Generally, sociological theories argue that human behaviour and actions are influenced by the environment within which they occur, but this influence is not simplistic. It involves how an individual sub-consciously or consciously perceives that environment; that is, what the individual feels the environment requires of them and whether one should act in accordance with or defiance to those requirements, and if so how. This environment can be macro or micro, the former may, for instance, involve a whole culture. The latter may be contextual (such as a drinking den, a classroom or a church).
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I visited a local pub in order to consciously witness this environmental influence on human behaviour and action. This paper is an interpretation of what I witnessed from a perspective of sociological theories and concepts.
Without going into a step-by-step recounting of what happened, as expected, there were those who drank quietly (most of them ladies) and those who got noisy after a few bottles. Some threw obscene words and obscenely touched the bartenders, others were sober, and there were other small categories of characters.
I made a few assumptions about the crowd: of the ‘noisy drunk’, some must have been faking. Of the ‘quiet’, there must have been those who were more drank than the ‘noisy drunk’ and controlling themselves; I also noticed that the barmaids in my observation were not embarrassed or offended.
It occurred to me, albeit with no concrete proof as this was not a controlled setting that I was observing a network of role-playing. ‘Role theory’ argues that how one acts is influenced by the expectations held by oneself or by other people.
From this point, perhaps it can be guessed that those who drank quietly did so because they expected of themselves and others to expect from them some semblance of ‘genteel’ (as a gentleman or lady). It is universally expected that women are refined in manners, and so in spite of drinking or even drinking, the ladies may have been controlling their behaviour to abide by such societal expectations.
Those who were noisy and promiscuous in their behaviour probably did it because they would ‘not’ be cursed for it since it is perhaps expected of one who is drunk. The maids reflected this behaviour in their response to them; they simply jumped out of their reach and laughed off the obscenities, such things are expected if not acceptable and tolerable in a pub anyway.
Related to this is the ‘subcultural theory’. By being a member of a sub-culture within a bigger culture (e.g. a gang), one is expected to subscribe to certain norms. Within a certain subculture, what is otherwise disagreeable outside becomes agreeable when in it. The members of that sub-culture are therefore expected to role-play in accordance with the rules; a pub is a setting of sub-culture.
That said, I got wondering who was acting right and/or wrong in the pub, in other words, how should drunken people act? I guess there can’t be a conclusive answer to this. As alluded to above, the individual chooses how to respond to expectations and plays along or defy. The quiet customers ‘either accepted or refused’ to abide by expectations; the ‘noisy drunk’ as well. What this reflects is that the influence of the environment is not a simplistic one. There is always an interplay of factors that mould ‘that’ environment, in the end, what conforming or deviance in a bar really means cannot be conclusively decided.