The major positive to conformity would be the fact that people who conform generally do not run the risk of being ostracized by their peers. People who act in "normal" ways tend to be pretty well accepted.
The major negative to conformity is that it can force a person to be someone who they are not. An extreme case of this would be a gay person who is forced to stay in the closet by the need to conform. A person who suppresses a really important part of their self in hopes of conforming can harm themselves psychologically.
So, conformity is really a tradeoff between being accepted by others on the one hand and losing part of your real identity on the other.
It depends on what the person is conforming to. I do think conforming is positive in regards to setting social standards (such as eye contact, shaking hands, dressing "appropriately," respecting ones personal space etc). Thus, a person conforming to these social and cultural norms may be accepted and "fit in" in various social settings. I think we all conform to those particular things without putting much thought into it.
There are some positives to conformity, but since it's an opinion others may not agree. I am fine with schools going to some sort of mild dress code such as cachi (sp?) pants and solid color polo-like shirts. This takes the focus on what kids are wearing which would lessen some teasing problems. Kids that cannot afford clothes that are "in" at the moment often feel inferior. Maybe group cliques would lessen too.
I also hope my kids don't "conform" later in life when "all the children are doing it" such as drugs and sex seems like the norm.
A negative aspect to conformity is that people aren't able to grow as much and show all that they're capable of. When everyone is expected to be the "same" then often many lose a sense of themselves.
I don't know. What are the positives and negatives to thinking for yourself? What are the positives and negatives to generating original ideas for your own essays? What are the positives and negatives to paying attention in class? What are the positives and negatives to not waiting until the last minute to do your homework?