Paradoxes of Individualization : Social Control and Social Conflict in Contemporary Modernity book cover
1st Edition

Paradoxes of Individualization
Social Control and Social Conflict in Contemporary Modernity

ISBN 9780754679011
Published December 2, 2011 by Routledge
200 Pages

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Book Description

Paradoxes of Individualization addresses one of the most hotly debated issues in contemporary sociology: whether a process of individualization is liberating selves from society so as to make them the authors of their personal biographies. The book adopts a cultural-sociological approach that firmly rejects such a notion of individualization as naïve. The process is instead conceptualized as an increasing social significance of moral notions of individual liberty, personal authenticity and cultural tolerance, which informs two paradoxes. Firstly, chapters about consumer behavior, computer gaming, new age spirituality and right-wing extremism demonstrate that this individualism entails a new, yet often unacknowledged, form of social control. The second paradox, addressed in chapters about religious, cultural and political conflict, is concerned with the fact that it is precisely individualism's increased social significance that has made it morally and politically contested. Paradoxes of Individualization, will therefore be of interest to scholars and students of cultural sociology, cultural anthropology, political science, and cultural, religious and media studies, and particularly to those with interests in social theory, culture, politics and religion.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: the myth of individualization and the dream of individualism; Agony of choice?: the social embeddedness of consumer decisions (with Sebastiaan van Doorn and Jochem Verheul); Beyond the spiritual supermarket: why new age spirituality is less privatized than they say it is; 'Be who you want to be': commodified agency in online computer games; 'Stormfront is like a second home to me': social exclusion of right-wing extremists; Contesting individualism online: Catholic, Protestant and holistic spiritual appropriations of the world wide web (with Ineke Noomen); Two lefts and two rights: class voting and cultural voting in the Netherlands, 2002 (with Peter Achterberg); One nation without God?: post-Christian cultural conflict in the Netherlands, (with Peter Achterberg and Jeroen van der Waal); Secular intolerance in a post-Christian society: the case of Islam in the Netherlands (with Samira van Bohemen and Roy Kemmers); Bibliography; Index.

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Dick Houtman is Professor of Cultural Sociology and Religion at theUniversity of Leuven, Belgium. Stef Aupers is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Willem de Koster is researcher and lecturer at the Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


A Yankee Book Peddler UK Core Title for 2011 'Houtman, Aupers and De Koster's book is a fine example of the new cultural sociology convincingly showing that culture is the decisive factor in understanding various phenomena, ranging from the role of the internet to the rise of populism. I have seldom come across a book so well written, so rich in its theoretical grounding and so insightful in its empirical accounts.' Jan Willem Duyvendak,'University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands 'With a variety of fresh Dutch evidence, this book shows how contemporary individualism both shapes everyday experience and causes new forms of exclusion and intolerance. Reporting original research on a contentious issue, it makes stimulating reading for anyone interested in a central modern myth and its very real consequences.' Frank Lechner, Emory University, USA