Why do people conform?
People use to be conforming because of external factors, where other people that inspire an authority over a person, such as parents, teachers, coaches, the priest e.t.c that have governed all over his or her childhood create a conformist thinking about rules in the society. This is also known as acceptance to rules or fear to rules. These kind of people teach young people how should be a normal behavior in a social community, such as doing obvious things like urinating in bathrooms instead of urinating in the streets or treating people in a good way instead of hitting them just for nothing. As Merton (Criminal researcher), said in his research of Criminal´s behavior; a person who follows rules is conformed so they would not commit a crime to achieve their goals.
So the main reason of conformism in people is not just because they do not want to get further achieving his or her goals by doing illegal things, it is because they have been injected with rules of behavior most of their life by controls made by authority figures.
Why do others not conform?
So in this order of ideas, people who do not conform, must be not only people who were not injected with those rules and ideas of following behavior patterns to have a “normal” life in a certain social community, but also people who realize that delinquency is worthier than following the rules. Most people who break the rules (because of the not conform theory), like to achieve goals, it doesn´t matter which will be the means to get there. They are not very well familiar with rules, so they think they are not doing anything wrong, instead of that, they just want to get into the end, so the mean used is not important. Conformity could be understood in a positive or a negative way, it depends on what are the means used to achieve goals. Just like Maquiavelo said in his book "the Prince". When such things happen, we need more and better controls.
Who decides what is morally right or wrong?
The decision about what is morally right or wrong is a social idea which depends on the type of society we are looking on; for example, what is morally right in eastern Countries like China Asia or Japan, is not always good looking in western countries like Colombia or United States. So to go further, what is morally right for societies like Al Qaeda is morally wrong for societies like Mormon society of United States. The Moral concept is not a group of rules from a certain religion; the moral concept is the group of rules that a society accepts, so the person who does not follow those rules will be considerate as amoral for that society, this amoral person, could be a not conformist one.
Why does this matter to criminologists and criminal justice policymakers?
When we are talking about that in a society there are behavior patterns that determine what is right or what is wrong, we are accepting that there are some rules that must be followed, so the member of that society, should be able to follow the rules. However, the one who breaks the rules will be considerate as an antisocial, a freak, or even worst as a “Criminal”. People like Merton had studied a lot about the topic of anomie, as a criminal factor divided into several facts like Innovation, Conform, Ritualism, Apathy and Rebellion as patterns that could help criminologists and criminal justice policymakers to understand a criminal behavior, and so they will help people to have better societies.
Hirchi´s Social bond and self - control theories
In 1960´s, there were a big change about way of thinking of young people, that Hirchi called “Social disorganization” and which caused big changes in people traditions such as how to talk, behave, dress, act etc. everybody was in a period of time that music, freedom, marihuana, love and friends were much more important that many other things. This period also changed the Criminal studies of many searchers that were followers of people like Merton and Durkheim just like Hirchi. It was not enough to think about conform and not conform as a pattern of behavior, there was something else, other social controls growing out, like bond control in young people who need acceptance from other people like family, friends and neighbors, that is a shame that makes the person think first about what other people will think if and another control that is more internal, it is a self-control that is more for adult people that are for their own. These were the social bond and self-control theories that reinforced past theories.
- Hirchi T. (1969). Causes of Delinquency. Key Idea: Hirchi´s Social bond/social control theory. PDF
- Criminological Theory; Context and Consequences, 5th edition, Lilly, Cullen and Ball (2011). Chapter 5 and 6. PDF