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Individualism in Individualized Society?

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
For more content, see Comparative Sociology.

There is much discussion about the process of individualization and one of its assumed consequences : individualism. Being individualistic is supposed to be a basic orientation guiding modern people in contemporary affluent societies and regarded inducive to moral decay. However, there is not much empirical evidence to confirm such ideas. It can be concluded that modern society is individualized in the sense that people have become less dependent upon traditional institutions and more free to decide for themselves, but the idea of individualism as a basic and dominant orientation has been challenged. Modern people do not consistently opt for individualistic choices. Individualism appears to be domain specific and above all there appear to be marked cross-national variation in individualism. Such differences seem to reflect differences in historical, economic, cultural and political circumstances.

Affiliations: 1: Work & Organization Research Centre (WORC), Tilburg University, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands


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