This essay just requires completing first two steps of the project. To make sure that you have designed an appropriate and viable breaching experiment please submit a one-paragraph summary of the folkway you plan to breach and how you plan to do so to your instructor.
And I think I will continue doing the step 3 and step 4 for this project. Therefore, if you(the writer)can do well of this step 1 and 2. I think I will continue to let the same writer help me to complete this project.
The following is the partial requirements of the project. Later I will upload the complete document.
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. This saying applies very well to the countless informal rules that help us navigate our way through daily life in coordination with other people. We usually don’t give the complex and myriad rules of everyday interaction a second thought until we or someone else breaks one of these folkways – a seemingly trivial social norm that helps regulate social interaction in particular situations. We count on folkways to make behavior in social settings predictable and orderly by dictating everything from how we eat our meals and shake hands to how to stand in an elevator or interact with “friends” on Facebook. When people follow the socially accepted and expected folkways we feel comfortable because we more-or-less know what to expect and how to act appropriately. As long as everybody lives by the same set of folkways life goes on without much though about these social norms. However, because we all make mistakes and because folkways are sometimes ambiguous or contested, we do have to deal with some breaches of folkways. Folkway violations are usually punished mildly and informally because they do not carry the moral weight of mores or taboos. However, folkways make up the normative order of daily life so their influence on us adds up to be quite significant. While you probably don’t have to give a lot of thought to avoiding breaking the law or our culture’s incest taboo on a daily basis, you do have to make sure that you abide by a plethora of folkways.
Personal Territories: A Classic Example of the Power of Folkways
In an article entitled “Territories of the Self” sociologists Erving Goffman discussed some of the most common, but least obvious, folkways that we rely on daily. He wrote about these folkways as useful for protecting or claiming “personal territories” as we physically interact with others. For example, we rely on folkways to help us protect or claim our “personal space” – the immediate area around our bodies. Feeling uneasy about your proximity to another person is an indication that your personal space has been intruded upon and that someone has invaded your personal territory. Personal space changes size depending on the situation and whom you are interacting with of course. The size of your personal space will be different in conversation with a close friend, compared to when you are sitting next to a stranger on a park bench. We use folkways about eye contact in similar ways to protect our personal territory (averting your eyes), invite someone to move closer (making eye contact), or even to trespass on someone else’s personal territory (staring at someone). In each case folkways exist to set the “socially acceptable” cultural standards for interaction that help us understand and interpret other’s actions and intentions. If this all reminds you of the symbolic interaction paradigm and the dramaturgic theory then you’re making the right connections!
Breaking the Rules . . . On Purpose!
Following in the micro-sociological footsteps of Cooley, Mead, and Goffman Harold Garfinkel came up with the idea that the true importance of folkways in daily life is best revealed by deliberately breaking them to see how people respond. Garfinkel and his students conducted a series of “breaching experiments” in which they identified folkways, purposefully broke them, and studied people’s reactions. His assumption was that you could determine the strength or importance of a folkway according to people’s reaction to its violation. To give you a sense of how these breaching experiments work here are a couple of classic examples described by sociologists Bradley Wright and Christian Sandvig.
A classic “breaching” experiment involved shopping. Researchers would go to a grocery store, and then instead of pulling the items off the shelf, they would pull them out of other people’s carts. When other shoppers noticed this behavior, they would expect the researcher to say something like “oh, I thought that was my cart,” but instead the researcher just explained that it was easier to reach the items in the other person’s cart. While grocery stores do not post signs forbidding this behavior, it clearly violated the unwritten rules of shopping and the shoppers reacted with anger.
Way back in 1967 sociologist Harold Garfinkel proposed that the social world was filled with hidden rules for behavior that were so taken for granted it could be very difficult to notice them even if you tried to. To make this point he famously sent his college students home for spring break with an assignment: He asked them to “spend from fifteen minutes to an hour in their homes imagining that they were boarders and acting out this assumption” (p. 38). In short, they were to be polite to their families and note what happened.
It turns out that people aren’t polite to family.
As family norms were broken the result was often pandemonium. Unsuspecting family members quickly diagnosed their children as ill… or even insane. Speaking politely to your parents is so unusual that most families took it as cruel mockery, or as a kind of elaborate, unsuccessful joke. Students found the experience unaccountably stressful, given the apparently innocuous instructions. Garfinkel’s experiment is now widely known as “the lodger” or “the boarder.” He advocated this technique of de-familiarizing everyday life by challenging some unstated assumption as a way to discover the existence of hidden norms. He called it “breaching.”
Step 1: Design a breaching experiment
Your first task is to identify a folkway to break on purpose. Think carefully about (1) how strongly people count on this folkway, (2) how seriously they take violations of it, and (3) why this folkway exists in the first place – what purpose it appears to serve.
It is sometimes not as easy as it would seem to figure out the purpose of a given folkway. The most interesting folkways to use in breaching experiments are those that people take for-granted but have a tough time explaining rationally. For example, spitting on a crowded sidewalk may strike people as inappropriate, but the reason why is hard to articulate. Does spitting constitute a public health or safety risk or is there something more symbolic about spitting in public that offends our cultural sensibilities about bodily fluids? But why is it OK for athletes to spit on the playing field? Perhaps spitting is negatively sanctioned because it is viewed as a violation of personal space? At the end of the day we find public spitting gross because we’ve been socialized to feel this way.
Having decided on a folkway that people take seriously your next task is to design a breaching experiment in which you break this social norm in some way. You will need to decide on the best way to breach the folkway so that other people notice your deviant behavior and perceive it as a violation of the folkway you have chosen to study. Remember that your experiment requires people to react to your folkway breach in an observable way.
Step 2: Obtain instructor approval to conduct experiment Check Course Schedule for due date
Breaching experiments are designed to break folkways, NOT mores or taboos. To make sure that you have designed an appropriate and viable breaching experiment please submit a one-paragraph summary of the folkway you plan to breach and how you plan to do so to your instructor. This is also the time to ask questions of your instructor about this assignment since heading to Step 3 without a clear understanding of what you are doing and why will not bode well for your breaching experiment or your grade on this assignment.
Your instructor will not approve breaching experiments that could put people in danger or cause them serious distress. Proceed to Step 3 ONLY once your instructor has approved your Breaching Experiment.
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