Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How did the chicken cross the road?

When traveling to different cultures, 'how' the chicken crossed the road seems to be more relevant than 'why'. When I was in Italy, it took me six days to figure out how to cross the street. There were scooters and cars swerving everywhere and honking. Every time I tried to cross the street, cars would screech to a stop and swear at me in Italian. Then I figured out how to do it. Just walk a steady pace across the street and let them avoid you - and it worked! This knowledge of how to cross the street is an important norm, what sociologists call a more. Mores are important to the order of a society. If you violate them, it will cause a disruption in the social setting. Other norms that are less important are called folkways. Folkways are not crucial to the order of society and if you were to violate a folkway people would not necessarily judge you. The more of how to cross a street can be found in lots of videos on youtube. Watch this video from India. Note how the person crossing the street is aware of the norms of traffic and so the pedestrian successfully crosses without getting hit. It is worth noting that these mores, although very important to the society, are not necessarily laws. Similar to the ideas of time being a social construct, they are just the way that people operate and even though they are not written into laws, they are important to the function of society. Watch this video of an intersection in India and think about who has the right of way? There may not be a law about it, but those drivers know what they are doing, but would an American?
Have you experienced a different set of norms from another culture either by traveling somewhere or by meeting a foreigner here in America? What was it like? Were there misunderstandings?
Something else that you might want to blog about is google another culture where you would like to travel. Find out what unique norms exist in their culture. Here is a link to cultural etiquette around the world.

This port-a-potty was the creation of an artist in Switzerland.  Would you be able to use it?
It looks like this from the inside:

Would you be able to use a toilet if it looked like everyone could see you, even though you knew they could not? This is a taboo because even though people could not see us, the mere thought of them seeing us would make us hesitant. In other words, simply thinking about doing this is embarrassing and so we don't want to even think about it. Perhaps, that is why we have so many euphemisms for using the toilet: using the john, the restroom, the bathroom, the lavatory, the men's room, etc...




            Moral holidays

Moral holiday places


For more info see Ferris and Stein 79-80


  1. Um, I found my video by typing in amazing disabilities into you tube, but this video is by far amazing! I am going to show my mom this.

  2. hey sal i was looking on the internet at various things ans i found a song called jerry's the name, sociology's the game... it is terrible its like death metal... what is that rap song about sociology you had

  3. What perfect timing you're touching on culture! By serendipity, I found this awesome guy on youtube(his video was featured, not sure if it is now)and while he doesn't cross the road any special way, he "prayforms" in the street. It's pretty cool, he goes by Thoth. Here's a link to his site:

  4. When I was in Turkey my dad and I were drving in Istanbul and like Italy people just walk out on the streets and expect you to not hit them. I was clutching on to the side of the car because I was afraid they were going to get hit and my dad explained to me that unlike American's people don't wait to cross the road.