Conformity is crudely defined as a social influence that involves some change or alteration in the behavior, perception or belief of an individual in order to have him dissolved in a particular group or society. There are basically pressure groups which are capable of taking different shapes. Criticism, persuasion, bullying etc. are some of the facets. Conformity might also be used to illustrate the combination of identification, normative and informational aspects of the individual and society.
This has been a concern of every age. A human is not programed and hence subjected to change not just of conceptions but beliefs and behaviors as well. Most of the times it is intentional but there are circumstances in which he just has to accept something against his will and approval. Conformity is a combination of the demands of the society and the individual’s personality. Emerson came up with the concept of “self-reliance”. It tells us to trust and value our opinions. The society might suppress them when we get in touch with its people because it only aims at gathering wealth and boosting status ensuring homogeneity. It does not have much to do with the individual concern of self-expression and freedom. According to Emerson, when we are in our own world we listen those voices clearly. We are afraid of voicing our opinions in the society because when we do, we are labeled as “others”. The fear of being treated as alien prevents us from doing so and hence we conform to the rules without knowing what we are and what we want. For him, a few aspects in the society are connected and have an intense impact on the life of the individuals. Fulfillment and success, conformity and self-expression, group and isolation are the most important elements in this regard. He wants us to distinguish from the society by exploring what is inside us and what makes us. Conforming to the society is the next stage and it can be done better after gripping the capabilities we are blessed with. One has to embrace the society’s chaos and stand up to it by letting go bravely.
Society always promotes conformity and awards it. People support homogeneity in the society and hence stand against those who act, behave or belief differently. Homosexuality is one of the contemporary examples. Most of the societies don’t approve it as a normal behavior. This act of disconfirmation by the homosexuals subjects them to social disapproval and disgust. A lot of students are shunned in the high schools just because they don’t follow the latest trends in fashion, or hate going to the football and dressing up in Goth at the prom. Even in the class, if everyone sides one answer of the discussion or the question, nobody raises the hand to come up with a different answer or opinion. They all seemingly agree, hence conform. In order to have respect, reputation, satisfaction and social approval, conformity becomes unavoidable.
A number of other examples from the everyday and modern world can be quoted under the same belt but in short when individuals don’t fit in the society by following its trends, they are ridiculed and punishedin different ways, however if they dilute themselves and act as a homogenous part of it by blending in, they are rewarded and society supports them in every possible way.
Szalavitx, Maia. "Why We Conform to the Group: It Gets Your Brain High." 4 November 2010. Health Land. 21 November 2013 <http://healthland.time.com/2010/11/04/why-we-conform-to-the-group-it-gets-your-brain-high/>.