Residents, male or female, looked up to recognize the presence of other individuals then immediately glanced away for the rest of the elevator ride. In a dorm that is constantly filled with a social atmosphere of laughter and noise, the elevators are contrastingly silent. Accordingly, most elevator rides were filled with silence, as the residents did not engage in conversation. Erving Goffman, a prominent sociologist described civil inattention as: The surface character of public order. Civil inattention portrays why the residents avoided making eye contact during the elevator rides. These avoidance behaviors illustrated by the interviewees are part of a phenomenon called civil inattention.
However, students in dorm room elevators do not interact, even though they share a common space. Hence, in this ethnography, I investigated the cultural motivations behind the lack of interaction among students on the elevator. Civil inattention can seem cold and uncaring for someone new to a city, for example, whereas locally it's recognized as a social norm that maintains peaceful co-existence between people in population dense areas. I recorded the observations on my phone to avoid attracting attention. To create this perception, I was on my phone during the elevator ride and avoided prolonged eye contact with the other residents.
In other words, civil inattention is practiced in elevators to make the residents feel comfortable in the space of an elevator. By breaking the inattention, being less covert, a person increases the possibility for social interactions with strangers. I observed that the majority of individuals were either on their phones, staring straight ahead, or down at the floor. It encompasses the tendency of strangers in close proximity to not impose upon one another. The behavior, of utilizing a phone, illustrates the individualist-oriented environment. This phenomenon of silence is due to the fact that residents strive to maintain comfort in a small space, avoid eye contact to give other elevator riders a sense of privacy, and occupy themselves with individual activities to appear focused on themselves. As a researcher, I acted like a normal resident taking the elevator as a form of transportation.
This scenario depicts the normal interaction that takes place on an elevator ride in Ehringhaus dormitory. Methods I rode the elevators at the single location of Ehringhaus, a dorm at the University of North Carolina, during different times of the day to make observations and analyze the cultural motivations of the lack of interaction. Seemingly though not in reality effortless, such civility is a way of shielding others from personal claims in public — an essential feature of the abstract, impersonal relationships demanded by the. She moves over as soon as three other individuals, including me, get on the elevator from the 1 st floor: making sure to distance ourselves as far away as possible in the elevator. Further studies on if these findings apply to other universities would be interesting. All of them could recall at least one aspect of the clothing of the residents exemplifying that their gaze was downward and away from the face and eyes of the other riders.
Studies show a decreased willingness to look at or turn toward a stranger precisely because this possibility of an interaction exists. Furthermore, 3 out of the 4 interviewees could not recall the eye color of any of the residents in their most recent elevator ride. Furthermore, the brevity of a typical elevator ride facilitates an environment that does not require sociability. Through brief eye contact with an approaching stranger, we both acknowledge their presence and foreclose the possibility of more personal contact or of conversation. The reason for the lack of conversation and the fact that residents occupy themselves through other activities is justified through culture. This lack of opportunity of social interaction explains the behavior of the residents choosing not interact in the unwelcoming space of the dorm elevators.
From Wiki: Rather than either ignoring or staring at others, civil inattention involves the unobtrusive and peaceful scanning of others so as to allow for neutral interaction. Therefore, even in the thriving social environment of dorms that emphasize interaction and friendliness, the elevator remains a metal box of silence. Consequently, the adjustment that residents made of distancing themselves on elevator rides reflects the culture of maintaining comfort that Hall illustrated in his study. Two of the residents that I interviewed validated these observations as they both stated that when they ride the elevator they pull out their phones to make the time go by faster. I observed what the residents were doing on the elevators through the duration of the ride and what the residents did to pass time on the elevators: if they initiated a conversation or made eye contact, how they spaced themselves, and their over-all body language.
Each observation lasted about 10-15 minutes. Individualist oriented activities Although elevator rides are relatively short, individuals pass time on their own through participating in various activities that direct their attention away from other elevator riders. However it's recognized that those people who violate the rule without a clear agenda are generally lacking in social skills. Civil Inattention Residents avoid making eye contact with other residents except for when they initially enter the elevator: to steer clear of disturbing one another. Conclusion This ethnographic study demonstrates that residents in Ehringhaus avoid interactions to maintain comfort during elevator rides: reinforcing the concept of civil inattention. Introduction The metal doors open to reveal a female standing in the middle of the tiny brightly lit space. To supplement the observations, I conducted interviews with 4 residents of Ehringhaus to get a perspective into their views on elevator rides.
. The only exception to when residents do not follow avoidance behaviors is when they establish a common connection about the location of their dorm rooms. This anomaly, of initiating a conversation, is due to the fact that they both established something shared: a common living space that can be found in a residence hall. Civil inattention is thus a means of making privacy possible within a crowd through culturally accepted forms of self-distancing. This behavior is practiced to maintain personal space. Each observation was recorded at different times throughout the day to make sure that time did not have an effect on the data. Studies that placed a stimulus or confederate into various social conditions found that responses vary dependent on spatial features, social context, and sex of the passerby.
Hence, the lack of eye contact between the residents, follow the rules of civil inattention. Living in Ehringhaus, a dorm with seven floors, means that taking the elevator is a common occurrence. It's known as the rule of civil inattention. We also signal covertly to accommodate and show respect for one anothers personal space. This response exemplifies that elevators are a confined and solitary space that make residents view elevator rides negatively. In fact, the majority of individuals try to establish personal space by distancing themselves as far apart as possible. Civil inattention is often violated by documentary makers, street photographers and journalists etc.