Authority and Conformity Essay

Cheap Custom Writing Service

This Authority and Conformity Essay example is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic, please use our writing services. offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.

A common phenomenon in social groups (some would say a requirement) is the existence of authority: the right or power to give orders and enforce standards. Authority is only meaningful if people comply with those rules and orders. Conformity, compliance with orders and standards, is the corollary to authority.

Macro-level perspectives tend to focus on authority. Because authority is a characteristic of a position in society it can be thought of as a structural component, although cultural transmission passes on the meanings that go with a position of authority. Max Weber’s discussion of the types of legitimate authority is a classic example. Recent studies in this area examine the economic authority of multinational corporations, the political authority of state actors, the effects of religious authority on mass movements, as well as the conflicts created when these forms of authority meet head-on in the process of globalization.

Micro-level perspectives tend to focus on conformity, seeking to explain why people comply with the orders of authority or the standards of the group. Experiments by Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo demonstrated the ease with which a person could be induced into making choices that person knew to be false or unethical. The ”Utrecht studies” replicated these classic findings and helped identify the conditions that produce resistance to conformity. Studies in social influence take a more generalized approach to conformity by applying general theories of behavior like social identity theory. Conformity to group standards is viewed in this perspective as one outcome of group membership. Identity theories provide an individual-level theoretical mechanism for conforming behavior, namely the motivation to have one’s environmental inputs align with one’s definitions of self. People conform because to do otherwise is to invite a heightened level of psychological discomfort as a person becomes aware that they are not acting on their self-meanings.


  1. Blass, T. (ed.) (2000) Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on   the   Milgram   Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.
  2. Meeus, W. H. J. & Raaijmakers, Q A. W. (1995) Obedience in modern society: the Utrecht studies. Journal of Social Issues 51: 155-75.

See also:


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality

Special offer!