This course will provide students with a sociological understanding of the changing and central importance of individualization for contemporary society, situated both in historical and global comparative terms. The fracturing of collective bonds and assumptions and the casting of individuals into a 'life of their own making' is driven by a combination of economic, technological and cultural forces and is becoming apparent across the globe. This has provoked concern with the implications for social order, mental health and even the future of families and populations. The neglected theme of individualization allows us to examine changing social norms, the changing boundaries of private and public, the management of social order and cohesion in increasingly diverse societies and how anxieties concerning these developments may be overstated or misplaced. At the same time, this module will also emphasize the importance of attending to the ethical and practical implications of unchecked individualization in a variety of contexts and through different case studies
This module appears in the following module collections.
The module will be taught by lectures, seminars and private study.
Total Contact Hours: 22
Private Study Hours: 128
Method of assessment
40% Exam and 60% Coursework:
Essay – no more than 2,500 words: 50%
Seminar Participation: 10%
Exam (2 hours; closed book): 40%
Ishikawa, S. 2007. Seeking the Self: Individualism and Popular Culture in Japan. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
Beck, U. and Beck-Gernsheim, E. 2002. Individualization: Institutionalized Individualism and its Social and Political Consequences, London: Sage Publications
Putnam, R. 2001. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Storr, W. 2017. Selfie. London: Picador.
Hansen, M. and Svarverud, R, 2010. IChina: The Rise of the Individual in Modern Chinese Society, Copenhagen: NIAS Press
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
1 Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the changing character and implications of individualization in contemporary society
2 Demonstrate a critical and systematic knowledge of different forms of individualization in different societies, particularly the
European, East Asian and American contexts, and understand why these have developed
3 Achieve an in-depth and critical understanding of some of the key texts associated with the sociological understanding of
4 Critically analyse how social class, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexuality may influence the experience of individualization
5 Achieve a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of how individualization can foster our ability to reflect upon our and others'
social experiences, and explore how problematic implications of individualization might be critically contested
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Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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