Free Essay

Conforming to Mass Culture in America

In: Social Issues

Submitted By long
Words 1527
Pages 7
Americans like to imagine themselves as unique individuals unlike anyone else and that we all possess specific characteristics that distinguish us from the pack. However, despite our illusions, the majority of human beings conform to some set of societal rules most of the time. We drive on the right side of the road; children attend school and adults work; these are examples of conformity for obvious reasons; society is based on rules that keep our society functioning, if there were no rules then our entire structure would break down. The question of this thesis is to investigate why individuals give in to less important reasons to conform. Why do a group of teenagers prefer to wear one brand of clothing over another, why do teenagers judge others for their choice of clothes, electronics, and hairstyles? Why do adults feel the need to live in certain areas over others, why do they find fulfillment in the type of car they drive?
For decades, advertisers have portrayed a happy and successful lifestyle by using images of consumption. We are told that to measure our success in life we must use status symbols of designer clothes, cars, jewelry and our choice of neighborhoods and homes. Americans have been seduced into the belief that without designer labels and expensive electronics, our lives are not complete and that we are not truly fulfilled. Through advertising, consumers are persuaded to base purchases not on need or want but as a way to show others that they are happy, healthy, and successful and to show their prestige.
People want others to acknowledge their prestige (Henslin 2010) and conformity is the tendency of an individual to change their thinking and behavior to the social norms to garner respect. The most apparent effect of conformity is shown in fashion and style. I wonder about whether the majority of our population likes the clothes they wear because they actually like them, and not just because everybody else is wearing them. I find it hard to believe that anyone would just have to own clothing that spells “Juicy” across their backside. We live in the age where all across the country people are eating the exact same Big Mac's, and shopping at the same Abercrombie & Fitch. The unique and independently owned businesses have been replaced by chain stores appearing in every city of every state. Blocks of identical houses line up in rows. Gap and Old Navy are mass-producing more copies than all the genetic engineers and at a speed copy machines could only dream of reaching. The pressure to conform is inevitable and hard to fight.
The most persuasive form of conformity in the American culture is advertising. Through this medium companies can offer willing consumers the means to finding happiness. There are a number of proven ways to persuade the consumer that he or she needs the product being advertised. These methods of persuasion, instead of concentrating on the actual product, usually concentrate on the benefits that will be brought to the consumer. These benefits may include the hope of more money and better jobs, popularity and personal prestige, praise from others, more comfort, social advancement, improved appearance, or better health. For example, an automobile advertisement would most likely focus on the excitement, prestige and social advancement it may bring the buyer, while mentioning the mechanical attributes of the car as a mere afterthought. This social advancement very often involves attraction of the opposite sex, so the car advertisement may also mention the glamorous women or women that the consumer will attract with the purchase of the fancy car. Advertising has been blamed for a great variety of negative social impacts. One of the major criticisms received by advertising is that it forces people to buy things they don't really need, often by projecting negative emotions such as fear, anxiety or guilt upon the consumer.
Material possessions are at the core of people's perception of status. The more cars you have, the bigger your house TV, etc. the higher you’re standing in the community. Societies always tend to value wealth and power, and for our society, material possessions are a huge symbol of this. Many get caught up in the rat race to always have more, to be more, and find, at the end, they are left unfulfilled. Material possessions are superficial indicators of success, but they can't guarantee happiness. Consumerism has been a historical constant; the significant difference now is the scale upon which we are able to consume, and that consumption is based on want and not on need.
Consumerism might stem from the cultural identity of the United States. We've all heard the maxim "Keeping up with the Jones" and in a capitalist society, consumption is a normative good. Materialism has become the prevalent trend in our society and Americans have a constant, growing fixation on earning more money and owning material goods. Based on that, you would think everyone should be happier today than in the past. Shouldn’t they be? Yet, if you probe deep into our desires toward material possessions; you will find we have come to hold many illusionary beliefs about these possessions. We look upon them as bridges to our idealized lives, helping to increase our happiness, to improve our satisfaction of life, to increase our self-esteem, to boost our confidence, to make us feel more worthy. We see material goods as tools that will help us improve our quality and experience of life. It seems our problems will no longer be around or will be reduced considerably if we are to have these material possessions. Material possessions have evolved into our holy grail and represent symbols of hope, happiness and joy. However, these symbols are no more than just artificial creations by people.
People are bombarded everyday with millions of advertisements, endorsements, and product suggestions. All of these efforts attempt to convince the individual to buy a particular product because it will bring some satisfaction to their life. But buying products is not the solution and only adds to feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. You cannot measure your true worth by what you own because possessions do not convey your true self. The only true way to measure your own self-worth is by looking deep into your soul and finding out what kind of person you are beyond the car you drive or the clothes you wear.
Our particular society does label some types of conformity as abnormal in order to reinforce the cultural values and norms associated with personal freedom, independence, and being unique. Examples of the negative results of conforming include cult mass suicides, peer pressure drinking among young people, and group silence within families with dysfunction. Whether or not conformity is viewed as negative or positive is dependent on the culture is which it takes place. What cannot be argued is that conformity is effective and pervasive (Kim & Markus, 1999).
People who don't care what others think of them are usually scorned upon, most likely because it's harder to control someone when they could care less if you hate them or love them because of how they look, talk, dance, what music they listen to, etc. If you like tattoos and piercings, dye your hair black, love rock/punk/emo music. This would make you not "normal". Wouldn’t it be easier to conform if someone could give a definition of this "normal", this basis of conformity. In the world, "normal" is just a compiled list of one's prejudices. For example, some people consider the normal blonde white female to be a cheerleader, an idiot, and a slut. That is what "normal" is perceived to be for this type of individual.
When you don't live up to these "norms" of our conformity-loving society, you are scorned. Self-expression and individuality is something our country, for the most part, and a large part of our government, wish to quash. When everyone is the same, things are so much easier. Those who conform are easier to understand, to have power over, and to predict. Anyone different is feared because they do not know how to react to someone they do not understand. As a society we value conformity because it is easy.

