Durkheim began, “Well, for starters, I have a horrendous headache from staring into a sea of burnt orange for far too many hours. What the heck was that about?”
“Come on, Durkheim! Wearing burnt orange at a UT game is just something you do. Personally, I think the color is pretty ugly but I wear it anyways to support my team!” exclaimed the student.
“Let me see if I understand this correctly. This color is important to you, but you don’t know why. Additionally, you wear it in order to conform to an expectation set by others. Does that sound about right?” asked Durkheim.
“Uh, sure.. if you wanna put it that way,” answered the student.
“Ah, well it seems as though wearing the color burnt orange at one of your football games is a social norm,” replied Durkheim.
“Dude, I never thought of it that way! Can you tell me a little more about what this ‘social norm’ thing is?” questioned the excited student.
“Well, social norms are ways of acting. Groups of people obey them for reasons often beyond their immediate understanding. Additionally, norms carry a sense of obligation, like one feels when acting brotherly or husbandly. For example, ask yourself why a husband might take care of his sick wife. A psychologist might say that it is because he loves her. However, I would say that it is because society has decided that taking care of a sick spouse is part of the set of social norms that spouses must act within. Norms such as this are inherited from the society that its members live in; I explain this analogy really well on page one of my essay, ‘What is a social fact?’. Durkheim then asked, “What would happen if I wore...
... middle of paper ...
...grated into the structure of your university. I actually wrote about the consequences of too much integration into a societal structure in my essay, ‘Suicide’ starting on page 217.”
“Dude, are they gonna kill themselves?!” questioned the student in surprise.
“It’s possible. A lack of individuation can most certainly lead someone to suicide. I call it ‘Altruistic Suicide’. When someone is too integrated, and their institution fails them, they lose everything. To extend upon our earlier remarks on identity, it can be said that without an institution, or a sudden loss of one, the person has no identity, leading them into total despair,” Durkheim replied.
“Awesome! Anyways you seem like a cool dude, but I’ve got a party to crash! Catch ya later!” exclaimed the student. While Durkheim was confused by the prompt dismissal of the student, he was happy to see him go.
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