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Institutionalized Individualism and its Social and Political Consequences

February 2002 | 222 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Individualization argues that we are in the midst of a fundamental change in the nature of society and politics. This change hinges around two processes: globalization and individualization. The book demonstrates that individualization is a structural characteristic of highly differentiated societies, and does not imperil social cohesion, but actually makes it possible. Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim argue that it is vital to distinguish between the neo-liberal idea of the free-market individual and the concept of individualization. The result is the most complete discussion of individualization currently available, showing how individualization relates to basic social rights and also paid employment; and concluding that in as much as basic rights are internalized and everyone wants to or must be economically active, the spiral of individualization destroys the given foundations of social co-existence.

Losing the Traditional
Individualization and 'Precarious Freedoms'

A Life of One's Own in a Runaway World
Individualization, Globalization and Politics

Beyond Status and Class?
The Ambivalent Social Structure
Poverty and Wealth in a 'Self-Driven Culture'

From `Living for Others' to 'A Life of One's Own'
Individualization and Women

On the Way to the Post-Familial Family
From a Community of Need to Elective Affinities

Division of Labour, Self-Imaging and Life Projects
New Conflicts in the Family

Declining Birthrates and the Wish to Have Children
Apparatuses Do Not Care for People
Health and Responsibility in the Age of Genetic Technology
Death of One's Own, Life of One's Own
Hopes from Transience

Freedom's Children
Freedom's Fathers
Zombie Categories
Interview with Ulrich Beck


`Ulrich Beck's Risk Society, and indeed the theory of "reflexive modernization" is characterized by two theses: an environmental thesis and individualization thesis.... In Anglo-Saxon sociology the risk thesis has been enormously influential. The individualization thesis, for its part, has passed virtually ignored. That is the shortcoming that this book Individualization addressess.... In this single volume this thesis receives the exclusive attention of Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim. This book represents the other half of Beck's work. And this half today may be the most important half' - Scott Lash, from the Foreword

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