References

Bond, R., & Smith, P. B. (1996). Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch's (1952b, 1956) line judgment task. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 111-137.

Brewer, M. B., & Caporael, L. R. (1990). Selfish genes vs. selfish people: Sociobiology as origin myth. Motivation and Emotion, 14, 237-243.

Henslin., J. M. (2010). Chapter 10. In Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach (Tenth Edition ed., Social Calss in the United States). Retrieved from http://content.learntoday.info/G142_Fall_10/site/Media/book/ Sociology_Ch10.pdf

Kim, H., & Markus, H. R. (1999, March 30). PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES. In Deviance or Uniqueness, Harmony or Conformity? A Cultural Analysis. Retrieved May 23, 2012, from San Jose University website: http://www.sjsu.edu/people/sharon.glazer/courses/psyc190sp09/ s1/Kim_and_Markus_1999_article.pdf

Rashotte, L. (2006, October 1). Social Influence. Retrieved May 8, 2012, from Blackwell Publishing website: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/sociology/docs/BEOS_S1413.pdf

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

How Does Hurston Create Corruption In The Great Gatsby

...The early twentieth century consisted with the duality between prosperity and corruption. In response to this veiled reality of the nation, some people sought to disillusion society from conforming with the problematic status quo, two of which were famous writers Zora Neale Hurston and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The two had their own respective grievances about the nation, but both used their writings to bring awareness about the follies of society. Hurston and Fitzgerald challenge the preconceived status quo of a perfect and progressive American society—set with values such as separate but equal, social classes, consumer culture, and so on—through their respective essay and novel, the former dealing with the erasure of African American culture due...

Words: 1156 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

The Beatles

...Understanding the Influence of The Beatles on American Culture To say that The Beatles have had a significant influence on shaping their generation as well as generations to come is an understatement. The combination of their lyrics, vocals and instrumentals were like nothing the world had heard. Sure, there were risk takers like Elvis that daringly shook his hips and made young girls swoon, but even his abrupt promiscuity didn't have the same effect as the phenomenon of Beatlemania. The Beatles were more than their music. They influenced the lives of millions of people unlike any musicians before them. They were the first and most popular band in one of the most important music movements in American history, the British Invasion. The year 1964 was the year both the British Invasion and “Beatlemania” came to America and forever changed the landscape of music in the United States by introducing the genre of pop, as it is today. The Beatles changed the rules of music. Many things that are considered normal now were pioneered by the Beatles such as: creating compilation albums, expressing their views on world happenings through the media, musicians in movies, and even mass media advertising. The Beatles influenced American culture more than any other musical artist in history (Jacobs, 2004). Prior to the Beatles’ arrival to the United States in 1964, American society was in a valley of negativity. Tragic and unbelievable events were happening almost in a......

