Society has through inception created norms through repetitive behaviour or actions that we have come to accept as being normal routines/behaviours. Simple actions that we perform each day, begs the question, “Who created this routine or norm and why is it accepted by society as the standard way to act?”
A simple experiment was performed by me over the weekend of September 8th and 9th 2018 to assess the reactions to me by individuals who I considered my peers as well as strangers. For two consecutive days, this experiment was conducted to gauge the reactions to me ‘breaking the norm”.
The experiment that I chose to execute was going into public-Fairview shopping Center wearing my pyjamas/nightgown and also wearing a head cap (which I normally retire to bed in).
My initial and greatest challenge that was encountered by me was trying to leave my house dressed for the experiment. My parents were having issues trying to accept the fact that I was going on the road dressed in the attire I had on. Their perception of normal attire when leaving the house was challenged by me. I had to eventually let them know that it was a school report to be allowed to drive out of the compound.
I chose the busiest time of day to present myself, and I also chose the time period I knew my peers would be there. A wide range of reactions greeted me and they varied from disgust to laughter to being sympathetic (for those who thought I lost my mind). A few of my peers actually enquired if I was feeling okay and some were actually looking around for the cameras (because they felt I was on a reality show). Some whispered amongst themselves and based on their facial expressions, these were not positive uplifting comments.
Breaking the norm experiment has taught me that we are governed by the society and what it deems as being normal and acceptable. Stepping outside of the comfort zone of what society expects of my behaviour proved that people are sometimes marginalized based on the view of the society and the individual who wants to be themselves and dress and act how they feel comfortable doing are viewed as eccentric.
Max Webber, is credited with creating social action theory, which examines the actions of people in the context of the meanings that they assign to them and the relationship these actions have with the actions of others. Furthermore, Weber argued that social action occurs as the result of cooperation and struggle between the individual and the wider society (https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-social-action-theory.html). As this theory relates to the experiment, my peers based on past interactions with me have been used to me dressing normally as defined by society. When this abnormal dressing was done, the reactions varied from individuals who witnessed the experiment. My future interactions with my peers may be strained based on the last interaction that was made (experiment).