Study Cards on individualism, social, capitalism
People used to be seen as members of the social groups to which they belonged: family, village etc. Their lives and identities were largely determined by the character of these groups.
Rise of individualism is largely seen as a consequence of the establishment of industrial capitalism as the dominant mode of social organization.
Industrial capitalism --> more choices and social possibilities. Started acting in accordance with their own interests.
--> Rise of eonomic individualism
- Shift in favour of neoliberal economics.
Individualism encouraged people to define themselves increasingly in terms of what and how much they own.
Emphasis on production tends to foster social solidarity (highlights what people have in common), while consumerism encourages to think and act more in individual terms, seeing consumption as a form of self-expression.
- Weakening of social codes and norms had resulted in the spread of anomie (weakening of values and normative rules, associated with feelings of loneliness, isolation and meaninglessness). --> more suicides.
- Growth of egoism and atomism led to weakening of social duty and moral responsibility.
- Loss of sense of importance of the public good.
If humans are thought of as individuals, they must be entitled to the same rights and respect.
- Link between individualism and the expansion of choice and opportunity has been highlighted by spread of social reflexivity (tendency to reflect, implying higher levels of self-awareness, self-knowledge). Because of:
> mass education and intensified cultural flows between societies.
Dangers: strengthening of consumerism and materialist ethics.
This has led to to a debate about the viability of so-called Asian values as an alternative to the individualism of Western, liberal societies.
+ there is a also evidence of resurgence of 'thick' social connectedness: through the rise of identity politics and growing importance of ethnicity, gender, and religion.
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