Individualization: Institutionalized Individualism and its Social and Political Consequences by Ulrich Beck and Elizabeth Beck-Gernsheim (2002)

tn67About This Book 

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.

`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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Table of Contents


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

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Other Books on the Topic .
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Other Books by the Author 

Other books by this author:

Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity (1992)

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