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CCP Class 2: Social norms and culture

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Anna Sircova

on 18 June 2018

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Transcript of CCP Class 2: Social norms and culture

Class 2: Social norms and culture
Practical issues
Social norms
Danish context: the law of Jante
Breaching experiments in social psychology
Social norms
Norms, values and assumptions
Think of a behaviour unique to you, coming from your own cultural background that you identify with very closely?
This could also be a behaviour that others from different cultural backgrounds to yours may have found different/strange/funny/difficult to understand.

What do you suppose are the underlying norms and values behind this behaviour?

Why do you identify with this behaviour and values?
Breaching experiments
5 minute reflection on the day questions:
1. What was new today? ("all" or "nothing" are not considered as an answer.

2. What did you remember / what was interesting?

3. If what you have heard today was an answer, then what was the question? Try to formulate one-two questions.
What is normal in the context of culture?
What are social norms in the US that you don't really see here?
Cultural dichotomies /
dimensions of culture
Power Distance:

Extent to which less powerful
members accept that power is
unequally distributed
Individualism vs. Collectivism: Degree to which people are integrated into groups
Uncertainty Avoidance:
Tolerance for ambiguity
Masculinity vs. Femininity:
Distribution of values between the genders
Name 2-3 things that you've noticed that
are different
between Denmark and the USA and could relate to these 4 dimensions
Write down a specific thing or a short sentence
Class representatives
• Opportunity to exercise leadership and initiate changes
• Opportunity to objectively voice opinions, concerns, and ideas for the class.
• Provide a framework for the management of class representation in order to support a teaching-learning partnership between faculty and students.
• Confer with the whole class as often as possible and at least before each Class Representative meeting
Class Representatives’ roles
What are social norms? Come up with a working definition. - all groups

How do they affect us? What effect they have on society? - group 1

How are they created and transmitted? - group 2

Why are they relevant in the context of culture(s)? - group 3

How are they studied? What tools can we use? - group 4
Basic assumptions
The deepest level:

nonconfrontable and nondebatable assumptions about human nature, environment, activities, and relationships
visible symbols:

behaviors, clothing, language;

structures, systems, procedures;

physical aspects (décor, space arrangements, noise levels)
The difficulty: an outsider (and even some insiders) has no way of knowing what the artifacts represent, if anything
Just below the surface:
unwritten rules of behavior
generally are inferred by observing behaviors and interactions
Deeper level:

What is important and deserves attention
Norms, values and assumptions
Consider a behaviour that you have observed in the Danes that stands out as different/strange to you and/or that you find difficult to understand.

What do you feel are the underlying norms and values?

Why do you suppose the Danes identify with these behaviours and values?
You're not to think you are anything special.
You're not to think you are as good as we are.
You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You're not to think you know more than we do.
You're not to think you are more important than we are.
You're not to think you are good at anything.
You're not to laugh at us.
You're not to think anyone cares about you.
You're not to think you can teach us anything.
- almost "bipolar": a swing from lack of self-confidence to being over confident
(example with belief that Danish education is the best) -> not open to expert opinion ("can't teach us!")
- don't show off your success - don't like the elite (compare with France, where elite is accepted);
- school achievements are not valued - stay put!
- not open to change;
- troubles in accepting immigrants;
- it's a coping mechanism
against ENVY
- always aware of the social groups around,
always listen
(there was no revolution in DK);
- if there is a conflict - we need to find a
pragmatic solution
to it (not like in France - the solution will be very theoretical);
- pragmatic:
- high level of
in society;
- many
where people work / do things together
- teaches not to compare with others, but with yourself
+ not showing off
How to spot a Dane abroad:
- the way they listen to other people;
- the way they dress (practical + functional);
- the way they drink alcohol
not being ambitious and do things properly
Aksel Sandemose
"A fugitive crosses his tracks", 1933
... The goal is to examine people’s reactions to breaches of social norms- norms that are often taken for granted and that people are not necessarily aware of adhering to
Social psychology; ethnomethodology- Goffman, Garfinkel, Milgram

