Category Archives: Norms

Homosexuality

Homosexual:  those who are attracted to members of the same sex. Homosexuality is considered a deviant act and goes against the social norms and values of our culture in the minds of heterosexuals. Sexual Orientation plays a huge part in the ways in which people judge one another based off who they are as a human. There are four different types of sexual identity:  Straight, Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian, all in which plays a part in roles we play and norms of society, relating to family, gender and marriage.

We are all obligated to pay taxes and follow the laws. But as we know, many are not living by the laws nor are we really paying taxes when we put single down on our tax return because homosexual marriage is not allowed by state law. Homosexual humans  are not given the same rights as heterosexual humans because we, as deviant people, are not granted  the same respect as those who follow the norms of the culture. However, no matter your gender, race, ethic background or sexual orientation, every U.S. citizen deserves the same opportunities as everyone one else. First we need to change the definition of what marriage stands for and end using the label of “Gay” to simply two people falling in love. Ending discrimination, homophobia, ignorance and the rejection of one’s true self.

Growing up as a homosexual has been a long, confusing road, due to the ways I grew up in the church and to the beliefs that were instilled in me. We humans are being constantly hammered with a moral code that contradicts our parents telling us to express ourselves and be who we are. I’ve known I was gay since I was in the eighth grade, however, I just came out a year ago to my family and recently to my friends and made it public on Facebook. This is one of the biggest fears that I have faced, but I finally feel free to be me and being free to be who I am and who I was created to be has been one of the greatest and sweetest joys that I’ve come to know. Living a life of secrets, lies and living in the unknown of what people may say or think about me, held me in bondage.  But now I’m finally set free! Life is too short to be something you’re not. Live life to the fullest; only you can make you happy. Fight for what you believe in, after all we do have freedom of speech.

Advertisements

Feminism

No country has reached gender equality. I say this with great regret. For centuries women have been battling to achieve equality. It has taken hard work and perseverance from women to achieve even a slight change in the social construction of gender. These women, who campaign for gender equality, are called feminists. Feminists believe in feminism, which is the advocacy for the rights of women to be socially, economically, and politically equal to men.

There are three waves of feminism. The first wave began in the 19th and 20th century. In the early 1900’s, women were not to work; they were to give birth and care for their children. Men were the workers; men were the only people who had social mobility. Social mobility is the ability for an individual to “move from one position of a society’s stratification system to another” (Witt 241). Women were not to be anything other than housewives; they could not experience mobility because they had limited involvement in the workforce.

In this case, men were the instrumental leaders of the household; they handled all of the outside obligations of the family and had certain goals outside of the home. Women were the expressive leaders of the house, where they were responsible for handling the internal affairs of the family. Harriet Martineau, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Ida B. Wells, formed this theory about instrumental and expressive leaders. In their theory they recognize that the woman’s job as being an expressive leader, gives way for men to complete their instrumental tasks (307). In my understanding this is saying that, while women are at home taking care of the family, men are progressing in society because they have time to do so. This means that women cannot progress through society on their own, but merely in their husband’s shadow. Feminists are the kind of people who aspire to show other women that they too, can have goals. Feminists view themselves and other women to have the ability to be instrumental leaders. So, from a feminist point of view, not only can the man be the one who is allowed to have goals outside of the home, but women can too. Women can express themselves in whatever way they would like, and they have the ambition, will power, and intelligence to be more than just housewives.

Even in the political world in this time, women were not equal to men. Not only were not working outside of the home in large numbers, but they also could not vote. This wave of feminism is noticeable because it was in the time that there was a significant move towards gender equality. Up until 1919, women were not granted suffrage. Women were not granted the right to vote, to work, or to be a part of governmental decisions. Feminists in this time fought for their right to suffrage; they marched, they rallied, and they campaigned for equal rights. These women were tired of being oppressed; they wanted to be involved in the world around them. In 1920, feminists won one of their many battles for equality; they were granted suffrage.

In the second wave, many journalists stepped forward to pronounce their understanding of gender equality, and advocated for change in the workforce. Betty Freidan, the author of The Feminine Mystique,used both her writing and her verbal language to communicate to the public her beliefs on feminism (300). From Freidan’s understanding, women were isolated from society and did not have the social, economic or political resources to be successful. As a feminist, Friedan suggested that women should contest the thought that their goal in life is to have children and be a wife. Women needed to strive to achieve more in life and fight for the kind of life they wanted and occupation they wanted. Feminist organizations, such as the National Organization for Women, started to arise. These organizations helped to fight for women’s equality politically, while women individually fought for their social freedom.