Words: 2730 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

Amish Culture

...with the disobedient members of the community. There are communion services held twice a year. It is similar to a Catholic mass, but there are some differences. During the services, hymns are sung and led by a single voice, which is then joined by the community. While the hymns are sung, the ministers meet for prayer to arrange the homily. Following the hymns, there is a introductory homily. Then, the community prays together by kneeling. During prayer, it is usually silent. After prayer, there is a reading from the Bible, and the congregation will stand. Following the bible reading, the preacher gives the main homily. Other ministers give statements after the bible reading. The preacher closes, and everybody turns and kneels for a prayer from Die Ernsthafte Christenpflicht. Then there is a blessing, announcements, and a closing song. The congregation dismisses in age order, where the youngest leave first. Large groups gather in one’s house to worship. Households take turns in hosting the worship. There is a preaching service that takes up to three hours every Sunday morning. Following the preaching service, there is a shared meal among the Amish. Sometimes young people on Sunday evenings gather in a house, sit on opposite sides of a long table to sing hymns and talk. Many Amish are separated from the modern world and refrain from conforming to society because it is stated the New Testament. It says “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed”......

Words: 1320 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Master Plan

...growth 22% per annum Operating margin growth from 58.8% to 67.9% RevPAR 32% higher than US Com ang 27% higher than European players Management structure and team Structure:- General manager is overall responsible for single property, variable portion 30% of base salary Profit 50% weightage Service quality:- 25 % wt People measures: - 25 % wt Regional management is Key component Italian in Italy, French in France No bragging, no excuse NO excuse tolerance, customer services prevalent at all levels Strong Allegiance to the firm:- Family culture, firm’s interest at the top Four season approach to international growth:- Diversity and Singularity:- With essence of local culture standardize operating procedure across the globe. Tailor made interiors to give local flavor with standardize operation of global standards Cultural cameleon Implementing local learnings globally Globally Uniform standards:- Global “service culture standards” (exhibit 4) 270 core operating standards (exhibit 5) applicable world wide Exception permitted if they make local sense (exception of leaving coffee pot at france) Minimum expectation Performance evaluation through External and Internal Audit Delivering intelligent, anticipator and enthusiastic services world wide Just for you Intelligent service If employees are empathetic, anticipate guest needs to reduce distance between employee and guest Human resource and golden rule One should treats others as one would wish to......

Words: 1787 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

What Signs of Mod Culture Illustrate a Dominance of Masculine and European Influence Seen Through the Creative Mediums of Photography, Music and Fashion?

...WHAT SIGNS OF MOD CULTURE ILLUSTRATE A DOMINANCE OF MASCULINE AND EUROPEAN INFLUENCE SEEN THROUGH THE CREATIVE MEDIUMS OF PHOTOGRAPHY, MUSIC AND FASHION? Danny Lowe A Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the degree BA (Hons) Fashion Photography London College of Fashion University of the Arts London Date: 15th April 2012 i Declaration I, Danny Lowe, certify that this is an original piece of work. I have acknowledged all sources and citation. No section of this literature review has been plagiarised. Signed: ….......................................................................................................................... ii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract List of Illustrations Introduction Methodology Literature Review Chapter 1: Chapter 2: Chapter 3: Historical and Cultural Contexts – Defining the 'Mod' and Youth Cultures in Post WWII Britain Americanisation – Music, Motives and Movement The Signs of Style iv v vi ix xi xi xvii xxi xxii xxiv xxvi xxviii xxix xxxii Interpretative Analysis Photography: Music: Fashion Conclusion Bibliography Appendix iii Abstract The purpose of this research study is to identify the signs of masculinity and European influence that dominated aspects of 'Modernist', or Mod, culture and lifestyle. The Mod is a British subculture which developed in the 1960's. The first stage of this study involves introducing the subcultural theories attributed to the......

Words: 8441 - Pages: 34

Premium Essay

Sociology

...theory’ (also known as social strain theory) using practical examples and case studies. Neil Joseph Smelser, was born on 22nd July, 1930, in Kahoka, Missouri. He is an active emeritus professor of sociology at the University of California. He graduated from Harvard in 1952 with a degree and later got his Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard in 1958. Collective behaviour is a type of social behaviour that occurs in crowds or masses. Examples of collective behaviour include, Riots, mobs, mass hysteria, fads, fashions, rumour, and public opinion. It is argued that people tend to surrender their individuality and moral judgment in crowds and give in to the hypnotic powers of leaders who shape crowd behaviour as they like. Collective behaviour can also be defined as social processes and events which do not reflect existing social structure (laws, conventions, and institutions), but which emerge in a spontaneous way (Goode, 1992). Collective behaviour may also be defined as actions which are neither conforming (in which actors follow prevailing norms) nor deviant in which actors violate those norms. Collective behaviour, a third form of action, takes place when norms are absent or unclear, or when they contradict each other. Scholars have pated far less attention to collective behaviour than they have to either conformity or deviance. More specifically, collective behaviour refers to relatively spontaneous and relatively unstructured behaviours by a large number of individuals acting......

