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Individualization

  • By: Roberta Sassatelli
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

Classical sociologists such as Emile Durkheim and Georg Simmel recognized individualization as a feature of Western modernity together with functional differentiation and rationalization. Drawing on their work, individualization is defined as the social surfacing of the individual as a unique intersection of social roles, responsibility, and functions as well as the cultural accentuation of the individual as an independent, separated, and original being. Through the workings of functional differentiation, each social actor comes to occupy a fairly unique social position in the complex web of interdependencies that makes up the social space, while rationalization of the self in the form of reflexive self-monitoring allows for integrative effects. Individuality thus acquires a particular moral value: the individual human being as an autonomous self is thus, Durkheim ...

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