Free Essay Example: Description of Social Norm

Published: 2023-03-06
Free Essay Example: Description of Social Norm
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Society Human behavior Community Social issue
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 612 words
6 min read

By definition, a social norm is an accepted code of conduct that engenders values, traditions, and customs that are acceptable among individuals of particular groups, such as culture, family, school or nation. The social norm that I was interested in was dress code and how it serves to shape society's expectations of context as well as prediction of what is often considered appropriate dressing. To this end, I decided to break the norm of dress code in two environments, the beach, and the city streets. To break tradition, I wore a winter coat and a scarf complete with gloves and boots to the beach on a sunny afternoon. On another occasion, I wore my pajamas and took a taxi to the central business district and walked about on the streets in town for an hour. On each of these occasions, I evaluated the surroundings to gauge the reactions of members of the public about my appearance.

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At the beach, I was stared at more than in the city streets. However, on both occasions, I seemed out of place and people around me looked on with wonder perhaps thinking to themselves that I was crazy. One man stopped me in the city and said, "stupid, you left home in your pajamas" as if to imply that I forgot to wear my suit to work. For this reason, I felt like I was in the spotlight and that people found me to be weird both at the beach and on the city streets. The feeling of awkwardness engulfed me as I passed people who kept on staring and hurling insults or obnoxious statements. For instance, at the beach someone yelled "you are dressed for the wrong season ass hole" as if he was offended by my attire. In this regard, I felt like I was making people uncomfortable as I was breaking the dress code norm in both situations.

Lessons Learned

I chose to break the dress code norm because in my culture people dress differently for various occasions. It is not uncommon to be half-naked on the beach but the same dressing cannot be acceptable when going on a trip to the museum, it would seem out of place. My intrigue in how people find dressing appropriate or inappropriate and their reactions to these was the motivation behind electing the dress code norm. The exercise confirmed my assumptions at the start that dress code does align to context where a mismatch may bring about feelings of discomfort and awkwardness among individuals who notice that the dress code norm has been broken. Moreover, I also learned that as a society people are conditioned to expect to dress of a certain kind in one context as opposed to another and appropriateness of dress code is defined by the context or environment in which people are interacting.

Recommendations for Improvement

Given another opportunity to conduct this experiment on the dress code norm, I would take bolder steps to provoke more outstanding reactions from the members of the public. For instance, at the beach, I would wear a ski mask complete with snow surfing attire and try to mimic someone on the snow but on the sands of the beach. On the other hand, in the city streets, I would wear a bikini and no shoes. Walking around would then elicit some significant reactions from members of the public who would not hesitate to express their discontentment or discomfort with my kind of dressing. I believe this improvement would generate elaborate observations in the form of reactions from society in both contexts.


Pauer-Studer, H. (1994). Norms, values, and society. New York: Springer Science + Business Media Dordrecht.

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