Feminists strive to be equal to men and aim for the dollar they make to be the same dollar that men make. Today, women make about 77 cents to the dollar that a man makes. The amount of money a woman receives for the same work as a man is significantly less than what he makes, this is called the gender pay gap.

Even though the pay gap is not completely closed, there has been some success in closing it. Women in 2014, are able to work in the government, along with men. Even though they are not paid equally to men, they can achieve similar, though not equal, social statuses to them. Along with that, there are also some men who earn less than women since women have taken over a large portion of the workforce in America. Although these success stories are enticing, they also reveal the problem with the social statuses of women in the United States. Women can only go so far in the workplace; they cannot succeed men in their standing of prestige. Where men are doctors, women are nurses, if that brings upon a better understanding of the matter. There is an invisible barrier between how much a woman can achieve in relation to what a man can achieve this is called the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling stops qualified women from moving upward in the workforce. Feminists have worked hard to break this glass ceiling. But it is important to note that without feminist actions bringing women to the workforce in the first place, there would not only be a glass ceiling, there would be no work.

There is always another step to take when attempting to achieve gender equality. There are some women who have guided the way to prove that the ceiling can be broken. For example, Sheryl Sandberg has become the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, which is a highly appraised position that would normally be held by a man. The fact that a woman has taken charge of such a large corporation proves that even though society has attempted to stop strong women from achieving their goals, they do not always succeed. Feminists are the people who believe that women can be just as strong and predominant as Sandberg, Hilary Clinton, or even Michelle Obama. Feminists advocate for women to aspire to achieve the highest social status they could possibly imagine. This is because feminists do not fear such a thing as the glass ceiling, but rather see it as a challenge that they are ready to face head on.

The third wave of feminism involved advocacy for cultural freedom for women. There was this idea that women were to be uptight, clean, polite, and obedient. Women were sanctioned negatively if they broke their gender role. This idea that women were supposed to behave and dress how men wanted them to, is where the term sexism originated. Sexism is, as Jon Witt has explained it, “the ideology that claims one sex is superior to the other” (308). Men were under the impression that women dressed and behaved for them, and that everything they did, was to be for the pleasure of men. This was because women were inferior to men, and were to be submissive to their ideals. Sexism is what really started off the third wave of feminism.

Kathleen Hanna was a feminist who pushed for another wave of feminism to begin. This part of the third wave was mostly viewed and understood by millennials of the era. This is because Kathleen was in an all-girl punk band titled Bikini Kill. Many people ranging from pre-teens to those in their early twenties were deep into the punk scene. This is why this part of the wave is not found in history or sociology books, because it was sort of an underground station of feminism. Instead of soft, soothing singing and harmonious sounds, Kathleen screamed into the microphone and wore only her underwear and a t-shirt to gigs. Occasionally she would write “slut” across her stomach or some sort of label that men had given her in the past. She shouted about how men treated women like they were some sort of material good, and how women deserved just as much as what men have. Her words struck the hearts and minds of women who had been abused, neglected, and even oppressed by men. She not only played for women, but for men also. She talked about the hardships of men and how she hoped to see the day when men could be seen as sensitive creatures without being oppressed because of it. This band was a powerhouse for a large feminist movement called Riot Grrrl.

Riot Grrrl was focused on bringing women together and having them recognize their oppression. It was all about GIRL POWER. Hanna had an unladylike persona and outright opinion that turned men away from her, and brought more girls to her shows. Girls began to relate to Hanna since she sang about rape, sexism, and the oppression of women in society. When men became disgusted by Hanna’s performance and attitude, it was obvious that gender equality in this time was less about sex and more about gender. Sex is the biological difference between a man and a woman. Gender is the social and cultural differences between a man and a woman. In this case, a woman was acting out of the ordinance that society thinks that a person of the female gender should act. The female gender is supposed to be petite, clean, and quiet. The male gender can be vile, gross, and loud. So when Hanna broke the socially constructed norm for the female gender, she was deemed as deviant. Even though Hanna was deviant, that did not stop her feminist movement. Riot Grrrl expanded, and even more women started to break their gender roles. This opened up an entirely new world of feminism, one where it was a culture, rather than just a movement. Still today Riot Grrrl exists, along with many other feminist organizations. The purpose of the Riot Grrrl movement and of Bikini Kill was to allow women to express themselves however they wanted. If a woman wanted to dress like a man at a Bikini Kill show, that was accepted, she was accepted no matter how she looked or acted. Eventually, this movement of the 1990’s encouraged women to express themselves freely. Obviously, women are still pressured through gender roles, but there are more women acting freely now than there were many years ago.

