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Observing Norms in a Society

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Along with the norm-observation is the norm-breaking. Basically, anything that opposes the norm is breaking it. This activity would note everything from the people’ s behavior on that said norm, to their reaction to the norm-breaking. To ensure safety, the norm I chose to break does not involve the law. For this, I went to the local public library. A library is one place where it has so many rules, most of them nonverbal as it was handed down from generations, as norms. Like societal rules like falling in line in a shop and saying thank you after a favor has been done, library rules are there to maintain the order of the establishment.

Breaking the rules would mean social sanctions, whether it would be by the visitors in the library or the librarian as well, would be a question. The library has many implicit and explicit rules. For me, the major thrust of having rules in the libraries is this: having people enjoy a piece of silence and calmness that they would not get in the comforts of their own private spaces.

Eating is strictly prohibited to preserve the integrity, cleanliness of the place and also not to distract other people. Being silent is upheld so that other library users could concentrate. Thus, distracting people would be the ultimate symbol against the order of the establishment. The manner in how to distract them is where the norm-breaking comes in. Norm breaking usually distracts people because of different behavior. The difference is the key. It could be anywhere from not wearing shoes inside the library or to smoke cigarettes in the library.

For this activity, the norm to break is keeping silent in the library. Not only it is an explicit norm, but it is also an injunctive norm and it hasn’ t changed. At some point being noisy in the library felt like acting on a taboo. I entered the library at around ten in the morning. The place is clean and quiet, peppered with an occasional cough. There are quite a number of people, mostly students. There are also senior citizens and those who came to use the internet.

Most people are young (students) and the middle class. Sex is evenly distributed.  

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