Society is what keeps us anchored in life. it is what keeps us “human” so to speak. Humans are pack animals for a reason. Perhaps we need other people less than we ever hand thanks to technology but even with all the changes that have come about in the world we still have an intrinsic need to be around people.
Society is sort of like the checks and balances of morality, ethics and the greater good. While each society that has been formed through out history has helped humans to grow exponentially and progress however society can sometimes actually keep the individual from growing.
Conformity is an expectation within every society. It is expected that each member of society will do their part to live in harmony with the other members. Conformity is a word that has become some what taboo. Conformist do not change the world is the battle cry of those that live on the edge of society.
Society is a complex array of those that do and those that don’t, conform that is but even that assessment is not actually true. There are members of each society that conform in some ways but do not conform in others. So you really have three groups, those that conform and follow the rules, those that refuse to conform at all and those that conform sometimes and not others.
Society as a Whole
The goal of any society is to move forward as a whole. To share the wealth within that society however since the beginning of time “sharing the wealth” has not really been the way things go. There has always been a hierarchy within each society, the have’s and the have-nots. While it is true that in some societies the hierarchy is disguised and not that obvious but in many it is very obvious.
Many of the reasons that people do not conform to societal expectations is because of the hierarchy and “unfairness” of society. Many people would argue that without the non-conformist there would be no change within society. There are good things about conforming to society and there are not so good things about conforming to society. The list of pros and cons below can help you balance what you believe.
List the Pros of Conformity in Society
1. Smooth function.
A strong society depends on people to conform to run smoothly. Following the rules and regulations for living within a society allows the group to grow. Conformist bolster the operation of society.
2. Dissemination of the work load.
Conformists help a society to hum along. Conformity results in a fair distribution of the work load and allows the society to succeed and grow. When everyone does their “fair share” pays taxes and works towards a common good within the guidelines of a society it is best for the greater good. It takes work for a society to be successful. Each member has to contribute and carry their share of the work.
3. Safety net.
Conformist provide a safety net for the rest of society. By conforming to the rules of society it actually helps even those that do not conform. People that live within the realm of social acceptability actually provide a safe place for non-conformist to live as well as the conformist. In most societies there are “safety nets” set up for the old or disabled so that they can enjoy some of the spoils of the workers. This safety net would not be possible without the conformists that abide the by the rules, work and pay taxes.
Conforming to society provides protection from threats. There are strength in numbers and just like our ancestors had to form societies to protect them from wild animals and other threats, societies today protect the group for threats against resources. When a society is strong and well managed and each member conforms it provides a wall of protection against threats to natural resources.
Those that go a long to get along help to keep society calm and harmonious. They provide society with a peaceful base from which to grow.
6. Rule enforcement.
Society has rules for a reason. Without the rules it would be a haphazard environment where no one would benefit. Rule enforcement with penalties is typically established by those that conform to the idea of the society that they live in. This is an important function of society. As a matter of fact if a society is without rules and there is no enforcement of the rules with penalties there is anarchy which results in no one in the group living in harmony or success.
List the Cons of Conformity in Society
1. Conformists do NOT change the world.
There are plenty of things in every society that is unjust and unfair. Without people that are non-conformist there would never be change. Non-conformists offer a checks and balance system within society that can help to point out what is unfair or unjust in a society. If everyone conformed to society and did not question the rules than there would be no change. Non conformists are the people that change society for the better.
2. Lack of diversity.
If everyone conformed to the rules of society there would be a lack of diversity. If everyone lived within the guidelines and belief systems of their society it would be a very dull drab environment. Non conformists make the world a bit more colorful.
3. Law breakers.
Not all laws are just. Conformists that follow every rule of society without question are actually setting themselves up for failure. A blind belief in any system without question is a dangerous way to move through life and is not good for society. Some laws are meant to be broken. Conformists that refuse to break a rule and just go along to get along offer up too much of their own power to the powers in charge. With each unjust rule that is conformed to the members of society afford the people in charge too much power which can be very dangerous.
4. Conformity manifests apathy.
Conformity can manifest a certain amount of apathy towards others. Many conformists feel that “If I can do it so can they” and look to the higher powers to handle problems within society. Conforming means not questioning authority and putting a blind trust in the leaders of society. This blind trust can be dangerous when it comes to problems within society. Conformity can breed a sense of “not my problem”. Giving over the power to the leaders can mean ignoring social justice issues because after all “they are the ones in charge and they should do something about it”. Conformity can release the individual from feelings of outrage and the need for action over social injustice.
5. Conformity can breed people that are not thinkers.
It can be easy to give over everything to society without giving anything any thought. Of course it is good for society but not so great for the individual to simply mover through life without much consideration.
6. Conformity can cause an unjust world.
Not every society is based on what is good for the greater good. In some societal experiments that have failed miserably (think Nazi Germany) the powerful are not “in it” for the greater good. Unjust actions by society is largely fueled by the conformist. One of the greatest indications that conformity is an issue was displayed by the Nazi soldiers that took part in the genocide of millions of Jews. When asked why they did what they did they said “we were just following orders”. It can be a very dangerous thing to go through life without questioning authority and that is the main motive of conformists.
One of the major cons of a society without conformity is anarchy. If everyone is doing their own thing and there are no guidelines set up anarchy results. Anarchy without purpose does not benefit the greater good.
Ultimately there is a need within every society for both the conformist and the non-conformist. Both of these groups provide a balance within society. One cannot effectively exist without the other. There has to be a balance as well within each group. There is no hard line for either side. Conformity is a necessity to ensure that society is successful. Non conformity is also a necessity to ensure that the leaders do not get too much power over the people.
There are needs for both conformist and non-conformists. There are needs for rules and rule breakers. It allows for a system that is fluid and that can be changed when there is a need for change. Conformity is a good thing within limits but there has to be those that refuse to conform to every rule.
The balance between conforming and non-conforming is a tight rope of sorts. If there are too many people that do not conform than society does not work. If there are too many people that do conform there is a risk that the power will be skewed and humans cannot be trusted with too much power.
The balance is that there should be more people that do conform than there are people that do not. The perfect balance means that society can function as a whole but that there will be enough questions asked and enough peaceful uprisings against unfair or unjust rules. The right balance can help a society to grow and prosper.