Society is designed in a manner that can easily be manipulated into the believing and conforming to certain traits and activities. For this, if an activity is fully accepted over a long period, it is referred to as a norm. Once something has become a norm, it is very difficult for anyone who does not follow this norm to be accepted. That is; society is very precise in terms of what is expected of everyone at most instances (McLeod). However, there are those that have an influential position in the social structure, and who enjoy a controlling possibility. To them, they may not be fully judged for their inability to follow the set norms since they are regarded highly. Thus, the society is controlled by a selected few just as explained on Max Weber’s theory of social status (Mondal) (Bryant).
There are different levels of deviance that can be considered when one does not conform to the given norms in society. For example, there is negative deviance. This is when under conforms or does not conform entirely to the required expectation. In this context, someone decides that they will undertake things in their manner and disregard the general expected ways of the society. In this form of deviance, one is liable to face tough judgment from those in society that conform to the disregarded norm. A form of negative deviance is rate busting. This is where an individual is where an individual receives a negative reaction due to them over conforming to the given norm. For example, a fanatic can receive a rate busting when they overindulge in an activity. In football, it is usual to be a fan of a particular club. However, if one goes to the extent of following the club completely to the extent of having almost everything they own adorned in the color of the club or badge, they become fanatic.
Other forms of deviance include positive deviance and deviance admiration. Positive deviance involves when an individual over conforms in terms of activities that societies considers to be good. For example, if someone over conforms to giving back to charity, they receive positive deviance since they value the society more than themselves, for example, in India, Gandhi can be seen as a perfect example of someone who receive positive deviance for the amount of time he devoted to society. Deviance admiration is where someone is seen to under conform to current issues and live a life is within themselves. For instance, it is expected that everyone should feel the economic pinch that takes place when inflation prices increase. However, there are people who do not feel this pinch and end up living their lives without ever feeling this effect. This is because they live within their means and they can produce within this means giving them a level of dependency. Therefore, they are under conforming to the normal norm but they are also admired for how they are coping (Heckert and Heckert).
In this research, the experiment involved going against a social belief among those attending a specific restaurant, 1201 kitchens. The restaurant operates in an area that ensures that it is visited by most of the well-off in society in terms of financial power. Moreover, this number of individuals prides themselves on the ability to ensure that whatever they do is on a certain class or prestige. That is why most of them visit the restaurant because of its good location as well as a rich menu in terms of the prices and cuisine. In this regard, everyone that desires to visit the restaurant is expected to adhere to some form of norm, the dressing norm. Since the group is mostly made up of businesspersons, the basic mode of dressing is adorning in official attire. That is, a suit or at most an official mode of dressing for both sexes. When such as restriction in set, in terms of the mindset, it is difficult for the said group to accept anyone else who does not adhere to this norm.
The reception in the restaurant was negative because all those around and involved did not expect such mode of dressing. The only person who was open to our mode of dressing was the owner’s sister. To her, she understood the reason her brother had removed the dress code rule that had been set since his aim was to reach out to more customers. Therefore, it was easier for her to interact with us and to serve us, unlike all the other waiters. Moreover, due to the timing in the week, the number of those in official clothing was high. This made us seem out of place. However, we were advised that visiting the restaurant in the weekend would have seen us receive a less level of disapproval. This is because many would dress in casual wear that would still seem presentable, but no one would be in a full sporty wear.
Therefore, in my experiment, I decided to reserve a table for six at the restaurant. The aim of this was to attend the restaurant when it was full of people in order to gauge the best response that could be received upon breaking the dressing norm. On the day of the reservation, my invitees for the experiment and I donned on sweat pants. This is a sporty form of dressing that would most likely be expected in a recreational center such as a sports bar. Upon entry, we received a harsh look from all those around the place since they did not expect anyone to dress in such a manner. In fact, it was interesting that also some of the waiters and waitresses were also puzzled by our dressing and seemed reluctant to serve us. This showed the extent to which we had gone against the expected norm of dressing in formal attire.
All through the evening, the glares received from all those within showed the level of disapproval. For most, the look contained a look of us not belonging to their class and stature in society and our visit to the restaurant was some form of abuse to them. The extent of the dressing norm at the restaurant is extreme. A new management that removed the previously set dress code manages the restaurant. By this, the management made the restaurant open to all without considering the dressing. However, those who knew the place could not change the way they perceive the place. Therefore, it is hard for them to forego the dress code just because their lacks a restriction. To them, the norm is embedded in their culture and belief to the extent that it is hard for them to accept any change.
