Journal Article — A Futile Struggle? Power and Conformity in High School and the Society at Large — by Eric Reed

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George Simmel describes small groups as being “closely coherent,” allowing “its individual members only a narrow field for the development of unique qualities and free self-responsible movements” (Simmel 2004:133). Throughout my experience in high school I witnessed this first hand, struggling with a need for acceptance, and being swept into conformity.

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Abstract

George Simmel describes small groups as being “closely coherent,” allowing “its individual members only a narrow field for the development of unique qualities and free self-responsible movements” (Simmel 2004:133). Throughout my experience in high school I witnessed this first hand, struggling with a need for acceptance, and being swept into conformity. What I have come to realize is that this drive acts as a sort of competition. In this competition a social ladder develops that is vague, but still significantly shapes the lives of the members of the group. It shaped my attitude toward other members of the group as well as myself, in turn influencing much of my actions. Moral judgments in turn were replaced by group-determined rules of what is acceptable, or “cool.” I in turn explain how similar patterns possibly form in class-based stratifications, influencing the identity and attitudes taken among individuals of the lower, middle, and upper classes, where morality and trust may be set aside in order to promote one’s status.

Recommended Citation

Reed, Eric. 2008. “A Futile Struggle? Power and Conformity in High School and the Society at Large.” Pp. 179-188 in Sociological Imaginations from the Classroom: Plus A Symposium on the Sociology of Science Perspectives on the Malfunctions of Science and Peer Reviewing (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VI, Issue 2, 2008.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

The various editions of Sociological Imaginations from the Classroom: Plus A Symposium on the Sociology of Science Perspectives on the Malfunctions of Science and Peer Reviewing can be ordered from the Okcir Store and are also available for ordering from all major online bookstores worldwide (such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and others).


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