Individualisation Thesis and Its Ideas

Subject: Sociology
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 9
Word count: 2488
Topics: Discrimination, Ethics, Freedom, Human Nature
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Individualisation refers to the discrimination or perception of an individual within the group or species and the development of the individual traits. It may also refer to the situation whereby the whole community increasingly adapts to various circumstances, the needs of individuals, and the preferences of the people as it also acknowledges the individual’s rights and further encourages its use. The concept of individualisation can be quite confusing in some degree because of its contradictory nature. The concept is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time as it does feel like real freedom in some instances particularly in the case of women who achieved liberation from patriarchal control. However, when things go south, no individual receives an excuse, with the resultant punishment being harsh and unwelcoming. Individualisation thesis, on the other hand, refers to the assumption developed by Ulrich Beck, who was a German social scientist. The theory highlights that the individual is increasingly becoming the core unit of the social life. Modernization, globalization, and capitalism are some of the major elements linked with individualisation by the theorists behind the concept’s development. The purpose of the paper is to explain about individualisation thesis and its ideas, and further evaluate the thesis using concepts highlighted by theorists Anthony Giddens and Alrich Beck. 

Individualisation thesis and its ideas

The aspect of individualization appears to be an unavoidable component of the future, and a great part of the modern society and modernity. Therefore, individualisation is of great importance to the society, particularly when analysing the specific components of tomorrow. Considering the importance of individualisation as highlighted, it is clear that it will play an important role in the future. However, the main questions of interest include understanding the ways in which individualisation will affect the society in its modern context and the life of the individuals in the contemporary society (Cohen & Kennedy, 2012). Defining the concept in a precise manner can be quite difficult considering the various debates that exist regarding the concept of interest. For example, the debates on individual versus the community, and the freedom of choice versus determinism are some of the common arguments that surround the matter and act as the core issues that determine the main concerns of the aspect. 

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One of the major views on the aspect of individualisation is that it acts as an increased opportunity for individuals to influence their life and make their personal decision. Further, individualisation accords the modern race far more opportunities for choosing his or her life and developing a world that surrounds their perspectives (Warde, 2017). In the past, people followed traditional family, religion, and culture in regards to their thoughts and actions. However, in the contemporary society, people are moving more towards individualisation in that they determine their personal choices and the core elements that would match with how they view the world including what they perceive to be of the most important in life. Besides, the ever-increasing individuality in the contemporary society, the freedom of choice, and responsibility to individual values (Atkinson, 2007). For instance, in the modern society, it is no longer a given fact that one should be a social-democrat like his or her mother, or go for gymnastics like the father, grandfather or the great-grandfather. Further, an individual can make his or her personal decision whether they want to have their operation at the county’s leading hospital or the local hospital, and the type of school that they want to send their children (Warde, 2017). In the modern society, an individual also has the power of selecting his or her fashion, education, choice of work and the type of work that gives him or her most pleasure. 

The main challenging idea concerning the aspect of individualisation is the question on whether people usually make their own choices in regards to the selection they choose, or it is rather the external environment that determines their selection (Skeggs, 2017). However, it is important to note that even though there are a number of instances where people have a choice on what they select and consider appropriate to them, there are also particular incidences whereby such decisions depend on the external environmental factors. 

The aspect of freedom of choice remains to be the main ideas surrounding the concept of individualisation thesis. Even though it is apparent that an individual does not possess the full freedom of choice when it comes to the issue of interest, it is important to note that in various debates concerning the matter, people present individualisation as almost complete freedom of choice, and the presentation of far more options than it would be the case (Skeggs, 2017). However, when considering the idea that it is much easier for a CEO to become a taxi driver than the reverse taking place, it is important to underline that the freedom of choice is quite limited since there are areas that require special abilities to penetrate (Warde, 2017). 

Individualisation thesis does possess some advantages and disadvantages that underline its influential nature in the contemporary society. The main advantage is that there is little to no dispute to changes in the family. Further, it plays a crucial role in the creation of diverse family forms and gives people more choices to determine their own path. Another advantage of individualisation thesis is that it breaks the norm whereby life followed a particular pattern in the society (Sznaider, 2015). Finally, individualisation thesis does not set a specific age for achieving particular goals, which means that people have the freedom of setting their personal goals for achieving particular objectives and are also free from the pressures of the society. In regards to the limitations of individualisation thesis, the major disadvantage of the system is that it is quite uncertain regarding the future since there is no clear outline as to the process that an individual needs to follow. The other disadvantage is that people do not have an as much free choice as highlighted in the thesis. Another disadvantage is that there are still family ties, which means that the individual does not have as much freedom as presented in the thesis (Sznaider, 2015). Further, individualisation thesis is not based on research, which makes its authenticity quite questionable. Therefore, considering both the advantages and the disadvantages, it is quite clear that the advantages of individualisation thesis are still its disadvantages, with family life still being under the influence of traditional values and views. 

Evaluation of the thesis as per the concepts of Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck

Ulrich Beck, the German sociologist, credited with the development of the theory, raised a new topic that questioned the role played by individuals in the social world. She hypothesised that the behaviours of individuals were becoming less bounded to the traditional norms and values, and the sources of collective identities such as the social class and other elements of social stratification. The main argument developed by Beck is that the life of an individual is increasingly reflective of an element that the individual must accomplish by him or herself (Beck, 2002). Thus, the argument presents a clear contrast to the traditional social norms and regulations since it suggests that in the modern society, individuals have the responsibility of developing their own guidelines that would give them the lead towards the realization of their main goals (Savickas, 2012). The other argument presented by Beck is that the individualisation thesis has overtaken the standard biography of life course that people followed in the past through introducing a new perspective of ‘do it yourself’ biography whereby people have to design their own path that would lead them to glory (Beck, 1992). 