Still, today, women are advocating feminism. Why, might you ask? Well, because gender inequality is still an immense problem in not only the United States, but all around the world. One of the main dilemmas with feminism is that, not everyone truly understands what it means. The definition can be disoriented, because there are so many pop stars that are skewing the understanding of the word. There are famous people who are making it seem as if feminism is hatred towards men, and that feminists should rally against men. This understanding of feminism is far from correct. Like I said before, feminism is the advocacy for women to be equal to men. That is taking into consideration that men have been oppressed also, and there are gender norms for men, just like there are for women. So, instead of fighting against men, it is better for us to inspire men to fight with us. An actress that campaigned for feminism brilliantly was Emma Watson. Emma began a campaign called He for She, which asks men to promote equality for women through social media. This helped to invite men to express themselves as feminists, because before it was as if they were not allowed to be part of the movement. Women like Emma Watson are changing the future of our women. It is important that females, look to people like Emma and Kathleen, and never give up on fighting for equality. Equality is what we have been fighting for, for years. After centuries, we still have not achieved gender equality. There is still a gender pay gap, sexism still exists, and so do the norms for men and women in society.

Gender equality needs to be the objective for our children, our grandchildren, and even our grandchildren’s children. Feminism must not die out like it did after its second wave, and it needs to be understood for what it really means; men and women deserve to be equal to one another.

— Danielle

Works Cited:  Witt, Jon. SOC 2014. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2015. Print.

One-Child Policy

As a product of China’s One Child Policy, it is safe to say that I have had my fair share of inequality. I, like many other females, had been abandoned for a reason that was and still is undoubtedly idiotic. Parents wanted males. This way of acting and thinking can be considered a norm because of the influences that were passed down from generation to generation. Can you believe that there’s still so little value in being female?  I can’t, but I understand better when I know some of the history of the nation’s beliefs. Historically, it was decided that patrilineal descent would be more important than a female’s descent. As time went on, this idea became widespread in China. Their culture has lived and thrived through traditional values until the One Child Policy was introduced. The father of the male within a couple’s relationship would be very influential to their procreation because it is considered unacceptable to dishonor a family and their history.

In 1980, the Chinese government enacted the one-child policy to stunt the rapidly growing population. As time progressed, the culture began adapting to this new rule.  There was a limit to the chances of getting that coveted son now.  What would they do? In fact, anything they could. Parents sometimes went to seemingly horrible means to get that son. As medical technology evolved, women would ask for a doctor to determine the sex of their unborn. If the results were favored by the couple they would keep the baby, otherwise they would abort it if they were not pleased. If the wife/ girlfriend did not agree to abortion, they would go through with the pregnancy but then give up the child to a foster family or an orphanage. Within orphanages the life of an infant would have been no better if not worse than death. From 1980 up to present day, families have given away their children to the one-child policy. Yes, this has effectively stunted the growth of  China’s population but because of their love for males it has created a grave imbalance ratio of men to women. If a families were to just keep female children,  it would help catch up the lead that males have over females.

Orphanages were the next best alternative at the time for women who didn’t want their female kin to die. For the lucky few like me, they were adopted out of the poor conditions provided by orphanage staff. A newborn who was not as lucky would have been bound in place by their legs and arms in potty stools all day long with no interaction from staff members (“Dying”). While I stated that they sat in potty stools, I did not state that they were changed regularly.  For babies that were less than a year old they laid in cribs wrapped up in one diaper with layers of plastic and blankets for days on end (“Dying”). This lack of sanitation is unhealthy and cruel for babies who have done nothing evil in the world. The simplest way to fix this would be to provide a little more carefor these children by the orphanage staff.

To be a female in China right now is fantastic, but back in the 90’s it felt shameful. Economic level played a role also in childbearing.  Families who were looking to have more than one child would have had to be rich due to the fines that were handed out for each illegal child born. Currently the Chinese government has been loosening up its reins on the policy and has stopped enforcing it so heavily. They are posting signs and posters all over the country promoting female babies.

