Social Psychology – the idea of the way everyday social order is actively created can be seen in the breaching experiments documented by Harold Garfinkel in “Studies in Ethnomethodology. The purpose of the experiment is to seek out people’s response, verbally or non-verbally, to the violations of generally accepted norms (“Breaching Experiment”, 2008). These were concerned with a central element of the ethnomethodological analysis, namely the existence of rules on which everyday behavior is based.
However, the rules are not conceived of as fixed, but as starting points which may then be broken, bent reinterpreted or not. Precisely because they exist, social life is possible, but because they exist. In the video clip “Frozen Grand Central”, a group of “undercover agents,” equal to 207, “froze in place at the exact same moment” at the Grand Central Station. The undercover agents, as well as the whole staff for this experiment are conscious about breaking a certain rule, thus “making commonplace scenes visible”.
The “Frozen Grand Central” experiment revealed the people’s multifaceted reactions, both verbally and non-verbally. When the rules in the Grand Central Station were broken, though, most of the audience were shocked or utterly amazed, some tried to make sense out of the situation and to construct some meaning which explains the unforeseen event (“Frozen Grand Central”, 2008). In relation to the concept of breaching and the breaching experiments conducted by Garfinkel, here are three breaching exercises, depending on the place of the experiment, which students or any individual could do.
The first exercise can be conducted in the restroom. It is a place which is present almost in all establishments. Men or guys can perform a breaching experiment in their respective restroom by standing next to a person who is urinating and simply look at him. Variations of this experiment can be done. First is by raising a leg and leaning to the opposite side of the raised leg, to maintain balance, while urinating; like a urinating dog. Second is by entering the room while your head constantly faces one side, even while you urinating, and after you leave the restroom.
The norm or rule that is broken in this exercise is the proper etiquette or behavior when using the restroom. Usually, men would look straight at the walls, ignoring other people around him while urinating. It is also a common practice, or a “proper behavior” to stand straight rather than raise one leg. If an individual performs this breaching experiment around me, I would distance myself from him or use another urinal. If he looks at me, I would think that he is either homosexual or bisexual and that he has interests on me.
Either way, I would react negatively. The second breaching exercise can be performed in public places where seats are available such as restaurants. Being a student, it would be practical to do it at the school canteen or inside the classroom. In this exercise, you would sit with your feet placed on the chair or seat. You can either hug your knees or place your hands on top of your knees and stare at the teacher, the person in front of you or somebody near you, as if you are giving full attention to him/her but not responding verbally to whatever he/she says.
Spoken, verbal communication or dialectical rules in this exercise are broken. In addition to this, the proper etiquette in sitting is broken. Most people do not want to be stared at, and people would find it unusual for an individual to be sitting with his feet raised. If an individual stares at me and responds non-verbally even with continuous interrogations why he/she is doing that, I would either think that he/she is not feeling well, psychologically and physically, or he is being rude.
I could also think that he is a movie/anime (Japanese animation) lover, trying to mimic the behaviors or characteristics of “Ryuzaki” or “L” from the movie or anime “Death Note”. The third breaching exercise called “cosplaying” can be performed in any public place, but would be best if performed in the school or inside the classroom. Cosplay short for costume play, originated in Japan and is gaining popularity from all around the world. It is the practice of fans dressing up in the costumes of their favorite characters. Most of the costumes are homemade.
In Japan cosplay is so big that there are stores that specialize in tailoring and selling costume supplies and there are also cons devoted entirely to cosplay. Sometimes, cosplayers form large teams, like the Eswat squad from the Appleseed manga at Fanime 2K. Star Trek fans do cosplay too, but there’s sameness to their identities. Anime fans have a distinct advantage here and can choose from dozens and dozens of popular characters and not just those from anime but from manga and video games as well. At U. S. cons there is always a capacity crowd at the masquerade.
Here cosplayers make a variety of presentations, from simple walk-ons to real performances, both musical and theatrical. Parodies of favorite characters are especially well received. On the contrary, even if Cosplay started in Japan and is common in the districts such as in Akihabara, it does not generalize the typical behavior of the Japanese nor the individuals living in Japan. Some people, even the Japanese, think that cosplayers are ridiculous or stupid. A negative sexual connotation is also associated with this act, and people tend to think, believe or feel that it is reprehensible.
Cosplay is also being performed in countries like Mexico, Australia, France, Belgium, Philippines, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan and in North America such as in the United States and Canada. In 1980, at the San Diego, California, Comic-Con, several fans dressed as anime and manga characters in the masquerade. North American cosplayers use the Japanese word “otaku” to refer to themselves. However, this literally means “geek”, a term which Japanese cosplayers wouldn’t want to be associated with them.
In addition to this, the word “geek” is often associated with a social class or group at the bottom of the social ladder in Japan. The third exercise can be performed as an individual, but would look better if performed in groups, using every character in one movie such as “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings” or anime such as “Gundam” or “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. It does not matter whether there are few or many girls or women in the class as compared to the boys or males because an aspect of cosplay called “crossplay” or “cross-dressing” can be done where a male crosplayer could be crossplaying a female character.
This breaching exercise breaks the social norm about dress codes. Dress codes, enforced or not enforced, are strictly followed in the society. Individuals who want to portray a certain personality to the society or to gain, admiration or attention from the society to the society, follow dress codes or wear presentably. Especially in schools, and in the case of private schools, dress codes are strictly enforced. Deviance includes a broad spectrum of behaviors, ranging from the most socially harmful, such as rape and murder, to the relatively inoffensive, such as cross-dressing.
Criminologists view deviant behavior as any action that departs from the social norms of society. If I would be able to see people cosplaying or cross-dressing, then I would definitely enjoy watching it. I might daydream to be a part of the breaching exercise. I might also think that there is a special event or a competition being held where the cosplayers are. In some point, I would feel that these individuals are silly and probably share a smile or a laugh at them. A variation of this third breaching exercise can be done by wearing an inner tube, goggles and flippers while in a school uniform.
Wearing a tuxedo coat, pink shorts and yellow rubber ducky slippers can also be done in this exercise. I saw a documentary once, where a famous actor was dressed like a crazy filthy man or a dirty street beggar. He went into public places and people treated him like they usually treat these people he was trying to cosplay. Some kept away while some discriminated him. Only one or two individuals offered food or help to him. I tried the third exercise, first variation, where I wore a swimming goggle and an inner tube on a formal suit while going to the mall. At first, while looking at the mirror, I laughed at myself and felt ashamed to go out.
I felt that I would not be accepted by the people or by society as a whole if I go out looking like that. People were already looking at me when I was on the way to the mall. The security guard in the mall was even hesitant to let me in. Maybe he thought that I was a threat to the safety of the people inside the mall. He may also have thought that I am a mentally challenged individual. People around me were wondering why I was wearing the goggles and the inner tube. People talked silently with their companions or to their selves while looking at me from head to feet. Most of the time, they were smiling, while some were rudely laughing.
It was totally a different experience for me and I felt not to do it again. Somehow, this experience pressured me about what to wear or how I should dress in front of people. This experience definitely opened my eyes and beliefs regarding how people treat others and taught me not to “judge a book by its cover”. References Breaching Experiment. (2008, February 20, 2008). In Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 7, 2008, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Breaching_experiment ImproveEverywhere. (2008, January 31, 2008). Frozen Grand Central. Retrieved March 7, 2008, from http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=jwMj3PJDxuo
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