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Essay 2 ENGL-118 Ho Gung Hiu 1 INTRO + THESIS: It is an obvious fact that social norms are a major part of the daily life, as an adult and even as a teenager. Each and every one of us has to follow the norm, because social norms are a group of cultures that the majority believe. As a result, they can either benefit or harm our society in different ways. In other words, social norms help us to create order in our society, and they help us to judge the appropriateness of our own behavio
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  Essay 2 ENGL-118 Ho Gung Hiu 1   INTRO + THESIS: It is an obvious fact that social norms are a major part of the daily life, as an adult and even as a teenager. Each and every one of us has to follow the norm, because social norms are a group of cultures that the majority believe. As a result, they can either benefit or harm our society in different ways. In other words, social norms help us to create order in our society, and they help us to judge the appropriateness of our own behaviors. Because we have such a need for those  benefits, we may need to face prejudice if we break the norms. In fact, this tendency to reject norm breakers is part of the problem created by social norms. Precisely, social norms cause  problems like: create friction for change and affect our judgment. FIRST BENEFIT: First and foremost, social norms help us to maintain stability in our society. For example, norm makes us to wait in line without having a staff to tell us to line up. Saul McLeod is a psychology lecture at university of Manchester. In his article call ed “Social Roles” , which addressed the  benefit of having social norms, McLeod argues that social norms can create order in society. He says, “it is difficult to see how human society could operate without them. How would we know the right ways to behave? How would we know that what to expect in a particular social situation? The short answer is that we wouldn‟t” (McLeod 1). Also, in his article “The norms of social roles and conformity”. He mentioned an experiment, which was done by a social psychologist who named Phillip Zimbardo in 1973, studied the norms between prisoner and guard. He concludes, “The prisoners soon fell into their expected role, too, adopting prisoner  -like behavior. For example, they „told tales‟ on each other to the guards, and they star  ted taking the prison rules very seriously” (McLeod 3). In other words, McLeod says that norm exists in an environment,  Essay 2 ENGL-118 Ho Gung Hiu 2    people will adapt and follow the norm, which created an intangible force to prevent people violate the norm. And that force will eventually become an order in our society. This is significant because if norm doesn‟t exist, and if there is no rule to restrict what we  are supposed not to do, then it will create a lot of chaos, like the lining up problem that I mentioned which destroys the social harmony. SECOND BENEFIT: Another benefit of having social norms is that they help us to censor our behavior. For example, even if you are angry with your parents, and you want to say foul language to your parents, you wouldn‟t do it, because your min d told you that is inappropriate. And why your mind will have a such concept? It is because you are restricted by the norms. Adam Corner is the research Director for the Climate Outreach & Information Network (COIN) and an Honorary Research Fellow in the S chool of Psychology, Cardiff University. In his article called “Social Norm Strategies Do Work-  but with Risks”, which talks about the relationship between behavior and social norms. He argues that social norms help us to judge the appropriateness of our own  behavior. He says, “In laboratory studies and other, more practical settings, providing people with evidence of what others around them are doing has been shown to have a significant effect on behavior” (Corner 2). Another people who shares this point of   view is Saul McLeod, in his article “Social Roles”, he says “there are norms defining appropriate behavior for every social group. For example, students, neighbors and patients in a hospital are all aware of the norms governing behavior” (McLeod 1). In ot her words, both authors agree that, social norms will remind individual what they should or should not do, which foster people to think twice before  Essay 2 ENGL-118 Ho Gung Hiu 3   they act. This is significant because if norm does not exist in our world, we won‟t judge our  behavior, then it will create tons of conflicts which can be avoided easily. Just as you couldn't tell what is wrong with your face without using a mirror, you won‟t know what you should or should not do if norm does not exist in your mind. THE CONSEQUENCE OF BREAKING SOCIAL NORMS As a consequence, people breaking the norms will suffer from prejudice. For example, in India, eating food with hands is extremely common and appropriate. In contrast, using tableware to eat is the norms that western society advocates, therefore, if you use hands to eat steak in a restaurant, you will be labeled as unhygienic, uneducated and crazy. One place we see this is in a novel called „The Stranger‟ by Albert Camus. This novel is about a man who has a trouble following social norms. At one point the main character was counselling with his attorney. And even though he was willing to cooperate with his attorney, his attorney hates him because of his odd behavior in his mother's funeral. Meursault says, “ [the lawyer] asked me if he could say that that day I had held back my natu ral feelings. I said, „No, because it‟s not true.‟  He gave me a strange look, as if he found me slightly disgusting” (Camus 65). Another moment that shares this  point of view is the accusation that made by his prosecutor: even though there is not enough evidence to charge him with this murder, the prosecutor used his odd behavior as his evidence to charge the main character. The prosecutor says, “I accuse this man of burying his mother with crime in his heart!” (Camus 96). In other words, these two examples  tell us that in our society,  people follow the norms no matter they are good or not. Therefore, if a person broke the norms,  people who follow the norms will give him a hard time because they have to do something to  Essay 2 ENGL-118 Ho Gung Hiu 4    protect the norms that they believe. This draws a significant impact on our society because of the  people who are willing to follow the norms also mean that they agree the norms are always right. But this is not always true, sometimes the norms are wrong, and when people broke those norms, he still needs to suffer from the negative actions toward him. FIRST PROBLEM: One challenge of having social norms is that they will create unnecessary restrictions for our actions. For example, even if we want to tell a person that he made an error  , we can‟t  tell them directly because this is rude in our society. Therefore, we have to tell them euphemistically, which is less effective to deliver our real message. One place we can see this is in the novel „The Stranger‟. At one point, the main character felt embarrassed for not willing to unscrew the casket even though he has the right for not doing that. The book says, “He was quiet, and I was embarrassed because I felt I shouldn‟t have said that” (Camus 20). Another moment that supports this idea is the conversation between the main character and his girlfriend. Even though they want to go out and have a date, the atmosphere got destroyed by the fact that the main character was in mourning. Meursault said, “I told her Maman had died. She wanted to know how lo ng ago, so I said, “Yesterday.” She gave a little start, but didn‟t say anything” (Camus 20). In other words, both examples say if our action conflicts with the social norms, then our action will be limited, even if it is logically right. It is a huge challenge for our society, because social norms supposed to act like a tool to help us to create order in our society and guide our action. However, sometimes the relationship between society and the social norms got inverted. More
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