Social Psychology

By Daniel Katz; Richard L. Schanck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
ATYPICAL WAYS

Thus far we have been trying to give psychological order to the mass of social regularities encountered in everyday experience. Uniform ways have been dissected, according to their functioning in the social pattern, into folkways, mores, institutional ways, and fashions. Special forms of uniformity have been broken down according to their psychological nature into taboos, ritual, and stereotypes. Uniform ways constitute the typical, the expected, social events in a culture.

Everyday life, however, is replete with surprises. The milkman, who has delivered milk every morning with a monotonous regularity, suddenly goes on strike. The peaceful life of a town is upset by a bank robbery. The overworked business man has a nervous breakdown and crawls around on all fours like an infant. A scholar goes insane and plays at being a great detective. The smooth functioning of the schoolroom is disturbed by the child who will not salute the flag. A motorist drives through a red light and smashes into a truck. A girl confounds her family by marrying a Turk. The heir to millions faces disinheritance for his public utterance of radical ideas.

In addition to these departures from accepted practices there are large areas in life in which variability is the rule rather than the exception. These areas are not covered by codified standards of uniform conduct. Once school is out, students may be found playing tennis, reading novels, taking part in informal discussions, attending a theatre, writing home, courting their girls, playing cards, or even studying in the library. Some of these practices, such as studying, may be institutionalized, but the time and manner in which they are

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