Words: 2495 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Final Exam

...ETH/125 Final Exam – Multiple Choice Name: _Katrina Winters___________________________ Please note: There are 56 questions. Each question is worth 2.5 points. 1. Which term is used to describe a group that is set apart from others primarily because of its national origin or distinctive cultural patterns? a. social group b. ethnic group c. racial group d. formal group 2. Members of a minority or subordinate group a. share physical or cultural characteristics that distinguish them from the dominant group. b. have less power over their lives than do members of a majority. c. acquire membership by being born into that group. d. all of these apply 3. Secession is a. the physical separation of groups of people. b. the withdrawal of a group of people from a dominant group to establish a new nation. c. the withdrawal of a subordinate group from one neighborhood to another. d. none of these 4. Which term is used by sociologists to describe a group that is set apart from others because of obvious physical differences? a. social group b. ethnic group c. racial group d. formal group 5. Which term is used to refer to a subordinate group whose members have significantly less control or power over their own lives than the members of a dominant group have over theirs? a. minority group b. majority group c. stratified group d. social group 6. Which of the following is......

Words: 1961 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Mr Jack Coulbeck

...This article was downloaded by: [Aberystwyth University] On: 12 October 2013, At: 02:24 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Marketing Management Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rjmm20 The Sociology of Consumption: The Hidden Facet of Marketing Hélène Cherrier & Jeff B. Murray Published online: 01 Feb 2010. To cite this article: Hélène Cherrier & Jeff B. Murray (2004) The Sociology of Consumption: The Hidden Facet of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, 20:5-6, 509-525, DOI: 10.1362/0267257041323954 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/0267257041323954 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be......

Words: 7423 - Pages: 30

Premium Essay

How Obesity Lower Self-Esteem of Filipino Women

...Introduction The modern lifestyle of Filipinos suggests that we are slowly inclining to less physical activity and unhealthy eating. Surveys found that we are more into consumption of convenience and fast food. If you were to observe, our eating is patterned to consuming and patronizing food that are processed which are heavy in fat, salt, preservatives and other additives. This habit exposes us to different diseases, most particularly to obesity. The number of cases of obesity in the Philippines is continuously increasing. This has been proven by a research conducted in 2013 by the Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity Incorporated. According to them, three out of ten Filipinos are suffering from obesity. Moreover, Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology has supported these findings and claimed that it is a “growing epidemic”. The results also show that there are more cases of female obesity than male. Obesity is commonly associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and mortality. (Corbin & Welk, 1970) For women, obesity implies more risk in developing complications due to maternity. Before, it was only a term for the condition of a person who suffered from exposure to unhealthy living that created excess weight. (Fahey, Insel & Roth, 2011) An article in the Journal of Obesity revealed that many obese people suffer from depression and low self-appreciation. In the study, it was......

Words: 3065 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

Marketing Study Guide

...MARK 3000 • Chapter 1 o LO 1- What is marketing? ▪ A set of activities • Using the four P’s to deliver value and benefits to a targeted group of customers (target market) ▪ A company philosophy (the marketing concept/orientation) • The objective of the company is to (1) satisfy consumer wants, and (2) meet organizational objectives. • What does the consumer want? ▪ The four P’s • Product (what are we making?) o Can be a… ▪ Physical good ▪ Service ▪ Idea • Price (how much are we charging?) o Monetary, barter, etc. • Place o Where is the product available? o How do we get the product where it needs to be? • Promotion (how is the product communicated?) o TV, internet, free samples, newspaper, etc. ▪ Exchange • Exchange is a desired outcome of marketing. • Five conditions of exchange o At least two parties o Each has something of value to the other o Each is capable of communication and delivery o Each is free to accept or reject the offer o Each feels it appropriate or desirable to deal with the other • Marketing can occur even if exchange doesn’t o LO 2- Marketing management philosophies ▪ Other orientations • Production o Focuses on the internal capabilities of the firm rather than on the desires and needs of the marketplace. o As long as it......

