Table Manners Social Norms Free Sample Essay

Table manners are a form of the social norm in society. Social norms are sets of conduct that are expected by people, it is what drives the behaviour of people in a society. A social norm guides a person on how he or she should behave in a particular group or in society. Social norms can be explained as a habit where in most cases they are subconscious and people do them without realizing them (Bicchieri & Muldoon, 2014). One of the most fascinating social norms that I came across in my subculture is the habit of table manners. In this paper, I will explain how I interrupted the habit of table manners for a whole day with different people at a nearby cafeteria, its related to social order, how it is reinforced and internalized, and how people responded to my behaviour.

When around the table we are guided by so many rules on how to conduct ourselves, so in my research I decided to break a few of these rules and see how people would react. So I decided to use the nearby cafeteria in our school to break the social norm. Two guys were sitting together at a table and so I decided to approach them without asking if I could sit beside them, while at the same time making no eye contact. Instead, I went ahead pulled back a chair, sat down and started eating my food. My aim was to see people’s reactions if a stranger just sat at their table without requesting. As soon these guys noticed that I was going to sit at their table, they became uncomfortable and there was silence for about 20 seconds. I remained silent until one of the guys turned to my right and, said: “Hey, how are you?” I responded, and immediately concentrated back on my food, which further confused the two guys. The other guy decided to comment and said, “I have never seen someone I do not, know to sit beside me at my table before.” This behaviour confirmed I had broken a social norm.

The manner of organization within the society under some standards and regulations is referred to as a social order. It is a group of linked social structures; practices that set the way people relate and behave. People live, interact and socialize in social order within a unique arrangement (Joly, Stapel, & Lindenberg, 2008). In my research social order was evident in the social norm. I introduced myself and a conversation started. I told them I was carrying out a social experiment. They were both relieved and said it felt creepy. The feeling of being creepy shows how social order is related to the social norm. This is because we are made to believe that you cannot just sit beside anyone at a table without requesting, because that would be daring and absurd.

    Social norms like table manners which are now normal in most of our subcultures can be reinforced if we just decide to place our minds past what we think may become awkward while sitting around strangers. In the conversation, they showed elements of social control. Social control is the process where a group regulates itself actively or passively based on its beliefs, values, and principles (Bicchieri & Muldoon, 2014). The main aim of having social control is to avoid or stop negative deviance. In this case, they both admitted having been confused about what I was actually doing, and that it felt strange. One of them said it ran through his mind that he felt we had met before but forgot who where we met and who I was. His thoughts were how can a random person just come and sit at their table.

In my other experiment, I targeted four guys who were eating on a couch in the cafeteria and I sat and made eye contact with them. One of the guys was very uncomfortable and actually left only to come back when I left. While one of the other three told me he felt awkward with how I stared at them. This expressed how people get surprised and overwhelmed when they are confronted with unusual scenarios. This clearly explained if someone did this every day, he/she would face discrimination from the public thus making it a social norm how we behave around tables. People refer to these social norms as common sense but in the real sense, they are not common sense, thus making it easy to explain why these norms exist. They are formal regulations that guide society on what to do and what not to do. They ensure that the society is stable and does not collapse into disorder. The functions of these social norms in society are to command a certain way of behaviour. Some of them define the appropriate way of behaving for every social group. These may include students, neighbours or patients who are all relevant to the norms that govern their behaviour.

By abiding by these social norms one is able to fit in. You can be able to mingle with other people without standing out. You will hence have no interruption in your daily life. Hence you will live a happy life. You are also seen as a responsible individual and given respect, and depending on extending you may even be promoted at work. On the other hand, if you don’t adhere to the social norms you may probably not achieve anything from doing what other people before have done. And also it may lead to regrets for standing out for something. In the end, you may end up sad with your life since you are not satisfied or contented with your life.

    Norms deliver order in a society. To see how humans operate in a society without norms is difficult. Human beings require these norms for guidance in their daily lives to restore order and facilitate prediction of their future social relationship as well facilitate understanding of their actions. This explains why most people decide to conform to these social norms.

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