Breaking Social Norms
Micro-sociology is a primary focus within society because it concerns the daily social interactions between humans. So in other words, when we think of micro-sociology, we think of looking at society at a smaller level, which is face to face among individuals. It is the study of human behavior based on how individuals interpret a situation and react to the meaning of it.
If we were to look at how individuals act, you can say that we put on a show, so we have and carry out roles, and depending on the situation, the situation demands different roles for individuals to perform. However, and individual cannot perform by his or herself, but requires for more than one individual to participate, either by another body, or a group. So within our lives, individuals go through these sorts of rituals that become social norms. Erving Goffman explains the term dramaturgy as the representation of self in everyday life. If people interpret situations as real, then their consequences become real. Part of that statement being made, is how common sense is used to interpret everyday life, and so we develop our understandings and assumptions about our own social interactions. Within conversations there are things that are understood, and it does not necessarily have to be understood through words, but can be examined through breaching experiments.
Symbolic interactionism applies to the communication, interpretation and adjustment between individuals, whether it is verbal or nonverbal. Symbolic interaction has a lot to do with the interaction in micro-sociology and the outcomes or conclusions about them. Herbert Blumer, explains how there are four ways you can interpret a phenomenon of an interaction. One way to interpret it is, why people act they way they act, two, is describe how people interpret the situation, three, is to view the situation to see what people are doing and lastly, is to analyze the individual acts in the situation.
As my own breeching experiment in breaking a social norm, I decided to walk in front of people, looking directly at them rather than walk behind them. Before doing the breeching experiment the only expectation that I had was that every person that I would walk in front of would give me the craziest, what heck are you doing look? And end up walking off furiously, because they would find me annoying. And so I did this experiment a few times, all of them being in the quad but on different days and times. Four out of five times the end result was my expectation. The four times I tried it, each person was looking down either texting or listening to music and so when they looked up, they all made an awkward face asking themselves why I was walking in front of them, but none of them said anything. Every time he or she tried to walk the other way, I followed their move while remaining to keep eye contact. Two of them were getting furious, because I continued to walk in front of them till they got to the library or Student Center East. The other two just quickly tried to get away from me by practically running away. However, the last time I tried the breeching experiment I got a whole new reaction and act. One particular student had reversed the role on me, or made me lose face. When I started to walk in front of him, he glanced up and noticed I was facing and following his every move. He gave a hesitant look but then smiled and stopped, causing me to halt. Next, he then got in front of me and so when I realized, I did not have control of the situation anymore I tried walking off. He began to walk in front of me making direct eye contact, causing me to feel uncomfortable. This person knew exactly what I was trying to do and so he then reversed roles to throw me off, which worked, but certainly gave me a different reaction from my expectation.
After having roles reversed on me, I then spoke to him, explaining how the experiment was a project for class, none of the other students knew the purpose or why I was walking in front of them because I wasn’t given the opportunity. Overall, I enjoyed doing this breeching experiment; I found it fascinating how no one said anything or asked why I was walking in front of them, but had their body language speak for them. By breaking social norms/ rituals, we observe how individuals find themselves not sure what to do because people break the invisible rules on how people interact with one another. As well as see how we can lose face when other people start to act and become actors on the stage (meaning situation).