Generally speaking, conformity within a society is usually associated with pressure of a kind; norms are in place and individuals feel that they must conform to them, or face negative consequences. At the same time, and interestingly, conformity itself is often criticized. It is seen by many as a mindlessness, or ignoring of the responsibility to think in individual ways. The reality is that conformity does in fact offer many advantages to a society.
For example, certain norms go to the well-being of all, as in a social value opposing violence. Aside from the law’s force in addressing violent acts, there is a social foundation universally holding that a violent act is unacceptable, and that doing such harm to others greatly violates the basic ideologies and values of the society. This norm does not exist as pressure exactly, but more as an accepted truth. Consequently, those within the society are aware of it and the majority see the need to conform to this mainstream belief, for the welfare of all.
Conversely, however, conformity may in fact go to mindlessness in a specific and negative way. For example, an individual may live in a region or community in which discrimination is practiced. It may be that the majority of the population here is biased against minorities. In such a setting, then, it is not unusual for someone not of a minority to “go along” with the bias, and because such conformity simply eases how they live and interact with those others enabled to express bias by virtue of greater authority or numbers.
On one level, this kind of conformity is understandable; human nature usually goes to desires to fit in and be in accord with dominant values. On another level, however, conformity of this type very much represents mindlessness and a failure of the individual to accept the responsibility of using their powers of reason, as well as their obligation to respect humanity.. Conformity in society is then, basically, a “double-edged sword.”