Saturday, October 22, 2005

sociology 101

Rebels with an educational cause: City students test the power of society's unwritten rules -- by breaking them
Jodie Sinnema The Edmonton Journal
20 October 2005

All are students from King's University College who have taken David Long's first-year sociology class, where one assignment is to break a social norm to learn how powerful the unwritten rules are in guiding behaviour.

But the assignment isn't meant to simply amuse, or to embarrass or humiliate. Students can't do anything criminal, cause offence or hurt anyone.

They have to think critically about how and why social norms are formed and take note of how people react to their stunts.

Oh, I see. Let's teach those Marcians first-year students that walking down the street naked might get you an occasional odd stare or two. How educational!

Breaking a norm can help people see from a different perspective, Long said.

Long said, "It's a liberating assignment. Breaking a norm shows us how we are pressured to conform."

Of course, the students tried to do their best:

Another female student showed up at her family's formal Sunday dinner without shoes. A few minutes into the din-din, she pushed back her chair, put her feet on the table, and proceeded to cut her toenails.
"It was Armageddon," Long said. "Her dad just went ballistic. 'What are you doing? The youth of today, no respect.' "

How liberating! Perhaps, she should've tried to "lay the brick" (Ali G©) in the dining room to free herself of all those stifling conventionalities. But it wouldn't have boded well with her retrograde father who might have paid for her tution. Nice to know where your money goes.

Sarcasm aside, this is sad really. That's what passes for higher learning these days - jackass tricks aimed to shock and revolt. It may 'liberate' students from the norms of modern day society but I doubt it's gonna liberate their minds as well, which is to me the main purpose of University education.
And yeah, this just confirms my long-held suspicion that out of all humanities Sociology department is the most f..uped place on campus.


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