Challenge and Change in Society HSB4M


‘The Power of Conformity’

  An example of people’s overwhelming needs to conform to a social paradigm What is conformity?

Discussion Questions: Society

 In today’s society – are there pressures to conform? In what ways?   What are the repercussions to not “conforming”?

How different would life be?

Activity: Small Group Discussion    In small group list all the different ways you are pressured to conform in society Do you Conform? What happens if you don’t?

  How much of a role does family, friends and school play in the pressure in your life to conform?

Do you notice this pressure on a daily basis?

Does society need its citizens to conform to function effectively?

History of Alienation – Max Weber

Max Weber

  Famous German sociologist He was concerned that social values of grace and compassion would be replaced by cold utilitarian values  According to sociologist Max Weber, people provoke social change when they feel isolated from society.

Karl Marx

  Famous German sociologist Marx believed that alienation refers to the separation of things that naturally belong together   Putting something in between two things that belong in harmony Believed that alienation was a systematic result of capitalism


   Refers to an individual separation from a community or group of people in general This is also known as an anomie  Refers to a personal condition resulting in a lack of norms i.e. A totalitarian society would produce an anomic individual such as Hitler


   Known as a state of seclusion i.e. a lack of contact with people May stem from:  Bad relationships  Deliberate choice  Contagious disease  Repulsive personal habits  Mental illness

Isolation in society

 Feeling marginalized in society could force people to resist the social norm  Unrest in society could lead to isolation, not feeling included in society


   Process whereby an individual’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours are influenced by other people Could be the result of social pressure People often conform to achieve a sense of security in a group of people – a feeling that makes one ‘belong’

Pressures to Conform

  An unwillingness to conform could risk social rejection An individual who is deliberately excluded from a social relationship or social interaction is a victim of social rejection.

 Conformity acts as a scapegoat in order to avoid bullying and criticism from peers.

Key Questions for Today

   What groups in society may feel socially isolated?

Why is this?

What groups in society are forced to conform?

The Asch Experiment

     The Asch Experiment by American psychologist Solomon E. Asch Performed in the 1950’s that demonstrated the power of conformity in groups Asch asked groups of students to participate in a “vision test” All but one of the participants were being experimented The study was about how the remaining student would react to participant answers

The Asch Experiment

Conformity in Contemporary Society   Most people conform to the standard values and norms without even realizing they are doing so Some degree of conformity is necessary for societies to function  i.e. Stopping at a red light means that you are conforming to the law and the good and safety of society

Conformity and Youth

• • • • Pre-teens and teenagers face many issues related to conformity Pulled between the desire to be seen as unique individuals and desire to belong to a group where they feel accepted i.e. wearing the latest fashion, cutting your hair into a certain style, smoking, changing the type of music you listen to All of these are examples of conforming to a social norm


• • • • Discuss the following questions with your group: A) What are the triggers to conform in this scenario?

B) What feelings did the person in the situation feel to potentially make them change their behaviour? C) What would you have done in this situation?

Scenario 1

 You are waiting to cross the street and the light is red. A group of pedestrians start to cross the street before the green light even though there remains some risk of oncoming traffic. What do you do?

Scenario 2

 You are looking for garbage at a concert. You find one but it is full and you see people just throwing garbage on the ground around the garbage can. What do you do?

Scenario 3

• You have been standing in line for hours waiting to buy tickets for a concert / sports game. A group of 6 people try to ‘bud’ in line with a friend. The people waiting start yelling and objecting as there are only a specific amount of tickets. What do you do?

Scenario 4

 A senior student approaches you and a bunch of your friends offering to sell you his / her old assignments and copy of tests for a class. All of your friends agree to this and are waiting for your decision. What do you do?

Scenario 5

 You have just started a new job and are sitting around with your new co-workers. Someone tells a joke that is very racist and everyone is laughing and starts telling more racist jokes that you find offensive. What do you do?

Scenario 6

 A bunch of you are at a friends for dinner—after dinner all your friends get up from the table and leave their plates as you are late for a party. You have been brought up to always clear your plate from the table and help clean up. What do you do?


 Which situation would be the most easy and most difficult in terms of resisting conformity?

 Why?

 Task: see website / moodle