For my Intro to Sociology summer course, I was tasked a midterm paper based on social deviance. Social deviance is a relative thing. It's where someone or even entire groups of people violate a folkway (an informal, not-defined-legally norm).
I originally had almost zero idea as to what I was going to do with myself for this project. Many folkways involve acting, and I definitely prefer being polite to being uncomfortable.
I had then thought about what people had done for senior week last year. One of my senior friends wore her dinosaur costume, and so I thought, "Why can't I do that?"
However, as the phenomenon of social deviance goes, it wasn't about my action. It would be considered normal in certain circumstances such as during Halloween. The thing that made it deviant was the public reaction.
I wore the dinosaur costume around three different shopping areas. These different areas were intended to replicate the spread of socioeconomic status in my county. The lower-class location was Walmart, the middle-class location wasand the upper-class location was Publix. Along with clearly violating the typical dress norm, the dinosaur costume was meant to be noticeable but not obnoxious.
Before executing my plan, I had predicted that the lower-class and middle-class locations would draw very little reactions. Deviance is viewed as occurring more in these areas than in areas of the upper-class. As such, I had predicted that the lower and middle-class locations would have allowed for more collective faults in performance (face-saving behavior) in accordance with dramaturgy.
A conflict perspective of sociology is provided by conflict sociologist; he explains that deviance can often be defined as anyone interfering with the means and goals of capitalism. I had thought that this would have been reflected in the reactions to my deviance. I predicted that the upper-class location would have drawn the most reactions in the form of social control.
The reaction in each location was drastically different than I had predicted.
I had predicted nonchalance towards my deviance in Walmart, but I only found this type of behavior in one employee and just about nowhere else. This occurred when I asked an employee where the ATM was, and she turned and was not fazed by my attire. Many other people noticeably looked and laughed at what I was doing. Several people filmed me on their mobile devices; presumably this was to be transferred to electronic or viral communities upon leaving the Walmart. The lower-class location was also the only location where people approached me and inquired as to why I was wearing a dinosaur costume. Since having done the deviant act, I have deduced that those in the lower-class (or associating within the lower-class at this location) are less timid about confrontation with the odd due to having encountered it more often.
I had predicted a combination of nonchalance and attempts at social control at the middle-class Kroger. The reactions at this location were unsurprisingly similar to that of the lower-class location. Several people started to film my deviance. One lady tried to do it stylistically in a fashion termed on social media as a "selfie": filming with the front-facing camera and often including oneself in the shot. Another lady was an employee at the Kroger and offered the Kroger shopping discount if we allowed her to take one of these selfies with her. We also could overhear people commenting on my actions. Someone was on their phone and exclaimed when they saw me to the person on the other end of the call, "There's a dinosaur walking around [censored] Kroger!" This location was the last place we visited (around 10:30 PM), and so there were not many people around for this portion of the experiment. We had toured the store twice in attempt to make up for this fault in our design, but it was likely made slightly inaccurate due to less people being around.
I predicted that the higher-class Publix would draw the most reaction in the form of social control. On the contrary, we encountered detachment in this location. No one approached us and preferred to film from a distance if they did and backed away when approached. People would avoid the aisle we stood in and eye contact was sparse from fellow shoppers as well as from employees. In fact, some employees gathered in a storage area and glanced at us and laughed with each other and generally acted avoidant of our situation.
People outside of each location also had reactions to my deviance. At the lower and middle-class locations, people honked at me as I was walking in. At the upper-class location, some girls coming to Publix presumably from a game gawked and laughed at me while trying to hide it.
Yes, I wore a dinosaur costume around my county. It was only made deviant by the reactions to it.