From a young age, we're trained to be individuals defined by what we bring into our area of influence and control, and that we should associate with those of our own 'class' or group. Schools, churches, zoned and income-based neighborhoods, and to an extent, the even more primally-based family organization give us to understand ourselves as part of divided and homogenized groups.
This makes it even more difficult to expand our minds past preconceptions and into understanding of ourselves as summed constructs and consciousness capable of new input and outlooks. Stasis of the mind as a result of group-based thinking is a comfortable place; affirmation of belief and action is all around us and as close as another member of the group, usually someone very close geographically and quite used to similar input, both environmental and internal.
Though the group affords affirmation at a level numerically far above that of an individual, the most isolate unit of our society, the effect is ultimately to isolate each group form another based on the ideals and concepts mentioned before. The difficulty of getting groups to cooperate and change based on new information and input is as difficult or more than getting an individual to understand the importance of close examination of ideas and ideals.
Thus, the society proceeds along a course set previously; either on a course of its own or manipulated by entities or individuals capable of mass communication and possessed of an understanding of these simple principals.
It's not easy to be self-determined and consciously autonomous; it's not to my mind and perspective even very simple to break down and examine. Nevertheless, I see it as about the only way we're ever going to make it out of the benighted social order we find ourselves bound by in most quarters of the world. I can only realistically hope that I can figure out my own silly self before going too far into the hole to dig myself out.