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Lesson Plan: Breaking a Social Norm



I Learning Objective(s)

Learning to understand what social norms are and how they affect us.

II Rationale for Objectives

Hands-on experience with social norms.

III Materials


IV Procedures


(1) Introduction


(2) Activity

(1) Break a social norm of dress/attire. (Caution: do not wear anything illegal, dangerous, or extremely disruptive.) Try dressing in female clothes if you are male. Wear formal attire to a casual get together. Wear a winter jacket in the summer. Wear sandals in the snow. Wear stripes with polka dots. Wear an unstylish or outdated outfit.

(2) Next, interact with others and observe their responses while wearing your norm-breaking outfit.


(3) Discussion

Did you experience sanctions? Were there subtle punishments for breaking social norms? How does conforming to and violating social norms fit into the lifelong process of socialization?

(4) Summary

Takes 30 minutes in class, about an hour outside of class.

V Evaluation/Assignment

Write a short report of your experiences and interpretations.

VI Supplementary Readings

Any introductory textbook will have relevant readings on social norms, deviance and labeling.