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Elevator Experiment - Essay Example

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The American society has a lot of formal and informal norms and assumptions for ridding in an elevator. The norms that are described as informal form the majority and they are the types that are not found in any books or constitution but are expected to be followed to the latter. …
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ELEVATOR EXPERIMENT The American society has a lot of formal and informal norms and assumptions for ridding in an elevator. The norms that are described as informal form the majority and they are the types that are not found in any books or constitution but are expected to be followed to the latter. Examples of these norms, some of which are verbal and others non-verbal include not starting a conversation that will last for over 15 seconds, facing the same direction as others and normally the front direction, not talking aloud in the elevator, not making eye contacts and exiting in order of who is closest to the door. These norms could be tagged as Emic distinctions rather than Etic because they have to do with the very people within the American culture (Lett, 2009) . I found myself in this Emic experience when I got onboard an elevator and would not face the front door and without talking to anyone or answering any questions. Mt experimentation was both participatory and observatory as I could clearly notice that the people in the elevator with me saw me as someone who was breaking basic rules of life. Reasons as to why Americans have rules regarding the riding of elevators are unstated. However these could be associated to the need to respect social existence. As much we are all individual beings and are entitled to personal and individual freedoms as to how we should behave and conduct ourselves (in a way that do not break criminal laws), we are also regarded as social beings, we must be able to live with the larger society in an easy and more accommodating way. Day in and out, we meet people and we must be able to be lived with and be able to live with so that the social environment can be described as friendly to all. In order to do this well, there is the need to be rules because when they are rules, there is sure to be an orderly manner of doing things. The rules regarding the use of elevators reflect the values of courtesy and civility of the American society. There is the saying that in the absence of rules, there is anarchy. The American society therefore has rules for almost everything – including using the elevator so that their values for courtesy, civility and peace can be displayed. To a very large extent, there was a Relativistic view of the people towards me rather than ethnocentrism. Velasquez et al (2010) hold the view that “ethical relativism is the theory that holds that morality is relative to the norms of one's culture.” To this effect, the people in the elevator, though proving with their gestures that they saw everything wrong with my attitude were respectful, not gory, not sacrilegious and normal. Whenever I stole a glance behind me, I noticed people were looking at me in awkward manner. There was not any instance that in my two experiments, anyway questioned me or insulted me or mocked me openly. There were only some few kids who drew their parents’ attention to me by pointing finger at me but made no verbal comment or sound. The reaction of the kids certainly made other people aware that the American culture was very particular about basic rules such as elevator rules and therefore expected them to behave appropriately. My response to all this was a feeling of uneasiness because I had a strong feeling that I was really serving as a social nuisance to the people in the elevator. To generalize my findings, I would say that America is highly principled society. There is thought to be so much freedom in America as far as the outside world is concerned. However, there are certain basic things that not everyone has the freedom to do – you do them and you attract all the eyes! Apart from the elevator experience, I have had experiences with table manners before. There was a time that I went to the school canteen to have lunch. That day I intentionally decided not to use the fork and knife for the usual purposes they are used for. I rather used my bare hands in eating. I was shocked when all the two of the three people on the table with me stood up from the table. I was quite embarrassed but it was a personal experiment. Though most of the rules are conventional rather than stated, they help in maintaining a well rehearsed social order. They can get boring at times when you feel that your basic freedom to act in a certain way is suppressed but they help in maintaining a socially balanced society. At least these rules help in maintaining very high levels of discipline. For all we know, conforming to these basic rules help in shaping us in conforming to legal rules of the land that to do with crime. If we are not able to abide by rules like elevator and table rules, we may find it very difficult to conform to rules at home and in school. REFERENCE LIST Lett J. Emic/Etic Distinctions. 2009. Web. September 18, 2011 from Velasquez, M. Andre, C. Shanks, T. S.J., and Meyer M. J. Ethical Relativism 2010. Web. September 17, 2011 Read More
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