Mall Observation

Shopping Mall Observation A sociological observation was conducted at Manhattan Village mall from 5:48 P. M. to 8:00 P. M. on Saturday, September 18, 2010. There were many different types of ethnicity and different ways of how people act. On the observation day, there were many people in groups of three or more. People tend to just worry about themselves and their own group. Many families brought little kids and let them play around the water fountain. People are so unique in so many ways such as different cultures, views, an d perceptions.

In order to communicate and adapt to a new culture, people must learn to understand signs, norms, and social control. These three factors are important and touch almost every aspect of social life. According to Kerry Ferris and Jill Stein in The Real World: an introduction to sociology, a sign is “a symbol that stands for or conveys an idea“(101). Signs are price tag, a slow down sign, numbers, and etc. All signs convey information. Signs are the most common and they make everyone’s life a little easier. Gestures is an example of signs. Gestures are usually have to do with body movements.

Even though signs are everywhere and all around, some people have to learn in order to understand what they represent. For example, during the mall observation, there were many sale signs outside of the stores. Those signs are very powerful because they attract customers and persuade them to come in. Sale has many meanings like what is on sale and how many percent off of that particular item. People are being tricked because these signs are big, easy to see, and outside of the stores. One couple walked by Gap store, they saw a sign saying, “ 25% to 50% off on Summer Apparels”.

They saw the sign so automatic their minds started to be curious and nosy. They went in, came out with one bag, and looked happy that they got a good deal. Another example was when the girl asked a security where to look for an elevator in Macys. She spoke broken English so the security showed her to look at the directions on top. These directions are signs and pictures to guide people. Signs are very important because some people would be lost without them. Norms are “the rules and guidelines regarding what kinds of behavior are acceptable and appropriate within a culture”(Ferris and Stein 104).

According to Ferris and Stein, some norms are informal and formal. Informal norms are unspoken and formal norms are laws or rules. There are many norms that can’t be written but as humans being, people learned them quite well. To be specific, an informal norm in the mall would be standing in line to buy ice cream. People are waiting to buy ice cream patiently, no one is allow to cut in front of anybody. Another example of informal norm is invade people personal space. When walking around the mall, people are all scattered everywhere. Do not walk close to them or touch them because they will be irritated.

Informal norms are no need to be written down because society teach people to follow it. As for formal norms, they are rules and laws. Formal norms are written down and expected to be follow. However, some people are going to break these rules or laws. Basically, everybody know that no pets are allow in the mall. There was a lady, probably in her early thirty, brought a dog and tried to hide it in her purse. Of course, the security caught her and asked her to leave the mall. She knew not to bring her dog in the mall but yet she did it anyways. Then another boy broke the rule by wearing a jacket with a hood in the mall.

Hats, masks, and sweaters with hood are not allow. Everyone needs to show their face and not try to hide anything. The boy listened to the security and took off his hood. However, if the security sees that the boy puts the hood on again, then he has to leave the mall. These norms are important in the shopping mall because the mall should be a safe place for everyone to hang out. If there are no norms, people would trash the mall and the mall is no longer a safe place to hang out. Social control is “the formal and informal mechanisms used to increase conformity to values and norms and thus increase social cohesion”(Ferris and Stein 105).

Everybody needs to follow and obey the rules or there will be consequences. However, social control is established by sanctions. According to Ferris and Stein, sanctions are “ a means of enforcing norms”(105). There are positive and negative sanctions. Positive sanctions are approval such as handshake, smile, praise, or reward. Negative sanctions are disapproval like harsh words, fine, or even jail. Some examples of positive sanctions are when the employees greet and shake hands with the customers. Also, this one young girl picked up a piece of trash and put it in the trash can.

The janitor came and said thanks. Some of the negative sanctions examples are when one little boy got asked if he took some candies. The boy was about ten year old and he took some candies from Godiva. Even though the security did not arrest him but the boy was ask to leave. The boy received some harsh words from the security. Also the lady brought her dog broke the rules so she has to be punished by leaving the mall. Social control and sanctions are important in a shopping mall because they give order and everyone must follow.

Without social control and sanctions, people would do whatever they want and there will be chaos. This mall observation was a great learning experience. This world would be crazy and chaos if there are no signs, norms, and social control. People would disrespect one another and there would be no order. This observation was interesting because it gave knowledge about human social activity. All people are trying to obey rules and regulations. However, there will always be someone who breaks the rules in order to adapt to a new culture.

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