelines that are currently in place—guidelines such as not touching strangers and walking up the correct side of the stairs. The purpose of the project was to see how people respond when put in abnormal social situations.

“We have an unspoken agreement with everyone else in society about the rules that we follow,” Little said. “We are able to use those guidelines to maintain comfortable and (uncomfortable) situations.”

Other examples of breaking the social norms that were used are: wearing pajamas to the store, holding hands with strangers, reading a book out loud while in a library, as well as other activities that can create uncomfortable situations. Students are expected to write four paragraph papers on their social norms and the reactions of others when they broke them.

“I would imagine that the students will understand why these conventions are in place and what happens when they’re violated,” Little said. “They’ll have a better understanding of how society functions and why we do what we do.”

Little said that she imagines that her students like the sociology class, because it applies to daily life. Interacting with people is a part of everyday life, and it’s something that students need to know in order to be successful.

“The social norm that my group broke was talking to strangers,” sophomore Melanie Dao said. “We went to the mall and read to random people. It was one of the most awkward things I have ever done in my life.”