'Selfies': Individualization and Society - SOCI6011

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 22
Private Study Hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


Optional module with particular relevance to the BA (Hons) Sociology and can also be taken as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

40% Exam and 60% Coursework:
Essay – no more than 2,500 words: 50%
Seminar Participation: 10%
Exam (2 hours; closed book): 40%

Reassessment methods

100% Coursework

Indicative reading

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)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the changing character and implications of individualization in contemporary society
8.2 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
8.3 Achieve an in-depth and critical understanding of some of the key texts associated with the sociological understanding of individualization
8.4 Critically analyse how social class, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexuality may influence the experience of individualization
8.5 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

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding;
9.2 Critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame
appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem;
9.3 Communicate information, ideas, problems, and solutions to specialist audiences;


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.