Sociology: Wearing A Headscarf Essay Samples
Research Question: As a female, does wearing a headscarf in public change the way that other people interact with me or treat me? What are the differences in the ways that people treat individuals wearing headscarves in public?
Hypotheses: I suspect that when I begin to wear the hijab in public, there will be changes in the way that people treat me. The biggest changes will probably come from the people I know, but the experiment will not be about people who know me and the reactions that they are having to the hijab. I am more interested in the ways that other people will react, most notably strangers. I suspect that strangers will either treat me in the same way that they normally do, or that they will treat me in a way that is more negative. The locations that I chose to perform this experiment were at work—I work as a waitress at Max and Erma’s—at school, and during my daily errands.
I hypothesize that I will be tipped less while wearing a headscarf and working at Max and Erma’s. I also suspect that there will be some questions from customers as a result of my headscarf, because Max and Erma’s is a hamburger restaurant, and some of the products are pork products. At school, I expect little to no change from the way people would normally treat me and the way that they would normally act towards me; I might receive some questions, but I do not hypothesize that the attention I am likely to receive will be negative. I hypothesize that while out in public doing errands, I am likely to receive more assistance from shopkeepers and clerks because of my hijab.
Methods: Because I thought that I would receive the least reaction at school, the first place I wore my hijab was to school. I did this to ensure that I got a baseline “control” reading for how people were going to react to seeing me in a hijab. I know this is not truly a control group, but it did serve to give me a good understanding of how people in my peer group view the hijab, and how young people react to the hijab. This was a way for me to gauge how people will generally react to something unusual in an environment like a school—it is a public place, and one that encourages people to interact, so I expected to have some reaction to the hijab at school, although I did not expect highly negative reactions.
The second place I wore the hijab was at work. The hijab is something that is protected by law, and my employer is not allowed to ask me why I wear it or forbid me from wearing it, but I suspect that there will be some questions about the hijab from my employer; these are likely to be in good faith, however, and are unlikely to be problematic. I will wear the hijab while I serve, and answer any and all questions politely with the explanation that I wear the hijab for modesty and religious purposes.
Finally, I will wear the hijab on my daily errands to the grocery store and whatever other miscellaneous errands that need to be done during the day; during this time, I will not seek out conversations with anyone, but if anyone addresses me or asks me any questions, I will again respond politely with an explanation that I wear the hijab for religious regions, to protect my modesty.
Findings: I found that there was almost no one who was willing to discuss the fact that I was wearing a hijab with me. Friends and family were more than willing to comment, but for the most part, people who were strangers to me were not willing to talk to me about the hijab. The only questions I got were about my willingness to serve pork products to certain tables at work; the people who I served were unfailingly polite about their questions, and seemed genuinely concerned that I would be comfortable. I did not experience any changes in the way I was tipped at work, and I experienced no harassment of any kind during my time wearing the hijab. I found this strange, but perhaps the violation of this particular norm needs to be done for a longer period of time before I am able to experience someone or a group of people who are willing to comment on my violation of this norm.
Conclusion: By putting on the hijab, I violated a social norm, but I believe I discovered a larger American social norm in the process: the fact that most Americans take the idea of religious and personal freedom seriously enough to ignore the violation of a social norm in favor of saying nothing. I experienced no rudeness (although I’m sure I would have had I done a longer experiment) and I was shocked at people’s willingness to accept the social norm that I had violated by wearing the hijab.
Hopkins, Nick, and Ronni Michelle Greenwood. 'Hijab, Visibility And The Performance Of Identity'.Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 43.5 (2013): 438-447. Web.
Mansson McGinty, Anna. 'Emotional Geographies Of Veiling: The Meanings Of The Hijab For Five Palestinian American Muslim Women'. Gender, Place & Culture 21.6 (2013): 683-700. Web.