We act a certain way based on where we are and who we are with. We categorize our attire with words like “formal” and “casual”. We adjust to any situation we are in. We obey many unspoken rules because we cannot imagine how others would react if we did not. What pressure causes people to confine themselves within the walls of “acceptable” social behavior?
The answer is conformity, which is a form of social control. It is the act of going along with peers—individuals of our own status who have no special right to direct our behavior. Included in this post is the theme music and video clip for a show called “Weeds,” and it gives a great visual representation of conformity in a suburban community. Conformity is parallel to obedience. To conform is such a natural behavior that we do not realize that we conform to societal standards every day. We do, however, acknowledge and enforce conformity when a member of society is being deviant (that describes a term called “negative sanctioning”). Deviance is parallel to disobedience. Essentially, that makes deviance the opposite of conformity. People are either rewarded or punished based on whether they conform to the behavior of their society. So, here is a question: If uniqueness is valued in some cultures, why are people punished for not conforming?
Conformity can be both good and bad. On the positive side, conformity maintains order. Society would be a complete mess if there was no form of social control. People would not be able to learn to function if their society had no guidelines. On the negative side, conformity suppresses the “black sheep” of society. Those who choose not to conform are negatively sanctioned and are pressured to behave. There are those who like to fit in and there are those who like to stand out. Luckily, there will always be deviant people, because without them, the accepted behaviors of societies would never be reinforced and conformity would be lost.
Weeds Theme Song. N.d. YouTube. YouTube, 05 May 2007. Web. 25 Feb. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4KfJztaJ5I>.