— Leah

 

Ethnic Group

Stereotypes are all around us. If a person is considered “ethnic,” then a stereotype is bound to be associated with their “group.” But before we even discuss ethnicity, it is good do define just what it means.  According to Cambridge Dictionary, to be ethnic means “relating to or characteristic of a large group of people who have the same national, racial, or cultural origins, and who usually speak the same language.” In reading this definition, it would seem to be a relative term, because just “who” are these groups compared to in order to be considered a large group? Coming from a father who is 100% Italian and a mother who is 100% Lebanese, am I then a part of a “sub-ethnic” group? I do not know many large groups of Lebanese-Italian people. With that said, stereotypes are bound to be associated with what some deem as “different.” Again, different from who? Well, we all know stereotypes exist. We all know that living in the United States, if you are not a White-Anglo Saxon Protestant, then you are considered a minority/different/ethnic/other….

Yes, I am one of those ethnic people, who comes from a big, diverse, family, who can out laugh and out eat just about any of their neighborhood pals. When my friends come to my house, the first thing they would do is ask is “what did your mom cook today?” Yes, my mom is an awesome cook, who can make the best Lebanese or Italian dishes on any given night…Or “hey, is your dad home, he scares the *&#$ out of me!” Yes, my dad is a big Italian man, with lots of “family connections,” reaching back to Naples, Italy.  It’s a funny thing to be considered ethnic, because, I don’t see myself or my family as different, because I can’t imagine us being any other way. But, I know firsthand that being an “ethnic” person does come with its share of xenophobic encounters.

My Lebanese grandparents came to the U.S. in 1970, and they have genuinely lost count of how many times their home has been egged or toilet papered. Especially after the 9/11 attacks, suddenly my grandparent’s neighbors became slowly distant, erecting fencing all around their homes. Yes, on both sides of their house! But, these acts of pure hatred, just because we are considered “different,” do not fuel hatred in the hearts of my family, rather, it invokes a sense of pity upon those who carry out deeds of idiocy due to needless fear of the unknown. Above and beyond all of these issues, ethnicity will always vary from family to family. To have one pure ethnic group is rather impossible and borders on “Hitler-esque” insanity. Finally, to be considered “ethnic” is an okay thing and it will always exist as long as people are considered to be different from the established societal norm. “Be proud of who you are and where you came from,” my grandmother always told me, “or else, we would live in a very boring and lonely world.”

— Dario

 

Bisexuality

The concept that I decided to pick is bisexual.  An explanation of this concept would be when someone that is either a male or female is attracted to both genders. An example of this sexual orientation would be when I was in high school, I had someone in my grade that was a bisexual and it took me a while to realize what was going on. It seemed like one day she had a boyfriend and was holding his hand and stuff and then the next day she was with a girl acting the same way. I thought maybe the girl was her best friend or something but then I found out that they were more than friends when I saw them kiss.

In some cultures people would think of this in terms of heteronormativity, which means that it is considered a deviant behavior because they believe that everyone should be heterosexual. Being bisexual can be a problem because some people get offended by it and might judge them. Most people don’t like things that are out of the norm, and might react in vicious ways like bullying someone who is bisexual. This could happen anywhere but I could imagine that the making fun of would be worse in high school.

Bullying can cause major damage to a human emotionally, no matter what gender they are attracted too. Being brought down emotionally can cause major depression, suicide, and other harmful things. We can’t stop bullying entirely because people are going to do it no matter what. But we can try to prevent it by saying something when

–Mariah

Dual Income Family

Growing up, I always thought that I had a normal family living the American dream.  I had two parents who worked full time, a white house in the suburbs, a baby brother to look after and a golden retriever to play fetch with in our back yard.  I owned decent clothes, went to a decent school and ate a decent diet.  We went on vacations to places like Disney World, Universal Studios and Discovery Cove for breaks during the school year and camping in the summer.  Now we didn’t own a pool, have the biggest flat screen on the block or the nicest cars in the neighborhood.  We hardly went out to eat and if we did it was only on special occasions like birthdays or some other kind of celebration.  I didn’t get my license until I was 17 years old because of the cost of the insurance rates.  I wasn’t given a car for my 16th, 17th, or even 18th birthday.  I had to get a job and save up for two years to afford the vehicle I have now and the phone I now own.  My parents have been married for 30 years and have had the same jobs for the past 20.  My mom works at MSU and my dad AAA Car Insurance.  They tell me that we are considered a dual income middle class family. Everything I had ever experienced I assumed that everyone else did too with their families and it was considered normal.  So that got me thinking, what if your parents aren’t married?  Is marriage really necessary these days to have a dual income?  And if not, what is considered normal?

