A previously unknown 3-page passage, cut from "A Wrinkle in Time", has been found by Madeline L'Engle's granddaughter, and published by the Wall Street Journal. It provides strong insight into the political thought regarding conformity and security in the book.
“I’ve come to the conclusion,” Mr. Murry said slowly, "that it’s the greatest evil there is. Suppose your great great grandmother, and all those like her, had worried about security? They’d never have gone across the land in flimsy covered wagons. Our country has been greatest when it has been most insecure. This sick longing for security is a dangerous thing, Meg, as insidious as the strontium 90 from our nuclear explosions . . .”
"I'm not sure whether it mattered. One young man very kindly said to me, 'You don’t understand, women are holier than men.' I said, 'That’s rubbish and it doesn't excuse the insult,' and then I added that I spent 13 years in yeshiva and there's nothing he could tell me that I haven't already heard. Then the original man, the one who refused to sit next to me, muttered to another man as he was walking away, 'She doesn't understand.' I said, 'I understand everything, and don't talk to me as if I'm not here.' He ignored me, and all the other men turned their backs and did not respond or even look at me." [Similar version at JewFem blog.]
Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo's Studies Really Show [FULL TEXT] [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
What leads cultural tastes and practices to be abandoned? (.pdf) A new PNAS paper by marketing professor Jonah Berger and organizational psychologist Gael Le Mens argues that the faster a trend rises, the faster it's likely to fall, at least as regards longitudinal data of first names given to American children. (Via the Baby Names Blog.) Berger has written before on the drive to non-conform; a 2007 joint paper with Emily Pronin and Sarah Molouki (.pdf) shows that "people see others as more conforming than themselves.... placing more weight on introspective evidence of conformity (relative to behavioral evidence) when judging their own susceptibility to social influence as opposed to someone else's."
Studying obedience and conformity: The Stanford Prison Experiment has been discussed many times before (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and has been made into a number of movies. Now you can watch the incredible review film made by the experimenter, with extensive documentary footage, post-experiment interviews and commentary: The Stanford Prison Experiment. [google video, 50 mins]
Leaving the left. "I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion." Keith Thompson
The Law of Jante (Janteloven) was codified by the Danish-born novelist Aksel Sandemose while he was living in Norway. The Law comprises ten 'commandments', and describes an unspoken code of conformity that Sandemose felt as a stifling inhibitive influence in the town where he grew up. Later commentators have used the term more generally to refer to the anti-individualist tendencies that have traditionally pervaded Scandinavian culture, and to denote 'the dark side of egalitarianism'. Of course, the Law needn't be interpreted in such a negative light, and egalitarianism has its good side too, the difficult question being: do the benefits of equality make it worthwhile suffering the strictures of Janteloven?
As one, the students shouted, "Strength through discipline!" - "The Third Wave", A Dangerous Experiment. More disturbing even than the "Milgram Experiment": "When Ron Jones started teaching at Cubberley High School in the fall of 1968, it was considered the most innovative of Palo Alto's high schools. ....His methods were experimental and his goal was to bring social studies to life.....Jones turned his class into an efficient youth organization, which he called the Third Wave. Some students were informers, and some were told they couldn't go certain places on campus. He insisted on rigid posture and that questions be answered formally and quickly....."It was strange how quickly the students took to a uniform code of behavior. I began to wonder just how far they cold be pushed," Jones wrote....But soon the experiment began spinning out of control.... five days into the experiment, Jones announced, "We can bring (the nation) a new sense of order, community, pride, and action. Everything rests on you and your willingness to take a stand." As one, the students shouted, "Strength through discipline!" ". Ron Jones wrote about it in No substitute for Madness, which is out of print in English but required reading in German public schools. As Umberto Eco notes in "Eternal Fascism", this is a timeless tale of human nature.
Conformity rules in cyberspace... countering expectations that near-anonymity would encourage actions outside social norms. An Australian research team entered chat rooms and staged situations (a somewhat skeptically viewed practice, though the article doesn't mention it). Now they're studying users' reactions to avatars of different races and genders -- and for control purposes, a chair: Initial results show that most people approach the female character first and that some of those approaching the chair ask for a sex specification or assume it is female.