The main aspects that Beck (1992) focuses on in regards to the subject of individualisation thesis include the progression of the social norms beyond the traditional myths that were of major focus to the society, the possibilities of women living in a life where they live by themselves rather than simply living for other people, the political impact of globalisation, and the staying power of outmoded stagnant nature of the ideologies of the society (Skeggs, 2017). Concerning the break from the traditional norms of the society, Beck highlights that individualisation encourages people to develop their specific goals that would define their path to success rather than relying on the specific course observed by the society (Beck, 1992). Her view on the issue is basically the aspect that defines the core view on the matter and in the development of the necessary understanding in the realization of the needed view on the matter of interest. In regards to her view that the matter of interest increases the possibility of women living a life designed by them rather than living for others, it is clear to understand why the point is of interest when considering that individualisation allows the women to establish their core needs and value concerning the elements that would help in defining their true value in life. 

The author also connects the aspect of globalisation with individualisation through highlighting that globalisation possesses some necessary elements that can assist in the strengthening of the aspect of individualisation. One of the positive effects of globalisation to individualisation as highlighted by Becks includes the fact that it adds to the lifestyle presented in individualisation since people collect ideas from the world and add them to their lifestyle (Savickas, 2012). Considering the argument made by the author regarding the connection between globalisation and individualisation, there is a clear indication that the idea of individualisation is not fully dependent on one’s unique thoughts since various components of the outside environment and the world as a whole, influences what the people perceive to be right for them. Finally, concerning the aspect of the staying power of outmoded stagnant nature of the ideologies of the society, the author explains that individualisation helps in ensuring that people do not follow the stagnant ideologies of the society that would affect how an individual develops a system that would focus on the realization of his or her desired goals. 

Giddens, on the other hand, focuses on three main elements while presenting his argument regarding the aspect of individualisation. The three main elements described by the author include the fusion of the actions of individuals and the grand social forces into a single approach, impact of late modernity whereby each activity exists as a subject of social reflection, and the constant democratisation of every aspect from big organisations to intimate relations (Giddens, 1991). The author also finds the component of globalisation as an important element for discussion to get a better understanding of the issue. His theory of structuration presents an analysis that social life comprises of many elements rather than random individual acts. However, social forces are the main influential factors of social life (Giddens, 1991). Thus, the theory of structuration as presented by Giddens (1991) highlight that human agency and social structure continually feed into each other and that social structure is reproduced by the repetitive acts of individual people. Therefore, through focusing on the theory highlighted by Giddens, it is clear that the elements that make up the society, particularly the traditional ones, involve the repetitive nature of the activities conducted by the members of the society. 

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The major question that Giddens asks in regards to the understanding of individualisation thesis is the form that an individual takes when the self is ‘made’ rather than inherited (Edwards, McCarthy, & Gillies, 2012). The question asked by the author relates well to the subject of interest in that it helps in understanding the value that an individual receives when he or she outlines guidelines that would help in the establishment of a focused drive towards the realization of their objectives. Further, the underlying question in Giddens’ theory brings out the core idea that the main issue that should be of focus to the society needs to be the realization of the form that the society would take when the members of the society adopt the approach of individualisation (Giddens, 1991). The presentable benefits of the process still remain to be a major factor that underlines the importance of understanding the main effects of the issue of interest. 

Discrimination in the contemporary society and the lack of individualisation 

Individualisation is not effectively outlined in the whole community to the point that it serves every individual’s needs. Thus, because of the lack of individualisation in some areas, there still exist some levels of discrimination since many people follow the societal systems and course regarding particular issues occurring in the society (Middlemiss, 2014). For instance, social stratification in the society is one of the major aspects that highlight discrimination in the contemporary society. The grouping of people in a particular class because of how they are successful in the society is quite discriminating in the sense that it does not accord people access to the same opportunities. Such societies are an indication of the lack of individualisation since the members of the society do not have the opportunity of developing their own guidelines to direct them on the direction that they need to follow (Middlemiss, 2014). The type of discrimination highlighted also impedes individualisation in the sense that it does not allow the members of the society to take a different path from the one outlined by the society. In such societies, achieving the highest rank in the society requires an individual to go through the system outlined by the community. For example, an individual needs to go through the necessary education system before landing a desirable occupation. The system further exists in a way that those who dare take a different path might end up lying at the bottom of the social pyramid. Thus, the situation presented highlights another indication of the failure of some societies in accepting the aspect of individualisation. 

Conclusion

The aspect of individualisation appears to be an unavoidable component of the future, and a great part of the modern society and modernity. One of the major views on the aspect of individualisation is that it acts as an increased opportunity for individuals to influence their life and make their personal decision. The main challenging idea concerning the aspect of individualisation is the question on whether people usually make their own choices in regards to the selection they choose, or it is rather the external environment that determines their selection. Further, the hypothesis made by Beck is that the behaviours of individuals were becoming less bounded to the traditional norms and values, and the sources of collective identities such as the social class and other elements of social stratification. Giddens, on the other hand, focuses on three main elements while presenting his argument regarding the aspect of individualisation. Finally, social stratification in the community is one of the impeding factors affecting the appropriateness of individualisation in the society and the various ways that can improve its incorporation into the society. 

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