Norms refer to rules of behaviors that are acceptable in a certain group or society. People who do not adhere to the normal may be shunned by other people or suffer certain consequences. Norms are not constant. They change depending on the environment or situation. Reciprocity and expressing empathy are some of the social norms. Reciprocity implies that people should help people who have helped them. For example, if one wishes to have a day off to attend to personal matters, the individual may ask a coworker to work that day for him. Therefore, consistent with reciprocity, the individual is expected to agree with a similar request from the coworker in the future. Expressing empathy when one hears about the difficulty of another person is another social norm. Failure to express empathy implies that the individual is insensitive to other people (Johnson, 2008).
I chose to break the social norm of reciprocity. I usually go to the theater to watch movies with my friends. The age of the friends I usually attend a movie with varies from 17 to 19. All of them are Caucasians from middle-class families. Generally, when we are watching a movie one person would go to buy the snacks for the entire group. I once decided not to go and buy snacks for the entire group despite the fact that when my friends usually go to buy snacks for me when I request them. My friends requested me to buy snacks for them yet I only bought my snacks. I did not want to go and buy the snacks alone while my friends were enjoying the movie since the canteen for purchasing the snacks was very far. Going to buy the snacks would have helped me get fresh air since it was very hot inside the movie theater.
I only bought my snacks despite the fact that my friends had requested me to also buy snacks for them. When I returned into the movie theater, my friends were angry towards me. I claimed that I had forgotten to purchase snacks for them, despite the fact that they had given me clear instructions on what each one wanted. We started arguing since my friends could not fathom how I could forget to purchase snacks for them. Alex, one of my friends, tried to snatch my snacks and force me to go back and purchase snacks for them. All my friends supported Alex’s effort to snatch my snacks. After realizing all my friends were hostile towards me, I stayed away from them. Garry, one of my friends stormed out after deciding to purchase snacks for the entire group except me.
My friends’ reaction may be explained using four sociological concepts. These include socialization, social distance, conformity, and cooperation. Social distance refers to the degree of closeness or acceptance with other groups. Social distance determines the ability of a group to accept a member from another a different group (Dillon, 2009). All my friends have almost the same age. In addition, all of them are Caucasians. This implies that that there is a large social distance between my friends and people from other groups. Therefore, they could not understand how I could reject their request since we have a close-knit group.
Cooperation is a social concept that enables individuals or groups to work together to attain individual or collective goals. The simplest form of cooperation involves two people who work together towards a common goal (Sofo et al., 2013). In the case in question, cooperation between my friends and me helps in avoiding all members of the group going to buy snacks. It helps in saving time and energy. Therefore, failure to cooperate would make it difficult for the group to achieve its goals. There was direct cooperation between members of the group.
Conformity ensures that there is order. In any society, people perform billions of activities daily. Conformity ensures that the social activities do not result in chaos but instead a certain approximation of order (Blaikie, 2007). If all people behaved the way I behaved during the incidence, there would chaos in the society.
Socialization is the social concept that may help in clearly expressing the reaction of my friends. Socialization refers to an unconscious process in which people lean various values, beliefs, and rules. Socialization enables people to internalize the culture in which they are born into. Socialization includes three vital processes. These include cognitive, affective and evaluative. Socialization comprises of the knowledge of how things are caused. It also helps in the creation of emotional links between an individual and other people in the society. Therefore, socialization enables individuals to perform their roles in the society more effectively. In most instances, the family is the major socializing agent. Other groups that help in socialization vary according to the complexity of a society (Blaikie, 2007). All my friends have been socialized to have reciprocity. Therefore, it was wrong for me to fail to reciprocate their actions by purchasing snacks for them while they watch the movie. Their response may me feel bad since they alienated me. Since then, they refuse to purchase snacks for me when we go to watch a movie.
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