Morning Ritual

My Morning Ritual — An Exercise in Social Observation — First Draft

Every morning each of us undertakes more or less of an amazing transformation from private snuggler to public performer. We put down what we were doing in our dreams and pick up what we need for the wide awake world of everyday life. We move from one level of alertness to another, from one level of self consciousness to another, from one stage to another. We move to different parts of our homes, we eliminating some smells and apply others, we wash some things off and put others one. We move from a realm where time is suspended to one in which clock ticks may rule our every movement as we try to get to work on time. We eat special foods and carry out special routines, all as a part of "getting ourself ready for our day."
This assignment amounts to becoming a sociological observer of someone — namely you — carrying out this transformation. You should observe yourself on one or more typical mornings and take notes describing the things you do to facilitate your daily journey from one world to the other, your morning sequence of border crossings.

The goal is to be richly descriptive. These are meant to be observations, data, fieldnotes — it won't do to say "I got up and got ready for school." Pay attention to things that are too automatic, too routine for you to notice normally. Be aware of what you assume everyone knows as you describe. Put on your sociological lenses so that you can see what you normally take for granted.

To help you out, here are some of the issues we'll discuss about your observations. You do not need to address these in your essay — we will talk about them later. What do we learn of time and sequence (do some things have to come first or last?), places (are some locations more a part of one world than the other?) and objects (what tools do you use to carry out your world travel?). Where are the boundaries and borders? Temporal? Spatial? Where do you leave the remnants of your preparations? Are there things that are a necessary part of your routine and other things optional? Which things do you describe in detail? Which things do you only name or allude to? Why? Which actions and routines are purely personal and which ones social?

Your observations should amount to three to four pages of "journaling." It might contain chronology, lists of items and activities, thick descriptions, etc. After you have collected at least this much material, start to think about themes and patterns you see in it. Think about how you would assemble this material to tell the story of the ritual that gets you from one role to another each morning. Make a photocopy of several pages of the material for your first submission (Monday). Then, pull it together in a short essay for Wednesday. This essay should be self contained. This means that it should have a beginning which indicates what you are going to talk about in the essay — the promise. After this, we get the fulfillment of the promise. At the end, a summary or wrapup or closing that leaves us satisfied, with a sense of closure. For this assignment, minimal introductions and conclusions are necessary, but don't just start unannounced and finish with a suddenness that leaves us unsure of whether we've reached the end or not.

Remember, this piece is meant to be observational not analytical. Tell us what you see.

Be sure to submit your work in the proper format.