Break the Social Norms

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Mark Zuckerberg once said, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds but more openly and with more people and that social norm is just something that has evolved over time.” In any society almost everything we do in life is judged with other people and development set of guidelines.

Social norms are very important for any society. Following social norms let people in society to keep their behavior at the level of norm at that society. Norm is very important to our society because keeps every citizen to follow’s the right path and check themselves for their behavior. According to “Constructions Of Deviance” written by Peter Adler, Adler discusses about “three types of norms, folkways, mores, and laws. He defined folkways as simple everyday norms based on custom, tradition, or etiquette.

Common folkway norms include standard of dress, demeanor, physical closeness to or distance from others, and eating behavior”. (P.11) Although there are many factors that can explain about breaking a social norms. In my opinion breaking a social norm can make people feel uncomfortable and could pull people out of their comfort zones. The social norm that I broke did not cause any physical harm or mental harm to me or any body else and it’s not something I could get arrested for either. I have undertaking the task of breaking a social norm with in going to shopping mall and trying to walk backwards.

It was a weird and very uncomfortable experience for me, especially as an older person in this society. We all know that a human follows certain social norms that allow us to interact properly within the society we live in. Breaking the social norms is more comment and more understandable for younger people to do and more unusual for older people to do because everyone think older people are more experience and mature.

People can easer except and understand the unusual act of breaking the norm from younger generation. When I walk to the shipping mall with my younger son “Aiden”, he was curious about my action. I try to explain about concepts of social norm in sociology and behavioral expectation that’s social norm tells us to do in any given situation. I told him my plan is to walk backward front of that entire people in the shopping mall. I try to explain that, walking backward might seem silly but it’s good for our body and, our mind because it has some other health benefits for us.

In the book “Constructions Of Deviance” written by Peter Adler, Adler discusses about “norms are integral components of any social system; they guide expected behavior and are based on value viewed as important. Some sociologists have suggested that norms can be dually conceptualized as encompassing the idealized and the more realistic or operative. In essence, the more idealized norms are really values”. (P.30) When we think of a norm, we are probably thinking about being normal. When we arrived at the shopping mall, mall was very busy because of the holiday’s season.

Initially On that Friday evening (Black Friday), I had this fears of social retribution for the action I will take in breaking a social norm. However, after I start to walk backwards, I focused more on the consequences. I noticed that all people that would pass by me would look at me as a stupid 45 years old woman going against societal norms. Some people were annoyed and I could trace it on the movements of their eyes. It was a really hard and shameful act for me but when some people pass by me and just ignored my behavior, I felt a little relived having observed that people were ignoring me. I was forced to break the norm and I tried to be more creative about it.

My ten-year-old son was very excited about this action and from the beginning he tried to copy me, he thought we were very cool for doing this kind of behavior in front of other people. When a security guard walked up to us and asked us to stop walking the opposite way, I was surprised and I asked why? He explained to me “walking backward is not safe because of the safety of yourself and other people in the shopping mall will be put at risk”.

This interaction with this mall security guard reminded me of social control in society, Social control is where norms, rules, and laws of the social structure of society regulate behaviors. According to lecture “ Definition of Social Control is Sanctions or other overt reactions to deviant behavior or condition and can Implies a deliberate attempt to change behavior”. (Ashtian 8/29/18). In my experience of the breaking the norm, which I explained more about it later in this paper, basically showed that norms can be viewed as all the petty and the serious things combined in which all citizens should abide by.

In my experience of breaking the norm, I learned sometimes you can even break the low with not following the social norm in our society. Formal norms are pretty much what we call laws in our society and for having a safe society people have to follow the formal norms. After my experiment wasn’t that successful in the shopping mall I decided to go to another public environment such as a restaurant or food court. I break the social norm by walking backward in a food court in front of people sitting together at a table often are comfortable enough with each other and they had a lovely lunch together.

I try to get close to their personal space and walking to another table near their table. People are looking at me as a stranger that I sat next to them. I sat next to the older female who was African- American. She was sitting with herself had headphone on. When I try to walk to the food court to pick up my food and continued walking backsword, I dropped my salad tray on the side of the table facing her, she looked up and seemed very surprised and kind of angry of my action. Judging by her shocked facial expression, and she asks me if everything is ok with me?

I answer her that, I’m totally fine and my action is part of my experiment of the breaking the social norm for my sociology class. I ask her how her day was; although she seemed more relaxed than before and reluctant to answer, she finally told me that she is fine and proceeded to look down and eat her meal. The results of this weird action of me were varied between annoyed, amused and just plain confused. In the book “Constructions Of Deviance” Adler discuss that “ the process of constructing and applying the definition of deviance can be understood as a moral enterprise.

That is, it involves the constructions of moral meaning and the association of them with specific acts or conditions. (P.149) In my experience of breaking the social norms does not have any legal consequences, but it can have a major impact on a persons social life because it makes people very uncomfortable being around me can mark me as a weird and different person. The labeling theory is a good example of this action. Labeling theory is a sociological view that talk about negative societal reaction to an individual’s wrongdoing can lead the individual to become more deviant.

According to lecture “Labeling theory examines that how people are defined as deviant and why some acts are ignored. But not everyone is considered as a deviant are the circumstances surrounding the act of labeling and the consequences of so being labeled.” (Ashtiani 9/24/18) In conclusion, sometimes the consequence of breaking a social norm is that you break a law too. Liked after I got stop by sectary guard in the shopping mall to not walk backward because of safety.

Laws are frequently developed around social norms and we should not break the norms because norms are created by standard behavior that is maintained by our society. Norms are represented as a strong influence on human social interactions and provide order in society. Most of us, in most suction, conform to the guidelines provided by the role we perform.


  1. Adler, Patricia A., and Peter Adler. Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction. Cengage Learning, 2016. (PAGE 11)
  2. Adler, Patricia A., and Peter Adler. Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction. Cengage Learning, 2016. (PAGE 30)
  3. Adler, Patricia A., and Peter Adler. Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction. Cengage Learning, 2016. (PAGE 149)
  4. Ashtiani, Mariam (8/29/18). Lecture “Constructing Deviance-Moral Entrepreneurs.” CSUF.
  5. Ashtiani, Mariam (9/24/18). Lecture “Constructing Deviance-Moral Entrepreneurs.” CSUF.


Cite this paper

Break the Social Norms. (2021, May 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/break-the-social-norms/



What does it mean to break social norms?
Breaking social norms means going against the unwritten rules and expectations of a society or culture, which can result in disapproval or even punishment from others. It can be a way of challenging the status quo and bringing attention to issues or ideas that are often overlooked or ignored.
What happens when a social norm is broken?
A social norm is a set of expectations about how people ought to behave in a given social context. When a social norm is broken, it can disrupt the social order and lead to negative consequences for the person who breaks the norm.
What's an example of breaking a social norm?
An example of breaking a social norm would be if someone were to walk around naked in public. This would be considered inappropriate and breaking the social norm of public decency.
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