What shouldn't be considered normal

Normality and norms

Normality and norms

What is normal, what is abnormal? The ideas about what and what does not conform to social norms differ from country to country. And they change over time - also in Germany.

In Germany it is "normal" to celebrate with the family, especially at festivals like Christmas or Easter. Only once a year is nothing in this country as it is otherwise. Then, when - as it is called in the Rhineland - “the junkies are on”. The "Jecken" are the crazy people that you don't like so much in "normal" everyday life - except of course in the Rhineland, where the saying goes: "Every Jeck is different." sometimes be a little crazy. But what is it actually, normality? How does it come about and what is it for? The word "normality" comes from "standard". And there is even an institute for them in Germany: the Institute for Standardization, or DIN for short, with thousands of experts. These ensure, for example, that the A4 size paper fits into the printer, the light bulb fits into the socket and the plug fits into the socket. Standards create success, as the institute writes on its website on the Internet:

Norms promote global trade and serve rationalization, the Quality assurance, the protection of society as well as security and understanding. Standards bring about a high economic benefit, which for Germany was put at around 17 billion euros per year. "

What is being said in beautiful official German should mean something like: Certain work processes can be shortened, streamlined, because there are norms. Also the quality of products and services can be guaranteed by uniform standards, ensured, become. And because they exist, they benefit a country's economy. However, the institute is not responsible for what we humans think about what is normal. Historians and sociologists, for example, deal with this. They discover that in antiquity it was normal to keep slaves, in the Middle Ages to die at the age of 30 and in the 15th century to think that the earth was a disk from which you would fall into infinity if you were to take a ship with you dared far to the edge of the sea. What is normal changes, however, emphasizes Doris Lucke, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bonn:

“You have that, for example, when people, as has happened, since the [19] 80s, first in university towns, then in the meantime also in the flat land to begin, without marriage certificate to contract. They don't marry anymore. And suddenly those who good and have married properly, let them ask: "Tell me, why are you getting married?" Quite similar when having children. That has also changed. 'Tell me, how can you have children now, into this world?' "

Doris Lucke makes it clear that social norms have changed and continue to change in Germany. In the late 1970s it was still open to unmarried couples, to couples without marriage certificate, difficult to rent a shared apartment. According to Doris Lucke, this is normal today, even in rural areas flat land. This formulation is always used when one wants to express a contrast to urban life, because outside the cities, on the flat countryside, people live in village-like conditions. There, among other things, attention is paid to whether someone is good, i.e. adapted to the prevailing norms, behaves. But there is another striking example of a change from normality, says Doris Lucke:

“Take off smoking. The ‘n sign of women's emancipation used to be that they smoked on the street. Today smokers have to be on train platforms in ‘N marked small fieldput. You can also see how the Legitimacies radical of certain courses of action turning back.“

While smoking used to be considered normal and legitimate, smoking is now banned in many areas of public and professional life. For example, smokers have had to stop at German train stations since 2007 in a specially colored one Field. Legitimaciessweep - as Doris Lucke puts it - around. What is normal and what is abnormal is determined by society as a whole. Normality has a lot to do with being taken for granted, with what someone is used to and therefore considers right. Without the idea of ​​normality, emphasizes Doris Lucke, we are incapable of acting in everyday life:

“I once had a student who went to street cafés in Bonn, sat down there on a café chair, took out a book and read. And when the waiter came and said what she wanted to order, then she said, “I want to sit here.” And then it was very interesting to see what the waiter was doing when he suddenly out his Everyday routinescatapulted becomes."

The sociology student got the waiters with her experiment out of what they are otherwise used to Everyday routinecatapulted out, shot out like a bullet from an ancient throwing machine, a catapult. She deliberately sat down in the cafés with her book and answered the waiter's question that she didn't order anything, just read. Whether it's the way we greet each other or the image we admire in a successful manager, sociology examines this normality and questions it. But it's not just about shattering beloved assessments, emphasizes Doris Lucke. It is always about showing that there is an alternative to almost every behavior. Norms require you to adapt. Otherwise, outsiders are created or people are made to flee normality - and not only in dictatorships, as Doris Lucke reports:

"I have an example of a colleague who developed an illness - Parkinson's. And he wanted to hide it in Germany because as a professor that is not necessarily the cheapest thing that can happen to you in life. And then he went to New York. And then he said, he thought, there are so many crazy people in New York, right? Abnormalthat he won't be noticed there. And so he was able to live as an inconspicuous person in New York for at least certain years of his life, which would not have been possible for him in a smaller German university town here in Germany. "

Doris Luckes university colleague was at that Parkinson'sSyndrome, also called paralysis. This term roughly expresses how the disease presents itself. Parkinson's sufferers can no longer control their muscles. They tremble, they shake. If they move, then only very slowly. The disease is named after the English doctor Dr. James Parkinson, who first described it in the early 19th century. Many celebrities also contracted Parkinson's, such as boxer Muhammad Ali. But a professor who is so ill and still stands in front of students and teaches? For Doris Luckes colleagues that was inconceivable. That's why he moved to an American metropolis where, among all the many, abnormal People, would not attract attention. As he thought, that would not have been possible for him in a German university town like Bonn.


Work order
Who or what is normal for you? What do you find abnormal? Find examples of both and justify it in a short presentation in front of your study group.