Panhandling - Norms Violation

Panhandling - Norms Violation

  • Submitted By: Yaacov
  • Date Submitted: 05/11/2013 12:54 AM
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Words: 1783
  • Page: 8
  • Views: 168

Sociology 447
Fall 2011
University of Arizona


A description of an informal observational experiment conducted at the Ronstadt Transit Center in downtown Tucson, Arizona using solicitation of money (panhandling) within a random target sample size of thirty solicited persons of adult age approached and asked for money to be used specifically for gasoline, food or bus fare. The reaction of each was recorded and analyzed to consider the question: “Is begging a violation of social norms (folkways or mores)?”


Folkways and mores constitute elementary processes in the development of society (Clement, 2010) and evolve as spontaneous dynamic approved behaviors which incur informal sanctions if violated. According to Clement (2010), folkways are the foundation of every culture, help solve problems, contribute to stability of social relations and have become a universal characteristic of human societies.

Sumner. in his influential work Folkways (1906), discusses mores as handed down without being documented, possessing the authority of facts, containing within themselves their own justification, and developing philosophical and ethical generalities. These generalities in turn have been elevated to “principles of truth and right (Sumner, 1906).”

Is poverty socially constructed? All people are different and have specific needs. Poverty, and its conceptual opposite wealth, should be seen as a spectrum, not as a binary, rich and poor. The construction of rich/poor as a binary and the placement of particular individuals on either side is a result of power relations and hegemonic beliefs about ideal productivity and about notions of usefulness, independence, and social and economic contributions (Ben-Moshe, et al., in Amster, 2009). This creates the “us and them” divide, producer and consumer, management and labor, male and female, and the rich and poor.

Capitalism has led to values emphasizing workforce...

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