You can’t do that, here.

The second “practica” in my Introduction to Sociology class is the classic ethnomethodological experiment, where students are asked to violate a norm in at least three contexts (selected with an eye to their hypothesis about the nature of the norm) and report the results.  Of course, I prohibit them from violations of law or campus regulations and warn them not to cause (physical or emotional) harm to themselves, or others.  They are also encouraged to collaborate with peers in the class, so that the norm breaker will not have to worry about simultaneously observing the results of the experiment and can focus on remaining “in character.”

Since many of you do the same assignment, and many of the examples are amusing, AND because I haven’t written about teaching/student stuff yet this term, I thought I’d share some examples of what they came up with:

Approaching strangers and asking detailed questions about their religious beliefs.

Sustaining interactions while holding a hand and arm in the air.

Shopping out of other shoppers’ carts, instead of off the shelves of a grocery store.

Pressing all the buttons on a high-rise elevator.

Buying and reading a Playboy magazine.

Sitting on the floor, when chairs are free.

Urinating next to another man, when more distant urinals are free.

Talking in Korean to non-Korean language speakers.

Asking strangers for birthday presents.

Talking graphically about sex in public places.



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5 responses to “You can’t do that, here.

  1. Anyone try to violate the norm of Turning In The Assignment? I’m afraid this is what my smart-ass 17 yo self would have done.

  2. Jenn Lena

    Anti-authoritarian action is not the mien of these kids, so no. And if I had, I’d be on the fence about the grade. Unfortunately, Blackboard can’t record “A/F”, as a grade.

  3. Talking graphically about sex in public places.

    Based on the phone conversation that the woman across from me on the Caltrain was having, I’m not sure this would be much of a breach.

  4. Jenn Lena

    To say nothing of buying and reading a Playboy. I had no idea this was so transgressive among the youth!

    Perhaps I ought to remind myself, and you ought to learn, how much more constrictive sexual norms are, in the South.

  5. and you ought to learn

    And soon!

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