Levine and Wolff published an article about different ways that social scientists researched time in various cultures. See the article called Social Time here.
Using the article, please answer these questions:
1. How did the author conduct research about time in the U.S. and Brazil?
2. What did he find?
3. How does language shape how people perceive/experience time?
4. What other data did researchers use to study time around the world?
Here is more research about time around how time is socially constructed.
What are norms?
Why are norms important?
There are two important general lessons from norms:
- When interacting with other cultures, recognizing norms is important because if we fail to acknowledge these differences, we run the risk of offending someone or even a whole culture of people.
- Second, norms help us see that we have been shaped to behave a certain way; they are an illustration that we are socialized by our nurture. Norms an example of the shared meaning that we learn as we grow up.
Also for more humor on cultural differences, checkout these HSBC adds: Eels, personal space, wrong flower,
Sociological Literacy: Different types of norms; folkways, mores, taboos
Example of a dinner with your family and significant 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. A folkway in the United States might be addressing adults by "Mr" or "Ms" or driving the speed limit. A folkway at a dinner party might be not putting your elbows on the table. Finally, a folkway at SHS might be showing up to class on time or
Mores (pronounce mor AYS) are norms important to the order of a society. If you violate them, it will cause a disruption in the social setting. 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. The more of how to cross a street can be found in lots of videos on youtube. 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. Would an American know the more of how to cross the street? Note how the person crossing the street is aware of the norms of traffic and so the pedestrian successfully crosses without getting hit.
Crossing the street in Italy:
And a British explanation of Italian street crossing norms here.
Finally, the most serious norms are taboos. Taboos are things that you do not even want to think about because it is embarrassing to even imagine it. For example, look at this port-a-potty in Switzerland:
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, washroom, powder room?
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 inquire about is another culture's norms; where you would like to travel? What are all of the norms you should know if you travel there? Find out what unique norms exist in their culture. Here is a link to cultural etiquette around the world.