Individualism And Conformity In Society

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Individualism and conformity seem to be the exact opposites of each other, but what if being individual meant conforming to the way of everyone else, and what if conformity was the key to being apart of a community? In the essay by Andrea Fishman “Becoming Literate: A Lesson from the Amish” the author looks at the conformity in the Amish culture in regards to education. However, in the essay by Stuart Ewen “Chosen People” Ewen discusses how mainstream America prides itself on individualism. Both essays explore the complexity of being an individual in societies that thrive on conformity. Ewen describes mainstream America as “a society in which mass-produced, stylized goods were functioning as an intricate system of personal certification, an “identity kit” (Ewen 195). In other words, mainstream America has a tendency to focus on the class and status of a person rather than their personality and how they treat others. This led to the middle class becoming a group of people who seek out material items to make themselves feel a part of the higher class. They buy mass-produced items to appear as if they are people of higher standing, rather than showing the truth of their status because to them being poor meant being lesser and no one strives to move down in status when they can still move up. However, mainstream America also likes to encourage individualism, but with the majority of people buying things the mass produced items that make them appear to have a high status adds to the idea of conformity and lets people give up their individuality. Meanwhile, Fishman writes about how the education of the Amish children “requires knowing how to interpret the text exactly as everyone else does” (Fishmen 240). In essence, the education o... ... middle of paper ... ...at conformity helps make friends and belong allows for a conformist society to exist. While people who reject conformity lifestyle let the mainstream culture claim that it is more invidicaltic than conformist. All in all, individuality, conformity are contradictory and complex. On one hand, conformity can be good and allows for a community to hold tight to their values, but it also stops people from expressing themselves and thinking critically about subjects. On the other hand, individuality allows for both expression and critical thought, but when class and status are involved it can make people buy things to make themselves appear to be apart of a special group. At the end of the day both the Amish and mainstream America are blanketed in ideas of conformity and of reaching a place where they will be respected and where they will feel more valued and important.
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