Over 50% of married couples have a dual income with a wife and husband in the labor force.  Because women now have the chance to pursue job opportunities that had been closed to them for several years, women are now able to help support the household.  With most couples finding it hard to live off of one income, this is, I believe, one of the major reasons why people get married.  People marry so that they have the financial stability amongst each other.  Being married has its pros and cons.  You have your medical and financial benefits, your choice of luxury material goods, and for religious purposes the bond between a man and woman for life.  Of course you have your legal obligations as a spouse.  You made vows to one another to only be with one another.  Your finances should be discussed with each other on how you’re going to distribute the money because you now share each other’s income.  You have to decide what should be spent and what should be saved.   Some couples find this to be too difficult or strenuous for whatever reason and break the marital bond and get a divorce.

With divorce becoming more common since the mid- 70’s, many couples find it easier to split.    In some cases, I feel that divorce is necessary.  If it’s something as serious as your spouse cheating on you it creates a negative atmosphere for the children, a broken trust and a problem within the household and you as a spouse have to make the decision of what to do and what the outcomes will be.    With getting a divorce come’s the split of the family assets, financial and medical benefits, and the possibility of having to move and the stability of the family unit.  You might have to limit your material goods, focus on the necessities with the fact of becoming a single-parent family.  Even though it’s a big change within a household, it could be very beneficial to the children and to the spouse in the long run.  With the media frequently reporting that 1 out of every 2 marriages will end in divorce, many people are questioning the  idea of why we should get married at all if we only have a 50% chance of making it work?

Recently, couples living together without holding that marital status is becoming more and more common.  Statistics show that more than 75 percent of opposite-sex couples are unmarried and cohabitating.  For me this is the case for most of my friends.  They live with their boyfriends/girlfriends in an apartment and share a sexual relationship.  I don’t judge my friends or others for making this choice because it is their own.  I personally don’t think that this is a good idea but I don’t view them any differently.  I view it more as a personal preference.  With my religious beliefs, I think that you should wait until you get married to move in with one another.  Living together should be one of the first journeys you take on as husband and wife and should be a positive one.   Some say you should test the relationship to see if you can handle living with each other before you make that commitment.  I see it more as something to work on with each other so you can find that balance between one another.  I find that trying to figure out where the peanut butter should go is petty, and something like this shouldn’t be the reason why a couple shouldn’t move in with each other; though most of my friends tell me things like this are some of the main reasons.  I find this to be quite funny.

As I ask more and more people about the matter and their views on marriage and what it means they all have their own views.  Some say its old fashioned and expensive and there’s no real need to walk down the aisle.  Others say marriage isn’t really necessary, that if you truly love the person you don’t need a piece of paper to prove it.  The remaining say that marriage is a legal commitment to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.  Even though they all have different views on the matter their answers are all driven by love.  The stigma once attached to cohabitation is much diminished from the past.  Couples living together can now have that dual income without the pressure of being married.  Nowadays society doesn’t judge as harshly as it once did.  Families who have married parents, divorced parents, or unmarried parents living together it’s all socially acceptable.  It’s all now considered normal.

SOCIAL NORMS

Without the social norms that we abide by each and every day, there would be absolutely no expectations of how anyone is supposed to “normally” behave. From the moment we wake up on our mattress, usually atop a box spring and frame (the standard sleeping structure in western culture); we follow the norms that have been taught to us since the moment we entered onto this earth.

I think that maintaining these norms, and being seen as normal for abiding by them, are of extreme importance to nearly everyone in every society. To fit in is everyone’s ultimate goal. In order to retain the importance of the norms we’ve constructed, we have created different levels of negative sanctions to deal with the disobedient social deviants. Whether it be conscious or subconscious, every time we view someone falling outside of norms we think negatively of them and react in various ways, from simply rolling our eyes to picking up a phone and dialing the police (depending on the severity of the norm breaking).

who_thisweek_26092011_17731gr-17731h2Norms in society can range from things that are seemingly insignificant as the kind of clothes we wear to things that are considered law. We consider these small norms to be folkways, and little concern is raised when someone decides to deviate from them. Although it is a folkway to wear casual clothing, such as jeans in what is considered a casual setting, no one is too bothered by someone deciding to “dress up” in something more along the lines of a suit jacket or a nice dress.  Norms that are deemed more necessary and absolute, such as driving on a specific side of the road, or refraining from murder, are referred to as mores. These mores are often written down formally whether in formats such as a school handbook, driving manual, or in laws defended by the government. Once written down, these norms are considered to be formal norms, as opposed to informal norms, which are generally grasped by the population, but not necessarily written down. Example of informal norms are the common etiquettes we’ve been raised with, such as not being “too loud” in a public environment or grocery shopping from the store aisles as opposed to someone else’s cart.

