Some thoughts on conformity

Different yet the same....?

All of us conform. This may of course be to a fuller or lesser degree, but the truth of the matter is that we all conform; the clothes we wear, the colloquial expressions we use and the way we act in various situations. As a teenager I hit a rebellious stage. I made a conscious effort not to conform to how I thought society wanted me to be; I wore alternative clothes, gained piercings, shaved parts of my hair, and generally did everything my parents told me not to. Ironically through these actions I was conforming. My friends and I (who were also going through the same phase) dressed in similar ways, listened to the same punk music and yet all of us thought of ourselves as ‘individual and original.’ Each of us was creative and unique in our punky style and yet looked remarkably similar. Our material culture screamed conformity! When I think about the role of creativity, I often look back to this (rather embarrassing) chapter of my life. It demonstrates perfectly that individual creativity is influenced by our environment and our social interactions. Thus originality can only truly be understood within its context. This has ramifications for archaeology. Just as we cannot truly isolate the individual from the collective, we cannot isolate the artefact from its group. Without the group, meaning is lost. Therefore in order to understand creativity and the novel, we need to look at the wider context in which the object existed; nothing is made, said or done in isolation.


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