Concept Ideas: Culture, Norm Violation, Sanctions, Folkways, Mores, Deviance


This assignment asks you to violate a norm and write a report about the experience. The objective of the research is to determine the extent to which norms influence behavior and how norm violation is perceived in our society. Thus, you will pay particular attention to the reactions of both YOURSELF and OTHERS who are part of the situation.

This assignment involves core concepts that you find in Chapter 3, 4, 5, and 7.  Make sure that you have reviewed these chapters before writing your final report.


Before you begin the assignment, be certain you study the following guidelines:


  1. Select a norm common in our society. Be sure it is a folkway and not a more.
  2. BEFORE you enter the field to do your research, be certain you filled out parts 1 and 2 of the write-up (see the format outlined below). This will help to ensure that you have a firm grasp of your hypothesis in advance.
  3. BREAK the norm in a social setting, OBSERVE the reactions of others and yourself, and RECORD as quickly as possible those reactions.
  4. Vary the conditions. Do your experiments at least twice under different conditions (e.g. place, time, audience).
  5. Violate the norm in a social setting. It does not count if you wear your clothes backwards in your closet.
  6. Reactions. Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal reactions.


  1. DO NOT:
  2. Break any law or cause anyone else to break the law.
  3. Cause harm to yourself or anyone (including animals) else.
  4. Do anything that is illegal or morally questionable, or that could bring negative sanctions to you, the sociology department, the university, or your instructor.


The following format is to be followed as you write up this exercise.  Please note that this is a skeletal outline and is intended to help you decide what information to include in your report.  Be sure to cover all these points, but do not feel that you are limited to them. Elaborate and be creative where you can.  Incorporate as much as you can from what you have learned about sociology in everyday settings.

This report should be 4-6 pages in length, typewritten and double space.  Please take note of my policies regarding written assignments (see syllabus).


Format to use:


  1. Statement of the Problem (5 points)


  1. Define the norm that you will violate.
  2. Describe briefly how this norm helps you determine how to act in a social setting. That is, what is the function of the norm for society in general?
  3. Describe what you will do to violate the norm.


  1. Hypothesis (5 points)


  1. Describe the range of possible reactions others will have toward the violation of this norm.
  2. What do you predict the most common reaction to be, and why?


  1. Describe the setting (5 points)


  1. Physical –      where did the norm violation take place?
  2. Social –           how many and what types of people were observing?


  1. Describe the incident: tell what happened (10 points)


  1. Summary and Interpretation (25 points). Bulk of points (15 points) is based on your answers to part E and F of this section.


  1. How did you feel as you were violating the norm?
  2. Why did you feel the way you did?
  3. Did people react the way you expected?  Explain.
  4. Did you encounter any difficulties carrying out your assignment?
  5. Which deviance theory do you think can best explain the public’s reactions to your norm violation? Explain why.
  6. What, if anything, did you learn about how norms exercise social control? How is deviance perceived in society? Relate your findings to what we have discussed and what you have read in Chapters 3,4, 5, and 7. APPLY AT LEAST TWO sociological concepts.