Conformity and minority influence

In the AQA A AS Complete Companion we have subdivided conformity into majority and minority influence. There was a reason for this – when the new specification was first published minority influence was a named topic so we wrote material on it. However, in a very late revision, minority influence was removed from the specification. However we (as well as other textbooks) left it in because it is an important part of the social change topic – social change is due to minority rather than majority influence.

It is arguable as to whether ‘conformity’ refers only to majority influence or can include minority influence – for example, the Scottish higher exam talks about conformity to majority and minority influence. We elected to include minority influence under the heading ‘conformity’. However, AQA’s ruling is that conformity is solely concerned with majority influence. This means that, in the exam, students will get no marks for material or research studies on minority influence in a question on conformity.

However material on minority influence can be made creditworthy when asked about the implications of social influence research for social change, so it remains an important topic of study.

Thanks to Emma Marsh for raising this issue.