The aim of the experiment was to under conform to the expected norm in terms of the dressing that we would wear when visiting the restaurant. The norm not followed was courtesy. Courtesy entails that one behaves in a manner that is observant of the public opinion in all regards. In our visit to the restaurant, we did not observe this and were deemed uncouth. The general feeling from all those in the restaurant was to expel us from the vicinity. However, they could not master to do this since none of them was ready to establish what we did wrong. There was no clear indicator that what we had put on was not allowed due to the lack of a dress code restriction on the place. This can be seen to have been a form of negative deviance from us since the majority of the group did not approve of our actions and behavior (G. A. Silverstone). Among those in the restaurant included a group from General Electric who were holding a dinner meeting. The groups also were among those who were shocked by our mode of dressing.
From the experiment, it can be seen that norms are taken seriously depending on what sentimental values they hold in the society. For this group of people, their mode of dressing made them feel higher than others that could not match this mode of dressing. Therefore, their norm made them feel superior in terms of their status and place in society. Norms have this effect on people and it makes those who belong to feel powerful, and those who cannot belong are felt to feel inferior. Norms can also be used to determine the general behavior within a society. That is; they can help to stem out bad behaviors among the community in order to preserve the integrity o the society. For instance, in some communities, alcohol is deemed as an immoral drink. Therefore, anyone who partakes of it will be seen to be committing a crime and will be segregated from the community. Thus, for such behaviors, it helps to maintain a healthy community setting (Sparknotes).
From the interviews undertakes, the general feeling from those interviewed showed negative deviance. The chef indicated that he was shocked with our mode of dressing since it was not what he was used to. According to him, the mode of dressing by those visiting the restaurant made the customers feel important. From this, we can see that he feels that the dressing norm is a form of raising or increasing the esteem among those who follow it. The sister to the owner felt that Thursday was not the best day for the experiment as she felts Friday and Saturday would have provided better responses. She also explained on the way her brother had tried to remove the dressing restriction to try and reduce the negative deviance. This did not seem to work since people still kept to the dress code of their choice even after the restriction was lifted. She also highlighted out that most of the people who dressed in the official manner were afraid of the other’s reaction. This shows that the dressing norm has become a psychological aspect that affects a large majority.
In terms of culture, norms are used to conserve the integrity of a certain community of people. Therefore, they can conserve and maintain their beliefs that make them unique in society. Moreover, norms are also based in terms of religious settings. Every religious group has their norms that their followers are expected to follow in order for them to be considered to belong there. Without these norms, anyone could say they belong to that specific group. However, the norms are used as a tool for separating different groups and creating a sense of belongs for each. Norms can also be used in terms of socioeconomic activities. That is, if a certain group of people believes that doing a particular activity is profitable, chances are that many more will practice the same. Therefore, the norm can be used as a motivational tool that can inspire individuals to undertake activities that can promote the economy of the country (Mondal).
Norms can then be seen to be invisible rules that are set by a group of people that are used in determining the overall effect that they have on a vast majority. Thus, norms have a large effect in terms of the psychological impact they have on people, and their actions see this. In the experiment, the people in the restaurant sort to see us as outsiders because we did not conform to their standards of dressing. There is a possibility that if we had adhered to this, the response that we could have received would have been different. In this context, they would not have known if we belonged to the same class as they have. Therefore, a norm can be seen as a factor that helps give people a sense of belonging even though one might not fully qualify for that particular kind of lifestyle (Bura).
Nonetheless, the experiment can be seen to have been successful since the result was as expected since the reaction received was negative. Moreover, it gave an in-depth view of the outcome that one can receive if they go against the standard norm. In conclusion, norms can be seen to be concepts that are strictly adhered to by people. Furthermore, anyone that does not follow them is seen to be breaking the rules set.
Bryant, Lee . Social Action Theory. 2014. Document . 2 March 2015.
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- A. Sylverston. Why Is Courtesy Important. 2014. Article . 2 March 2015.
Heckert, Alex and Druann Maria Heckert. “New Typology of Deviance: Integrating Normative and Reactivist Definitions of Deviance.” Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal (2002): 449-479. Document.
McLeod, Saul . Social Roles. 2008. Document. 2 March 2015.
Mondal, Puja. Social Norms: It’s Meaning, Characteristics, Institutionalization and Functions. 2014. Article . 2 March 2015.
Sparknotes. Society and culture. 2014. Article. 2 March 2015.