In this assignment, you are to imagine that you are trying to communicate to a total outsider the key norms that they need to learn to function in a social setting that you choose. You could choose almost anything, although some choices probably work better than others. The question at the center of the exercise is not, though, what are the three norms/rules you need to know, but why are these three norms so important to functioning in this setting? Settings you could pick include a restaurant or other eating establishment, dorms, the gym, a team or club, being a student from another country, the movies, living in a small rural community, having controversial political conversations, and so on, pretty much anything. Feel free to write to your section leader or Prof. Norton about whether a topic you have in mind will work. Make sure that the norms you identify are different and that you explain them in detail providing plenty of examples of what they are, why they are important, and what happens if they are not followed. Your examples should do a good job in getting specific about the general rules that you identify. The rules you identify, though, should be in service to the bigger point about why these norms are important.
Questions that might help you develop an answer to that in the specific setting you have identified include: why do these norms exist in that setting? What do they do? What kind of social order do they contribute to?
What do the norms protect, or what vision of the social setting do they advance? What do they have in common? What are the beliefs or values behind the given norms? What happens to norm violators? To be clear, you don’t have to answer all of these questions; rather, they are questions that might help you answer the central questions of the paper: what are the three key rules/norms in the setting you have chosen and what does the importance of those norms tell us about the setting?
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