Observation of Black Friday Shopping

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 December 2016

Observation of Black Friday Shopping

My wife loves to go Black Friday shopping. I decided to venture out with her as I was curious about the environment. I figured it would be a great observation point as it is intense and very busy. We left our home at 6:30pm and arrived at Walmart at 7:00pm on Thanksgiving night. The parking lot was completely full and people were searching for carts in between cars. I immediately knew this was going to be a long night. As we entered the front door, we were already stopped by the masses of people. There were lines curving in every direction and people seemed to have already lost their patience. There was a strong body odor that we noticed from the multitudes of people crammed together and the vibe was they were out for blood. It started to become very comical for me.

After finding our way to the back of the store and waiting in line for the discounted Wii, we reserved one of the twenty precious tickets. They would not begin handing out the units until 8pm, and for some reason, decided to make us stand in another line to pay for it before we could finish out shopping. This surprise detail had people irate. Since the blow horn sounded at 8pm on the dot, people were tearing down the plastic wrapping of all the other deals and filling their carts. The unfortunate ones who wanted the Wii could not get out of line to shop the store until after their Wii was paid for. I knew this was the perfect time to break my norm.

While my wife stood in one line, I walked to the other line and cut in front of about eight people. This was probably not the smartest thing to do as people started yelling and because furious. For safety reasons, I did not stay in that line long, but returned to my wife. She was incredibly embarrassed, and we still had to stand in line next to all these people who were making smart remarks and glaring at us. People were very upset that I would do such a thing and I’ll be honest and say I would never attempt that again.

The first sociological concept I observed was gender. Gender is the behaviors and attitudes that a society considers proper for its males and females; masculinity or femininity (Henslin, 2010, p. 75). I think shopping is mainly a role the females take on, and thus explains why the majority of the brave soles were females. Reporting from all the people I saw, I would guess about 80% of them were females. The majority were black females, followed by white females, and lastly was a handful of men. I was also surprised at how many young children were present.

The second concept is social class. According to Weber, a large group of people who rank close to one another in property power, and prestige; according to Marx, one of two groups: capitalists who own the means of production or workers who sell their labor (Henslin, 2010, p.98). Since a part of social class is income, this may impact the type of people that were out shopping. Saving $80 could impact one family greatly while others consider it pennies and wouldn’t waste their time. Many of the people I saw out shopping seemed to be of the lower and middle class. Their appearance did not appear to be of the very wealthy and thus made sense why they were fighting the crowds for the good deals.

The third concept I observed was the effect of the mass media advertising. Mass media is defined as forms of communication, such as radio, newspapers, and television that are directed to mass audiences (Henslin, 2010, p. 78). Days before the sale we received many ads in the mail, watched commercial after commercial of sales on TV, and received numerous emails with coupons. Inside the store, I noticed many people holding fliers and coupons that brought them into the madness. One lady was making the cashier price match a sale she found at Kmart. The millions of dollars that is put into advertising definitely filled the parking lots at the stores, and I would say was a success!

The last sociological concept is our culture. Culture is the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even material objects that characterize a group and are passed from one generation to the next (Henslin, 2010, p. 56). Before we left, my wife read something to me she found online. It said something along the lines of: only in America do people trample each other for things the day after they celebrate being thankful for what they have. This made me laugh because being at Walmart and watching the people, you do wonder if our culture has warped our minds so much that we can forget just hours after celebrating Thanksgiving. I have traveled to many different countries and I can say I have never seen people go so crazy for material possessions as in America.

This experience was pretty insane to me. I still do not totally understand why people would put themselves in that type of environment. After thinking I would need to break up a few fights over bicycles, I told my wife it was time to leave. I learned a lot from observing people’s reactions when it came down to something they were very passionate and determined about. I was happy to see that at least in our line, and besides myself, people kept to the norm and waited their turn. This once a year Black Friday madness has the perfect name to describe just how dark and dangerous it can be!

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 19 December 2016

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