Conformity and Alienation Notes

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Inquiry Question: When do Alienation and Conformity promote positive social change and negative social change?

Conformity – Positive & Negative Points

- When you stopping at a red light, you are conforming to the law and to the general agreement that for the good and safety of society, a red light means stop. You stop, even though most of the time there is not a police officer on the scene to enforce the law.

- The biggest positive of conformity is acceptance. When you conform, people will be more willing to accept you because you are falling in line with what they expect of you. The negatives are that you give up your individuality and may have to compromise your principles.

- Conforming is positive in regards to setting social standards (such as eye contact, shaking hands, dressing "appropriately," respecting ones personal space etc). Thus, a person conforming to these social and cultural norms may be accepted and "fit in" in various social settings. I think we all conform to those particular things without putting much thought into it.

- When working on group projects, keeping the students in groups of four or more will promote conformity rather than individuality. The larger a group, the more likely individuals are to conform to the others.

- Adolescents often encourage friends to do or try things that they themselves are doing in order to fit into to a group. The encouragement can be positive (studying hard to get good grades) or negative (drinking beer after the football game).

- The major negative to conformity is that it can force a person to be someone who they are not.  An extreme case of this would be a gay person who is forced to stay in the closet by the need to conform.  A person who suppresses a really important part of their self in hopes of conforming can harm themselves psychologically.

There are some positives to conformity, but since it's an opinion others may not agree.  I am fine with schools going to some sort of mild dress code such as khaki pants and solid color polo-like shirts.  This takes the focus on what kids are wearing which would lessen some teasing problems.  Kids that cannot afford clothes that are "in" at the moment often feel inferior. A negative aspect to conformity is that people aren't able to grow as much and show all that they're capable of.  When everyone is expected to be the "same" then often many lose a sense of themselves.

Alienation – Positive & Negative Points

- Usually people alienate others because they don't comply with something they believe in, or they don't behave a certain way. Most likely just someone to blame everything on but ultimately it comes down to not being able to control people. 

- Usually unfounded like: racism, sexism, and the oldest story in the book, religion. It can also be pleasing for someone to see another in an alienating situation.

- Parental Alienation: term which is used to describe the process by which one parent, who is typically divorced or separated from the other biological parent, uses their influence to make a child believe that the other estranged parent is bad, evil or worthless. Example:

Verbal criticism of the other parent - derogatory comments, telling stories about the other parent, portraying their bad side, picking up on their faults, highlighting their mistakes, drawing unfavorable comparisons between them and others.

- Through the process of legal alienation, Aboriginal peoples lost not only their land, but their culture and self-worth. In recent years, Aboriginal peoples have attempted to reduce their social alienation through a variety of de-alienation strategies, including social, political, and legal struggles. One tactic has been land claim litigation. Therefore, through efforts to obtain legal alienation of land, Aboriginal peoples strive to reduce their social alienation and oppression.

A) Alienation = Reject
a) + 1960s Women’s Movement:
Provide examples of how women...
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