Intrusion into waiting lines (Milgram et al, 1986)
Asking people to give up their seats in the subway (Milgram & Sabini, 1978)
Approaching strangers with an extended hand (Milgram, 1977, 1992)
Decoding unwritten rules in public space

Not necessarily unique to Denmark/Scandinavia- but reflect on the (cross-) cultural aspect

Talking to/addressing / complementing strangers
Smalltalk at the cashier
Being loud in the silent train car
Petting dogs
High-five to cyclists

Breaking a social norm:
"Milgram's idea exposed the extremely strong emotions that lie beneath the surface.
You have all these strangers together. That study showed how much the rules are saving us from chaos." - Dr. Harold Takooshian, former student
Next class:
Guest lecture by Anne Lindhardt on Intercultural Communication or Denmark 101

The glue of human society and institutions
” ”We” (our group) do things in certain ways”– social identity, ”us”/”them”

The individual human tendency to do things the way others in the group do them – in the way they are expected by others to do them

(Chudek & Heinrich, 2011)
Social norms:
Any questions so far?
Messages in the readings:
For the most part - I'm not going to be pushy regarding a particular message that you should obtain from a particular reading. It is really up to you!
I have my particular background that might create some bias - so that's why we will be discussing the readings a great deal in the class.
I do not know the ultimately true answer, so I don't expect from you to find it either. Just make sure you can argument for your personal answer. Reality is very relative...
the workshop:
1. It was short, but illustrative.

2. I thought it was an interesting illustration of how myth-creating works. How brain of Einstein becomes a socially constructed idea and the narrative that accompanies it.

3. Roland Barthes explores the connection between an object, word and its meaning and shows that modern myths are created with a particular reason.

4. He explores the link between what we see in a particular culture and what it actually means? How particular assumptions become "naturalized" within a culture?

5. Allows me to ask a question: "Do you think we’ll be able to find the only truth in our studies? Can we reduce all the variety to a single formula?"
The assignment:
1. Experiment:
designed and conducted as a group; the chosen norm can also reflect your team's main interest for the course.

2. Presentation:
aimed to help to practice presentation skills and improve your paper based on questions and feedback from class, but usually everyone is also very curious which norm was breached by the others.

3. Analysis paper:
aimed at learning to write APA-style analysis paper (specific structure, specific language, etc.).

4. Peer review:
to have a taste of how it is to grade a paper, review it and give feedback. Hopefully the feedback you'll get from peers will help to improve the paper before the final submission to me.
What is normal in Denmark: where to start?
1. Observe
- if you commute by train or bus; if you come here by foot / bike - what happens in the streets, how people behave; when you go shopping?


The Copenhagen Post
- opinion section -> Denmark through the eyes of expats

3. Go to the movies:
in Cinemateket they often show Danish movies with English subtitles.

4. A few blogs:
I'll send links through Blackboard

5. Talk to your host family or
Danish people
in the kollegium
5 minutes meeting with your team:
Find a time for your first group meeting, where you can actually get together and:
properly brainstorm about the norm you'll breach, decide who is doing what (roles, responsibilities, etc.) and how?
- when you'll conduct the experiment (maybe you'll need a few trials for it)?
- when you'll write the paper?
- when you'll prepare the presentation?
If possible, find a time when all can meet at least once a week; otherwise - find an alternative.
World values survey
What is "normal"?
What is normal in the context of culture?
What are social norms in the US that you don't really see here?
Major cross-cultural studies about norms and values:
1) Geert Hofstede - Dimensions of Culture

2) Ronald Inglehart - World Values Survey

3) Shalom H. Schwartz - 10 factor model of basic values
Competition, aggressiveness, etc.
Caring for well-being of others
How does a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen?
Workshop with Casper Cordes
We meet at 9.00 in our regular class-room V10-D11
Building our own culture through music and non-verbal communication
Similar to Roland Barthes, who was exploring the connection between an object, word and its meaning we will be exploring how meaning is created without words?
Following Roland Barthes we will be exploring the link between what we
in a particular culture and what it actually
How particular assumptions become "naturalized" within a culture?
What is normal in Denmark: where to start?
Full transcript