japanese_card_exchange

Negative sanctions are not the only sanctions to exist in our world of norms. Positive sanctions are seen just as often as negative sanctions. We’re given positive sanctions for obeying our norms through our good grades in schools, promotions and pats on the back at work, and general statuses in life. Because the average person obeys the norms laid out for them, they will have many more opportunities than someone who has deviated from these norms, such as a convicted felon.  Other than the obvious jail time and/or fines, felons are negatively sanctioned beyond that to continuously remind them of their wrongdoings. These sanctions can include: refusal to enter other countries, not being allowed a job in childcare or public office, etc., whereas these travel and job opportunities are seemingly very basic and attainable to the Average Joe.

tumblr_l8vf4zt3wb1qdpi3fo1_500My personal view of norms is exceptionally mixed. On one hand, I feel that norms suffocate any real sense of self and individualism. However, on the other hand, I recognize the importance of providing someone with violent tendencies a standard at which to abide by so that they don’t act on possible homicidal urges. Unfortunately because norms are so heavily relied upon, they are the major players in creating the petty insecurities we feel on a daily basis. I think that if the norms laying in the more aesthetic/subjective spectrum (such as clothing and beauty standards of the gender binary, grooming habits, interest in pop culture, etc) were to be given less focus and attention, the world would be a much happier place. If everyone could mind their own business and pay no mind as to what someone chooses to wear or who they feel like having a relationship with, it’s my belief that suicide would not be nearly as prevalent; especially in those who strain the importance of such things- teenagers. Instead of constantly having to conform and act off of what we think is “normal” our Me and I could just be one, and there wouldn’t have to be so much stress put on our looking glass self. Bullying wouldn’t exist and Ugg boots would’ve not been so vital to every fourteen-year-old girls existence. But in order to do this, one of the important factors would be to significantly cut the amount of corporate advertising shown in all forms of media. Given that in 2010 advertisers spent fifty billion dollars on television advertising alone (Ad Age), one could say cutting such a thing would be detrimental to the United States economy. Although it’s obvious that petty folkway norms can be seemingly of so much more importance in our daily lives, and cause a myriad of self detriment- I don’t think there’s any realistic way in the foreseeable future to be rid of them.

DEVIANCE

We have all seen them, “gangsters” walking around with saggy pants and baggy sweatshirts known for causing trouble and committing crime, or Goth’s with gaged ears and all black attire, known for being emotionally unstable and violent. These people are said to be deviant, with norms and values that differ from those of the greater society. These subcultures create their own norms and values that others see to be different, or deviant.

Norms are an established standard of behavior maintained by a society.  Norms can be formal, informal, folkways or mores. Formal norms are those that generally have been written down and specify strict punishment if violated. Laws are an example of formal norms. Informal norms are those that are understood but not necessarily recorded. Examples of informal norms include how one behaves in a college level classroom. Folkways are norms that govern everyday behavior but do not result in much concern if violated. Wearing acceptable clothing is an example of a folkway. Lastly, mores are norms that are seen as necessary to the welfare of society, and are based on what is right and wrong. Religious doctrines are an example of mores. Defying any of these norms can result in an individual being perceived as deviant. For an individual to conform is for him or her to go along with peers, acting in a similar manner. Just as one can conform to society, that is following social norms, one can also conform to a deviant group, acting in a way that is different from the rest of society.

Perhaps the most recognized deviant groups in society are criminals. Criminals can be individuals who commit crimes such as murder or assault, or small crimes such as income tax evasion or misinterpretation of advertisement. Whether the crime was a violent crime resulting in extreme punishment, or a small senseless one with little recognition, every move we make as humans has a sanction. Sanctions are tactics used by society to penalize or reward individuals for their behavior. Negative sanctions used for criminal activity, for example, include jail or prison sentencing, fines and community service. These sanctions are largely responsible for the “good behavior” of society, as individuals stray from behavior that could result in these negative sanctions. Positive sanctions are also part of keeping society under control, so to speak. These sanctions include praise or rewards for good behavior, such as a student being on the honor roll, or getting certificates for perfect attendance. Sanctions are a means of encouraging conformity to the standards of society, while also preventing individuals from becoming deviant.

