Why does society pressure us to conform to it?*

*This post is based on my answer in Quora.com at https://www.quora.com/Why-does-society-pressure-us-to-conform-to-it/answer/Ven-Ballano.

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Society must achieve its goals and development plans, articulated in terms of norms, for the promotion of the common good of all its citizens. Thus it pressures people to conform to its social expectations and norms.

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Society has formal and informal norms. The informal norms consist of customs, traditions, or folkways, while the formal norms consist of laws, the state’s official and written social norms. Norms serve important social functions in society. They guarantee social order and integration of people as well as serve as deterrence against crimes and other forms of deviance. All societies, whether primitive or state society, have norms which pressure inhabitants to conform , otherwise they face sanction and punishment by the state’s judicial system.

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Society must have some forms of coercion and pressure to force people to obey the norms and preserve social order, otherwise it would gradually disintegrate due to anarchy and crimes groups.

One must take note that society’s norms or laws by themselves do not necessarily force people to conform. For the German sociologist Max Weber, there is no law without a specialized staff or group of law enforcers who would implement the letter of the law.

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What pressures people to conform to society’s norms lies in the law enforcement system, in the psychological coercion to people’s minds that any criminal or violator who break the law will surely be punished by an efficient police force or group of enforcers.

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Every society has certain long-term and short-term goals as articulated by the government which must be obeyed by people. The goals are legislated into laws by the legislature. These goals must be achieved by the state for the attainment and protection of the common good. That’s why urban democratic society are “ruled by laws, not be men (or women).”

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Democratic and republican societies usually invoked the police power of the state to pressure its citizens to conform to state laws. This is an inherent power of the state that can overrule individual human rights in the name of social welfare, public order, public health, and the common good.

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