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Contesting Conformity – Democracy and the Paradox of Political Belonging - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Contesting Conformity: Democracy and the Paradox of Political Belonging

Jennie C. Ikuta


“Be yourself!” “Don’t just follow the crowd!” Such injunctions valorizing nonconformity pervade contemporary American culture. We praise individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Steve Jobs who chart their own course in life and do something new. Yet surprisingly, recent research in social psychology has shown that in practice, Americans are averse to nonconformity. This disjunction between our public rhetoric and practice raises questions: Why is nonconformity valuable? Is it always valuable, or does it pose dangers as well as promise benefits for democratic societies? What is the relati ... More

Keywords: conformity, democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, public opinion, dissent, individuality, creativity

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780190087845
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190087845.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jennie C. Ikuta, author
Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Tulsa