All types of sanctions are a part of social control.  “We create norms to provide social order . . . we enforce them through social control – the techniques and strategies for preventing deviant human behavior in any society” (Witt 130). Social control can be exercised in families, by parents, in colleges, by teachers, or in government by the police or legislature. One example of social control in schools is the hidden curriculum. Just as sanctions teach individuals what is socially acceptable throughout life, the hidden curriculum is used in schools to teach children what behaviors are acceptable. For example, students learn to speak only when they are called on, and are taught how to socialize with authority figures in an acceptable way. These lessons are ones that will be critical throughout life, to conform to society.

Teachers are likely to have a life-long effect on their students. Not only do teachers demonstrate socially acceptable behavior to students, but they often label students as well. Labeling can both help and hurt a child while growing up. For example, if the teacher labels a student as dishonest at a young age, that child is likely to keep that label throughout his or her education. Labeling can also be seen as a sort of stereotyping. African Americans have been labeled as delinquents, bad kids or criminals for years. Labeling a group of people as bad, in this case, puts them at a disadvantage because they are more likely to accept that label.

Norms are more important in everyday life than most people know. Without norms, we would not know how to work together, how to work individually, or how to function as an entire community. Although there are disadvantages of having norms, such as having deviant individuals, norms are an absolute necessity of society.

 

Works Cited

Lunchcountersitin, . “Incarceration Rate per 100,000 Residents.” Chart. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009). Web.

Maricopa CountyJail. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://maricopacountyjail.net/&gt;.

Sackermann, Joern. Germany, Gothic People. Lightstalkers, Cologne. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Stylephotographs, . African Student Raising her Hand in University Class. 123RF. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Witt, Jon. SOC. 2012th ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.

CULTURE SHOCK

Culture shock is defined as the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes (oxforddictionaries.com, 2013).  It is what happens when one encounters people, or groups, that have a different set of values, norms, and even laws.  Culture shock can even happen within a certain country, if that country is diverse enough. For example, one might experience culture shock when going from northern Michigan to Texas. There are things such as the weather, food, and dialect that are different from what one considers normal if from northern Michigan. To better understand what culture shock is, one must better understand what a culture is.  Wherever one lives in the world, culture is comprised of norms, folkways, mores, laws, and even includes languages to name a few.

Have you sat in a movie theater and watched as everyone got quiet once the movie started?  Or how you just know how to act while you’re attending church?  What about how we raise our hands to ask a question in class?  These are norms of our society, or in other words, what people have decided is acceptable.  There are different types of norms for different societies.  For example,  folkways deal with norms within a particular society.  A folkway is a norm that when broken, it is not that big of a deal even if a norm is broken. You will still be made aware that what you did was wrong, but you will live to see another day.  A good example that comes to mind is for men in particular. When using the urinal, you are supposed to stand at least two urinals away from the next person. Where is this rule written?  It is not written, but if you were to go stand right next to another man at a urinal when there are other spaces available, you would be sanctioned.  For example, the man you stood next to might leave in a hurry, or give you a dirty look, because what you did is considered wrong.  Mores are norms that are taken more seriously and obedience to must be necessary for society.  Mores are usually made into laws. These laws are enforced with more serious sanctions, such as prison, to make sure our obedience is mandatory.

These patterns of society help create our culture. Society needs these patterns of behavior to survive.  Without these, we would easily fall into chaos caused by the lack of rules.  Think of a school room full of students without the teacher.  The children will go wild, pulling hair and running around, with no one to object. In doing so, they break the norms of the class room. Nothing would be able to be accomplished until the teacher returns to establish the norms.  Without those norms in place, the children were not able to learn and advance; staying in the same state until the norms were again in force.

Now that we better understand what culture is and consists of, we can talk about culture shock.  I experienced this when I went from Michigan to the country of Malawi. I was trading not only countries, but races as well.  As I went from the dreary parts of Michigan to the warm heart of Africa, I could not help but feel out-of-place.  The people talked different, transportation was odd to me, and do not get me started on the food.  As I immediately began comparing the two places, for a time, I began to think my home was better, simply because we did not eat caterpillars and all (for the most part) spoke the same language.  Although those thoughts passed as I spent more time there, I now realize that to be Ethnocentrism.  I feel bad holding what I was used to as being better than where I was, but that is a fairly common thing to do.  Looking back, I think that Ethnocentrism could even be the founder of racism.  It would not be very hard for those feelings of, “My culture is better than yours,” to lead to the idea that, “I am better than you.”

