Deviant Act Essay

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SOC 231.470 1 February 2015 Deviance Assignment- Hugs from a Stranger A deviant act is one that challenges the social norms of society. According to Erikson, “Deviance is not a property inherent in certain forms of behavior; it is a property conferred upon these forms by the audience which directly or indirectly witnesses them” (Erikson, 1962, p.308). An act of deviance is judged upon and determined by society. What one person sees as deviance does not mean that everyone else shares the same viewpoint. Time is another contributing factor that weighs heavily on a society’s definition of deviance. Over time society’s norms change and thus a person’s perspective of what is deviant will also be likely to change. Nonetheless, a deviant act generates attention and this paper will focus on the social norm of a person’s personal space. The deviant act I chose to experiment with was giving strangers hugs. Naturally, I think the social norm in today’s context is that getting that close and physically touching a complete stranger is not appropriate. My experiment took place at a grocery store in the middle of the afternoon, while plenty of people were shopping. Before hugging anyone I would get an overwhelmed sense of nervousness and an anticipation that I was about to do something wrong, even though I was simply going to give someone a hug. I was able to work up enough courage to test this out twenty times and would wait long enough between people so that the next person would not be expecting anything. The reactions I received varied immensely, however, it did seem as though nervousness and an awkward feeling was mutual for everyone. Twice I did not even get to actually hug the person because they were quick to push me back as I approached. The other eighteen strangers had fluctuating reactions ranging from excited, confused, uncomfortable, and one lady even got
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