Words: 2916 - Pages: 12

Premium Essay

Deviance

...Locality / Region In simple terms, we need to look at the various explanations of crime and deviance that have been produced by sociologists over the past 100 or so years. The concept of power is a very significant one in relation to the way social rules are created and applied and, for this reason, we need to examine this concept as a means of understanding the nature of social conformity and deviance. A significant aspect of (deviant) behaviour is the reaction of others to that behaviour and, in this respect, we will be particularly concerned with an examination of the role of the mass media in the process of Deviancy Amplification. The concern here will be to outline the role of "official" agencies of social control in our society. Over the past 20 - 30 years a number of "deviant sub-cultures" (Mods, Hippies, Punks and so forth) have surfaced in both our own and other cultures and the concern here will be to both examine the nature and purpose of such subcultural groupings and their relationship to deviant behaviour in general. www.sociology.org.uk Sociology Central...

Words: 5233 - Pages: 21

Premium Essay

The Sexual Identity of Gay Asian Men

...Engendering the Subaltern Subject: The Sexual Identity of Gay Asian Men We live in a world wherein we are controlled by our society. Society dictates what can and cannot be done, what is right and wrong, what is to be accepted and what is to be shunned. In our world today, we feel the need to conform to the norm, to feel as though we somehow belong, that we are a part of something bigger – that we belong to a community. In our world today, we are also encouraged to set ourselves apart from everyone else, to be our unique; our own person, but being different is something that is not generally accepted, the very notion that society brings forth, that we need to be our own person, society also contradicts because you can only be so different – it is as if there is a certain level of difference that can be tolerated, and anything beyond that comfort zone is deemed to be wrong. Today, it has become evident that more people have gathered the courage to defy society’s comfort zones and rise above them. Now, we see an increasing number of homosexuals that are becoming more open about their sexuality, but the question there is, are they coming out of the closet explicitly? Or is it simply an implied action? In the Philippines, we have local scenes that vividly showcase homosexual pride. We see this through the pubs that welcome gay acts to perform every now and then, the parlors whose staff consists primarily of gay stylists, even through the media we see how homosexuality is......

Words: 4578 - Pages: 19

Premium Essay

The Relationship of Southern Jews to Blacks and the Civil Rights Movement

...Clark Farley AMST 486: Shalom Y’all Dr. Marcie Cohen Ferris 08 December, 2010 The Relationship of Southern Jews to Blacks and the Civil Rights Movement Since the 1960’s historians and many other scholars have tried to delve into the relationship of blacks and Jews. The experiences of blacks and Jewish people have common histories of dispersion, bondage, persecution, and emancipation. Their relationship can be primarily recognized since the formation of the NAACP in 1909. During the civil rights movement, this organization played a key role in the black-Jewish alliance. However, many scholars have argued if there ever was an alliance between the two, and if so, what might have caused this alliance to break? We may generalize that today’s relationship between the two groups is a relationship in which Jews are superior in regards to social position. In my research I analyzed the works of several scholars to seek the involvement of southern Jews with blacks and the Civil Rights movement. In his 1973 publication of The Provincials, Eli Evans argues that the South is one of the least anti-Semitic regions in the Nation. Among their gentile neighbors, Jews had been accepted as white members of Southern society during the civil rights movement. At this time Jews barely made up one percent of the South's population. Even though a large portion of white civil rights activists were Jewish, the percentage of Jews in the South that took part in the civil rights......

Words: 2899 - Pages: 12

Premium Essay

Sociology

...definitions of three of Sociology’s theoretical approaches to Sociology and they all differ in their own ways. We will start with the Structural-function theory, and it says that is sees society complex system of moving parts that work together to make society stable and solid. This approach to sociology has been applied to everything from culture to sexuality. When applied to culture this approach makes values the core culture; this basically meaning that cultural values are what direct our lives, give meaning to what we do, and bind people together. “Consider Amish farmers in central Ohio plowing hundreds of acres of land with a team of horses. His methods may violate the cultural values of efficiency, but from the Amish point of view, hard work functions to develop the discipline necessary for a devoutly religious way of life.”(Pg 54) This differs from the way Social-conflict theory approaches culture. This theory brings attention to the link between culture and inequality. From this point of view a cultural trait may help some members of society but at the expense of others. Social-conflict theory is also derived, in terms of culture, from materialism where as Structural-function theory is derived from idealism. The biggest difference between these two theories is that while Structural-function wants us all to work together to make society work Social-conflict wants to generate conflict, like the inequality of our...

Words: 5694 - Pages: 23

Premium Essay

Consumption and the Beat Generation

...[pic][pic] [pic]Copyright © 2005 West Chester University. All rights reserved. College Literature 32.2 (2005) 103-126 [pic] |  |[pic][pic][pic] |  | | |[pic] | | | |[pic] | | | |[pic] | | | |[pic] | | | |[pic] | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |Access provided by Northwestern University Library ...

Words: 36700 - Pages: 147