Conformity Individuality

Belonging and Conformity: #

We are social beings and need the mutual support of other people.  In order to relate to others we sometimes need to compromise our personal values and go along with their interests and ideas.  We need to conform to society’s expectations to a certain degree.  However it is important that we do not allow the influences of events or other people to destroy the essence of who we are.  The collective needs should not necessarily dominate over private needs, desires or identity.

**Asserting your Individuality:

**          *only dead fish swim with the current
*       **

in a forest, the trees that stand alone become the strongest.

*To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best ,day and night to make you like everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. *e.e. cummings

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. * Nietzsche*


Conformithy:  The desire to belong by needing to adhere to and obey customs, traditions, mores, values and aspirations of:

 a family; nuclear\ extended

 our friends, peer group

 our community, region

 a culture, religion

a state, nation

Compliance requires that we willingly act in accordance with rules or mores of a group. That we stay or keep between the codes, lines or rules.

Advantages of Belonging

I. Safety; uniform traffic laws

II. Security; protective laws

III. law and order prevents anarchy

IV. Need to belong, feel part of society

V. socialises people, makes for harmony.

Disadvantages of too much conformity:

I.  A loss of self-identity

II. inner conflict with personal development

III. Loss of self – reliance, self- awareness, self- expression,  self- creativity or  independence.

IV. Our need to be true to oneself, to maintain our integrity.

V. Produces a dull boring, bland, monolithic, unanimous, homogenous, monochromatic, beige society

VI. Compliance can unimaginative and uncreative. – common, deadening, stagnant, restrictive, stifling, smothering or oppressive.

**Asserting your Individuality:

**          only dead fish swim with the current
          in a forest, the trees that stand alone become the strongest.

The need to be different, singular, unique, diverse, to dissent from the norm or a dominant culture.

self interest, ego-centric

solitary, reclusive, loner

 distinct - unique

 eccentric, Maverick*

 idiosyncratic, misfit, outsider

 bizarre, insane

quaint, odd, abnormal

weird, whacky, queer

offbeat, quirky

 unusual, a reject, unconventional

hermit, recluse


 deviant, aberrant

***mav·er·ick    **noun

  1. Southwestern U.S. an unbranded calf, cow, or steer, especially an unbranded calf that is separated from its mother.

2.  a. a lone dissenter, as an intellectual, an artist, or a politician, who takes an independent stand apart from his or her associates: a modern-dance maverick. Synonyms: nonconformist, individualist; free thinker; loner, lone wolf.

b.  a person pursuing rebellious, even potentially disruptive, policies or ideas: You can’t muzzle a maverick. Synonyms: rebel, cowboy; loose cannon.


“Renegade: a deserter from one faith, cause, or allegiance to another; an individual who rejects lawful or conventional behavior.”  - also called an Apostate.


Individuality can be beneficial for many reasons:

I.   For Creativity

II.  For progress, advancement

III. For freedom

IV. For a pluralistic society

V. To dare to be different

VI. It adds colour, diversity and interest to groups or society


Too much individuality can be detrimental for the following reasons:

I. We lose contact with reality or people

II. We become socially maladjusted

III. We become  disconnected, dislocated,

IV. We become isolated or alienated

How we do conform:

I. Language

II. Manners

III. Morals/Values/ Beliefs

IV. Laws/ School rules

VII. Culture /Religion

V.  Unwritten Codes

IX. Family traditions

X. Clothing

XI. Male / Female roles! stereotypes



In this age the mere example of nonconformity. the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom. is a service. Precisely because a tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach. it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric.

Eccentricity has always abounded: and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

Motto of Sorbonne University (Paris)

Fluctuate / Nee / Mergitor

=Be individual /but / mingle

=unique / also / adaptable

= Belong but be true to yourself

Awful Togetherness

The subway during evening rush hour. What I see of the people are tired faces and limbs, hatred and anger. I feel someone might at any moment draw a knife — just so. They read, or rather they are soaked in their newspaper or magazine or paperback. And yet, a couple of hours later, the same people, deodorised, washed, dressed—up or down, maybe happy and tender, really smile, and forget (or remember). But most of them will probably have some awful togetherness; or aloneness at home.

from ‘One Dimensional Man’ by Herbert Marcuse, U.S.A. 1960s.



I am terrified by the enormous gap between me and every other individual - I hate to think that my mother can’t know my needs without having to tell her or that my father could rape my best friend. I want to set up a home and family with the person I love, but I hate the idea of promising to feel the same way 30 years later, when your proposed partner for life is in effect a complete stranger, as both of you are sure to have changed.


17 year—old girl, in a survey of attitudes to modern Society, England 1970s.



We are products of our Physical Surroundings


For all that the revolution in communications has wrought – a connectedness that transcends all physical limitations – we live most of our lives in a small physical world, from childhood on, and in a sense we know each other only to the extent that we know that world and can relate to it.

Annabel Crabb’s profile of Turnbull

We are all aliens to ourselves, and if we have any sense of who we are, it is only because we live inside the eyes of others.

The Book of Illusions - Ed Wright