As time went on, I became more acceptable to the culture and the people around me. In turn, it became easier for me to practice cultural relativism, or the judging of peoples’ behaviors based on their own culture.  For instance, eating bugs as part of a meal.  In America, it is considered disgusting, however, in Malawi it would be considered normal.  So as I began to practice cultural relativism, I no longer deemed that as wrong and took part in such cultural activities.

While I was in Malawi, I went to some interesting places.  Once, we were invited into a very wealthy Indian man’s home.  I felt so strange because I was still in Malawi, but everything I had come to associate Malawi with was gone.  Instead of a dirt floor, he had tile.  He told us that he resented the dirtiness of most of the people there.  He almost lived to set himself apart from the dirtiness of the rest of the country.  As we left this man’s home, we looked around and realized that there was a whole group of people who felt the same way.  This counter-culture openly opposed the main culture of Malawi, but they could not get rid of the main culture entirely.

New Picture

As I moved from the warm heart of Africa to the neighboring country, Zambia, I noticed that because of the size of the country and number of different tribes, it was hard for them to be united under one culture.  In the north, you had the Bembas, in the south was the Tongas, and eastward was home of the Chewas.  These subcultures were still able to relate to most things, but you just knew that they were different.   They differed in their mores, folkways, and values of the larger society (Jon, 2011, 63). I believe that the shared main culture within all of the tribes of Zambia is what keeps it together. If a country lacks that main culture similarity and there are competing cultures fighting for dominance, the result may very well be civil war.  Looking at the civil war in the United States, the culture of the South was to have slaves while the culture in the North was anti-slavery.  The two different cultures were so close to each other, within the same country, the differences could only be solved by war.

Culture is very much a part of who we are.  Every day we are shaped by our culture and the rules that come with it.  We need our culture to hold us together and help society to continue to advance.  When we are placed into a culture that we do not relate with, we are shocked.

Works Cited

“Culture Shock”. OxfordUniversity Press. 2013 2/23/13 <http://oxforddictionaries.com/definitino/english/culture%2Bshock

Witt, Jon. Soc 2012 Ed. Boedeker, Gina. New York: McGraw-Hill. 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSJFBeVFtak  Youtube.com Posted by: Fallon Burke, 2009

http://romeoandjulietdebate.wikispaces.com/file/view/800px-Quarter-4-benchmark-group2.jpg/126626615/800px-Quarter-4-benchmark-group2.jpg  Titled Chaos in Classroom.  Classinex.com.br

CULTURAL RELATIVISM

“He who Marches out of step hears another drum”

–Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

The easiest way to address the idea of cultural relativism is to consider the norms of the society that we are accustomed to. A norm is the behavior that we deem normal or acceptable. There are different types of norms including Folkways (everyday behavior), Mores (thought necessary in a society), Formal Norms (laws), and Informal Norms (things society sees as normal that are not written laws). Examples of these everyday norms are: dressing appropriately for work (Folkways), the act of adultery (Mores), paying taxes (Formal Norms), or how to react when entering a classroom (Informal norm). But norms change. Cultural relativism is the practice of looking at differences in society through that society’s eyes. This is an idea of objectively considering the acts, traditions, or behaviors of a culture different from your own. It is an unbiased process of analyzing a world that we are not accustom to, because it was not the culture we were socialized into. This act of socialization that occurs when we are young and continually occurs as we grow is the process that teaches us what to view as a norm and what to view as deviant.  The extreme opposite of Culture Relativism is Ethnocentrism. This is where a culture is analyzed for its differences in a negative manner. In other words, ethnocentrism is seeing traditions and beliefs that are different from your own, comparing the two, and favoring your own.

An example of these processes can be applied to the pictures above. On the left there is a girl who has scars on her face. These scars are purposeful and deemed as normal and positive in the society she was raised. The scars are a way to identify her with the village that she came from. The girl on the right has a tattoo on her shoulder. This is also a purposeful and positive symbol that she has decided to place upon her body. Both of these acts are similar, they have both scared their skin for life in order to identify with their culture or a value that they hold. Seeing this as it was previously stated, would be looking at these processes through a culturally relativistic view. Seeing only the girl with a primitive way of identifying with her village, or a girl who paid to mar her body with an insignificant picture would be an ethnocentric view of their cultural values and normative practices.

 

Works Cited

“One Few Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Quotes.” Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., n.d. Web. 25 Feb 2013. http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2100252-one-flew-over-the-cuckoo-s-nest

“Cultural Relativism, Basic Concepts.” Sociology Gide. SEO Expert Chennai, n.d. Web. 25 Feb 2013. http://www.sociologyguide.com/basic-concepts/Cultural-Relativism.php