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Wednesday, 27 November 2013 11:55

Norm Violation Featured

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Norm Violation

            For this assignment, I chose to walk in the streets on a warm afternoon dressed in pajamas instead of the normal outfits. Although the local authorities have not established any dress code for the residents, most people don casual or official outfits while walking in the streets. Depending on the weather, an individual might dress heavily or lightly. In a typical warm or hot afternoon, most people don light clothes in order to avoid sweating. Consequently, it is least expected that a normal resident would walk in the streets dressed in pajamas on a warm afternoon. This norm applies to the weekdays and also during weekends. There are various reasons why I chose to violate this norm. Firstly, by dressing in pajamas, I could easily attract attention from other members of the public. This was beneficial in terms of examining the responses or reactions from different individuals.

 The second reason why I violated this norm was that it did not contradict any of the legal or ethical values. For instance, local law enforcement officers do not have the mandate to arrest an individual for appearing in public dressed in pajamas. Additionally, my behavior did not contravene any human right or cause harm to other people. This gave me confidence in breaking the norm in a relaxed and calm manner.

By dressing in pajamas while walking in the streets, I did not put my life in any sort of risk. This is was essential in terms of safeguarding personal safety. From a different perspective, I wanted to break a norm in such a way that I would elicit excitement and suspense from other people in a positive way (Barron, 2010). All these aspects exemplify why I chose to walk in the streets dressed in pajamas on a warm afternoon.

Setting for Norm Violation

The setting for the norm violation was on a busy street. This street is characterized by people from all walks of life. Additionally, there are numerous activities carried out in this street such as businesses, recreational activities, and roadside vending among others. In terms of time, I chose to violate the norm on a warm afternoon. Under this kind of setting, an individual is not expected to don pajamas. At the time of violating the norm, the street was virtually packed. Some people were rushing back to their respective offices after lunch while others were busy shopping for different things. Due to the prevailing warm weather, most people were dressed in light clothing in an attempt to avoid sweating. I walked briskly across the streets in my white pajamas. I ensured that I crisscrossed the street in a way that everyone could easily notice me.

 Additionally, I deliberately stopped at different stalls and outlets pretending to be window-shopping. This created an excellent opportunity for more people to have a glance at my weird dress-code. This setting was beneficial in numerous ways. Firstly, my dressing code did not create unnecessary mayhem or irrelevant disruptions. In line with this stipulation, the setting was ideal for the norm violation exercise. It took me one hour t complete the entire norm violation exercise. Consequently, I his facilitated for adequate time for making observations as pertains to the responses of people. This setting was also efficient from the perspective of costs. This is because extensive costs were not required in any of the phases for the entire exercise.

The Experience

During the norm violation exercise, I had different feelings before starting and after completing it. Before commencing the exercise, I was strongly apprehensive about the potential implications of my actions. Firstly, I was greatly concerned about how other people would judge my decision to wear pajamas on a warm afternoon. For instance, I was worried that other people might be doubtful about my mental wellbeing. Prior to the norm violation exercise, I was greatly concerned that my actions would affect me from a psychological perspective. In line with this aspect, I had concerns about walking in the same street again after the norm violation. Although the norm violation activity was in line with the local legal provisions, I felt that law enforcement officers might stop me for questioning.

 Additionally, I was worried that some members of the public might call health care officers from nearby health centers to assist me. These kinds of concerns created an element of anxiety in me. I was also perturbed by the possibility of meeting some of my close friends while dressed in pajamas. These feelings were considerably different from what I felt after completing the norm violation activity. I did not experience any sort of anxiety after completing the exercise. In essence, I was in a confident mood after the exercise. This is largely because the norm violation activity was not marred by hitches or glitches. Additionally, I was greatly relieved after completing the exercise because my actions did not cause acrimony among the different people who observed me.

Responses from other People

During the course of the norm violation activity, I observed different kinds of reactions and responses from different people. Firstly, I could observe that most people were extremely surprised at my dress code. In essence, no one expected a normal person to be walking briskly while dressed in pajamas on the streets. The look of most people’s faces illustrated just how much my actions had surprised them. My actions did not conform to the usual norms expected of the locals. When I walked past any shop, mall or vendor, people would immediately stare at me in surprise. Apart from the numerous stares, some people did not hesitate to ask me whether I was experiencing any kind of problem.

 To many people, my strange dress code left them doubtful about my wellbeing from a mental perspective. For instance, one man was not ashamed to ask me whether I was on any medication for a psychiatric problem. In this neighborhood, people are by and large concerned about the welfare of others (Sutton, 2010). This might help in justifying why some people did not hesitate to ask me about my psychological wellbeing. Interestingly, other people stared and laughed at me in amusement. It was extremely strange for them to come across an individual wearing pajama in the middle of the street. Consequently, they could not help it but burst into hysterical laughter. Whenever I walked past a group of more than two people, I noticed that they would start murmuring while staring at me continuously. They were most likely discussing my shocking wardrobe malfunctioning. One lady even offered to buy me some clothes when she met me window-shopping at a popular boutique.


The norm violation activity served as an excellent platform for me to learn extensively about norms and social control. I learnt that different people have different perceptions towards social behaviors (Marsh & Keating, 2006). What is socially acceptable in the eyes of one individual might be different from the social standards used by another person. This was evident through the different responses from the people who observed me walking in the streets dressed in pajamas. For instance, some people saw some sense of humor in my behavior while others were deeply concerned about my wellbeing from a psychiatric perspective. On the other hand, some people had guts to ask me questions directly pertaining to my dress code.

 Apart from norms and social control, I also gained valuable information about myself as a social being. I learnt that I can easily stand for what I believe in at the expense of social pressures. During the activity, I went against all odds to dress in a manner that does not conform to the social norms. Additionally, I learnt that I can easily adjust to different social perspectives depending on the prevailing situation. The norm violation activity enabled me to learn that I can interact with people who hold different philosophies.

There are various observations I made during the norm violation activity. I observed that most people are extremely used to a certain way of life within the social context. In line with this aspect, such people will always be surprised when people violate the conventional social norms (Newman, 2008). During the norm violation exercise, I also noted that some people are not willing to accommodate people who behave differently as compared to the social norms.


Barron, M. & Meier, R. F. (2010). Sociology of deviant behavior, Mason, OH: Cengage Learning

Dubois, N. (2003). Sociocognitive approach to social norms, New York, NY: Routledge

Marsh, I. & Keating, M. (2006). Sociology: Making sense of society, New York, NY:Pearson Education

Newman, D. M. (2008). Sociology: Exploring the architecture of everyday life, Pine Forge Press

Sutton, P. W. (2010). Sociology: Introductory readings, Polity Press


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