Deviant Assignment

When the assignment was issued to us I thought yeah no problem, after all I used to do those kind of activities for fun. Yet as the weeks went on, I just wasn’t coming up with an idea
that I liked, or that I felt was something I would actually do. So like many college students, I procrastinated and kept telling myself that something would come to me. Before I knew it I had
about a week before the assignment was due and was at a complete loss of what deviant act I would actually commit! So I went to work and came up with a few ideas, however I found that I was actually too shy to go through with any of them. Now it’s down to crunch time, and I finally had come up with something that I could do and would get the reaction was looking to get for the project. I decided that I would wear a full face shield covered motorcycle helmet in the Jewel Grocery store while I shopped, and I would take pictures and record the reactions of others to this spectacle. Now keep in mind it’s 90 degrees out, and no one wears a helmet inside a store anywhere, let alone the entire time they are grocery shopping. I know a little bit about the subject, because I used to ride a sportbike almost everywhere I could for about 2 years. However this was about 7-8 years ago, and I could no longer even find my helmet. So I called up a friend and told him I needed a favor for a sociology project, and I would have it back to him in a day. He laughed and said no problem, and fortunately for me he didn’t really ask any questions! So I pulled up to a local Jewel, strapped on the helmet and grabbed a shopping cart. For the first couple of minutes I was very embarrassed and couldn’t stop laughing to myself. I was getting stares from nearly everyone, a lot of double take looks, some laughing, and plenty of comments and conversations that I couldn’t hear. After a few minutes I wasn’t so embarrassed and focused on having some fun with the idea and trying to get some pictures and reactions. I used my Iphone to take the photos, and was able to capture a couple different types of the reactions that I experienced. Some people were shy, some people did not like being photographed, some people acted disgusted, some people laughed, but nearly everyone let me know through body language that what I was doing was not part of the social norm. After all, when is the last time you saw someone wearing full face shield motorcycle helmet in street clothes shopping? Probably a sight that you’ve never seen! I did go up and talked to several of the people and explained to them what I was doing, and overall everyone was very nice and I was able to share some laughs with complete strangers, after they knew that my deviant behavior was intentional.

Several thoughts run through my mind about my experience of looking and behaving differently than everyone else in that environment. Is this how severely handicapped people feel when they go shopping? Is this how an African American would feel if he went shopping in an upper class neighborhood where they are less than 1% of the population? Is this how a homeless person would be perceived if he walked into a high profile company on Wall Street? Now of course our society has become largely a melting pot of cultures, races and people of different SES’s. I learned a ton of ideas and concepts in this Sociology class this summer, I have included 5 topics that had the most impact on me.

One of the first things I learned in class this summer, is some of the inequality in Sociology. There is a radio show that I have tune into occasionally; it is the Michael Savage Show on AM 560 in the afternoons. The show starts at 5pm and the host has some pretty outrageous views on politics and current society, and often talks with disdain about Socialism and Marxism. Other than some basics about Karl Marx, I really did not know much about his teachings or what Conflict Theory was. In class we talked about the definition of Conflict Theory as being the theoretical framework that views society as an unequal system that brings about conflict and change, and also a society in a struggle for scarce resources. I find the pyramid theory of structured power and wealth to be a sad yet sobering way to view society.

After learning about Conflict Theory, I can confidently say that a Conflict Theorist I am not, however I do agree with some of the view points.

The next idea that I learned about was Symbolic Interactionism. As Symbolic Interactionism focuses on how communication influences the way people’s interactions with each other create the social world in which we live in. Symbolic Interactionist’s prefer that the root of society comes from it’s symbols. Over the past few years of my life, I have become very interested in learning why people behave the way that they do in a given situation. Being interested in psychology, this theory was interesting to me because this theory blends sociology and psychology.
The next concept that I wanted to write about is actually the first theory we discussed. Functionalismis the theoretical framework that defines society as a system of interrelated parts. I do agree that largely societies values and norms provide the foundation for the rules and laws that it creates. It feels as though the technology age advances, one downfall is that as a society we are following what the media and big corporations are feeding us. Both in terms of what is being reported to us, and what is being advertised to us through the growing number of communication methods. If you follow the image of what new music and movies portray, it’s as if being a middle classed white male with good moral values, is not cool in current society.

Speaking on the topic of race, I did not realize how unequal the wage scale for black people in America really is. We talked learned and discussed this in lesson 6 on Race and Ethnicity. The average wage difference in 2006 between Black and Whites was nearly $21k per year. And the spread between Asians and Blacks was staggering, the average Asian income in America was more than double that of the average Black American. I knew there was some inequality in society in terms of wage scale, but was shocked at the difference. This opened my
eyes, as we talked about the real generational challenges that can be faced by minorities in America.

How about women in our current society? How does Feminism and equality fair today? There are roughly 4 women who hold CEO positions in the top fortune 100 companies, and
roughly 10 in the top 500. It’s clear that we have a long way to go towards equality in both treatment and wage scale amongst women and minorities in America. I do believe that as a
society we are making slow steady progress towards both, especially female equality and respect in both workplace and our communities.

I mentioned earlier that upon first hearing the assignment, I was confident that I would easily come up with a deviant idea. But I am not 18 years old anymore, and I am not fresh out of
high school. I am 30 years old and this is my first college class since my tech school experience nearly 12 years ago. This is the first paper I have written since then, and my fist time learning a lot of these ideas and concepts. I found that I have become much shy and reserved in my mannerism and behavior. Any given Friday night I might have performed a deviant act with
friends just for fun, a few instantly come to mind. Now 12 years later I waited until the last day before the assignment was due to perform my deviant act. Perhaps with all of the inequality and injustices in our current society, it is possible to modify behavior with maturity and experience and a little bit of education. Only now as a 30 year old father with a career and brand new
college experience, I had to force myself to perform a deviant act.


Carl, J.D. (2010). Think sociology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.







Theres me in the Act