The Culture of Conformism

Understanding Social Consent

The Culture of Conformism

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: 2 figures Published: April 2001

Politics > Political Theory, Sociology > Social Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Psychoanalytic Theory

“[Hogan’s] goal is not merely to explain but to provide tools of understanding that will be of practical value to those who struggle for justice and freedom. Drawing from an impressive array of sources, his valuable study advances both ends considerably, no mean accomplishment.”—Noam Chomsky

In this wide-ranging and informative work, Patrick Colm Hogan draws on cognitive science, psychoanalysis, and social psychology to explore the cultural and psychological components of social consent. Focusing in particular on Americans’ acquiescence to a system that underpays and underrepresents the vast majority of the population, Hogan moves beyond typical studies of this phenomenon by stressing more than its political and economic dimensions.
With new insights into particularly insideous forms of consent such as those manifest in racism, sexism, and homophobia, The Culture of Conformism considers the role of emotion as it works in conjunction with belief and with the formation of group identity. Arguing that coercion is far more pervasive in democratic societies than is commonly recognized, Hogan discusses the subtle ways in which economic and social pressures operate to complement the more obviously violent forces of the police and military. Addressing issues of narcissism, self-esteem, and empathy, he also explains the concept of “rational” conformity—that is, the degree to which our social consent is based on self-interest—and explores the cognitive factors that produce and sustain social ideology.
Social activists, economic theorists, social psychologists, and political scientists will be intrigued and informed by this book.


"The Culture of Conformism engages in a very risky endeavor; the attempt to critically analyze the operation of culture through the lens of biological science. . . . Hogan achieves this remarkable end primarily through his insistent positioning of The Culture of Conformism as a radical intervention in political theory. . . . In providing an intellectual arsenal with which to combat the culture of conformism, Hogan has made an important contribution to political theory as well as set an example for scholars attempting to bridge the physical and social sciences." — Andrew Reynolds , Politics and Culture

"[A] remarkably lucid introduction. . . . Hogan is good at providing clear explanations of the various conceptual and psychological mechanisms that secure conformity." — John Trumpbour , Socialism and Democracy

"Hogan takes a multilayered approach in his thoughtful, well-dcumented discussions of the wild disparities that exist-and will continue to exist if left unchecked-among different elements of the world's populations. . . . Highly recommended." — , Library Journal

“Given that capitalist society demeans and deprives most of its members, why don’t they revolt? Hogan lays out this problematic with elegant directness and lucidity and provides a complex—yet simply drawn—explanation of consent.” — Richard Ohmann, Wesleyan University

“Reflecting on the principles of government, David Hume was struck by the ‘implicit submission’ of people to the rulers in all societies even though ‘force is always on the side of the governed,’ a surprising outcome that he attributes to control of opinion. Patrick Hogan greatly enriches the Humean concept, unravelling an intricate web of ‘modes of action and thought’ that ensnare the governed in forms of ‘implicit submission,’ contrary to their deeper motives and ideals and long-term interests. His goal is not merely to explain, but to provide tools of understanding that will be of practical value to those who struggle for justice and freedom. Drawing from an impressive array of sources, his valuable study advances both ends considerably, no mean accomplishment.” — Noam Chomsky


Availability: In stock
Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Patrick Colm Hogan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut. His previous books include On Interpretation: Meaning and Inference in Law, Psychoanalysis, and Literature and Colonialism and Cultural Identity: Crises of Tradition in the Anglophone Literatures of India, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction: Social Stratification and the New Conformism

1. Rational Acquiescence: The Police and the Marketplace

2. Belief and Consent

3. Ideology and Emotion

4. Cognitive Structure and the Example of Racism

Afterword: Working Against Injustice
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2716-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2705-9
Publicity material