Breaking a Social Norm: Personal Space, Please What if you are traveling on a bus, and once the bus makes its stop; another man walks in, past all the available seats, and takes a seat right next to you?
He then falls asleep, leaning his head onto your shoulder. If you are an American, then you are aware that the concept of respecting personal space is a social norm, making that scenario a bit out of the norm.
Especially as norms exercise social control by teaching us consideration, and teaching us to avoid unnecessary conflict, especially in a country where we have the freedom of democracy.
I appreciate the fact that we have an understanding of the concept of personal space, because it gives us a sense of security.
This definition of abnormality is clearly dependent on the culture in which the behaviour occurs.
The social norms across societies are not the same and therefore what is abnormal in one culture is not defined as abnormal in another.On the contrary, if you are Chinese, it may be acceptable.Just place my boyfriend in the above scenario, traveling on a bus, in China, when a Chinese man walks in and falls asleep on his shoulder.She then turned her face to look at me, and I walked away with the floor mat in my hand with a smile.We later made our way over to the cash register to purchase two boxes of Betty Crocker’s brownies, when I noticed an older lady in her early fifties, ahead of me, paying at the register.I decided to conduct my little experiment at Wal-Mart with the help of my boyfriend so that I could observe the behavior of the individual(s) and he could observe the behavior of the onlooker/audience.We walked into Wal-Mart, and as I walked over to the sale rack, I noticed a teenage girl rummaging through the rack of sale items.The cashier gave her the total, and as she was peering over the card reader, looking at the total, I inched close enough to her so that we were standing elbow to elbow.This lady turned around and looked directly into my eyes and said, “Do you mind giving me my personal space? ” I took one step back; as she was watching me, she responded, “thank you.” During the duration of my experiment, I felt as if I was violating a norm.I am simply comfortable with it, and couldn’t begin to comprehend if the situation in China was reversed, and I would have been in place of my boyfriend! The basic idea is that abnormality is when a behaviour does not fit within what is socially acceptable.