In the modern workplace, many notions of normality have been reconciled: questions of gender and race, for example, have been reframed as...
What is “normal” vs what we, as a society, consider to be “not normal”? Provide an example.
The concept of “society” etymologically encompasses social relationships (Collins, 2005), and a significant means by which social relationships are enacted is in the workplace. For this reason, the workplace is used as the example by which the question is reflectively analysed.
In the modern workplace, many notions of normality have been reconciled: questions of gender and race, for example, have been reframed as differences which encourage acceptance rather than attracting pejorative judgement (Roach Anleu, 2001). A stark lacuna remains, however, concerning differently exercised social behaviour. Even in the equality-conscious modern workplace, participants who are introspective by nature are disadvantaged by social expectations that favour extroversion (Cain, 2012). This is nothing new: Elias and Scotson (1994) provided analysis of the juxtaposition of elite insiders and disadvantaged outsiders, the social positioning of whom arose largely by virtue of their social abilities. In the modern workplace, however, this has been intensified by the refocusing of expectations away from professional competence towards social sophistication which, empowered by social media, has transformed the ability to “network” both on- and off-line from a desirable quality to a positive requirement (Cain, 2012).
The workplace is but a microcosm of society, and current mores have reframed “normal” as participation in continual communication according to contemporary accepted rules (Elias and Scotson, 1994). The natural corollary of this is a “not normal” outsider group of individuals who, by virtue of their different socialisation, cannot engage with the constant narrative of social life (Cain, 2012). This is unfortunate because, as Cain (2012) notes, such individuals have much to offer that complements, rather than conflicts with, the contributions of their extrovert, “normal” counterparts.
Cain, S. (2012) Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, London: Penguin
Collins (2005) Collins English Dictionary, Glasgow: Harper Collins
Elias, N. and Scotson, J. (1994) The Established and the Outsiders, London: Sage
Roach Anleu, S. (2001) Law and Social Change, London: Sage