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Conformism is a term used to describe the suspension of an individual's self-determined actions or opinions in favor of obedience to the mandates or conventions of one's peer-group, or deference to the imposed norms of a supervening authority.
One manifestation of conformism emerges in the practice of "going along and getting along" with people who appear to be more powerful. Conformism holds that individuals and small groups do best by blending in with their surroundings and by doing nothing eccentric or out-of-the-ordinary in any way.
By definition, conformism presents the antithesis both of creativity and of innovative leadership, and hence opposes change and/or progress itself. Spiritual thinkers, such as the Islamist Dr. Hasan Askari, suggest that individuals should counter conformism by "waking up from the spell which our collective identity, whether it be of race or of religion, has cast upon us."
Authoritarian institutions (such as military organizations and organized religions) tend to glorify and reinforce conformism within their ranks, as do many large corporations. Their influence has both subconscious and overt aspects. Typically, those calling for conformism and for obedience to authority couch their demands in conservative terms to give the impression that they aim at the preservation of the status quo - which (critics often say) can mask power-grabs and the exercise of self-interest.
One view of innovation stresses the importance of outward or grand-scale conformism. Since open and extreme rebels get incarcerated, effective change - according to this theory - may require minor, incremental acts of a non-conforming nature.
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