Essay: Sociology Relationship Between Individual

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[. . .] These changes affect the relationship between the individual and society. Industrialization is one of the greatest changes in society that influences the relationship between society and the individual. It serves as one of the major factors that transitions the pre-modern to the modern world, as well as one of the transitions into the rise of the individual over the society.

Veenhoven (1999) theories on the relationship between the individual and society, as well as how or why that relationship has changed. He furthermore theorizes upon how individuals and societies recognize these effects; he later proposes way in which to measure the changes in the relationship.

In the process of modernization, western societies became ever more individualistic. At the individual level this involved both greater awareness of ones own preferences and greater ability to act independently. At the societal level individualization involves greater freedom and a change in social regulation from normative prescription to negotiation These developments are linked to several other modernization processes, such as growing division of labor, extension of youth and expanding education. There is a rich literature on the nature of individualism and on the determinants of the individualization process (o.a. Triandis 1990). (Veenhoven, 1999)

There is evidence of Veenhoven's theories in the 21st century America, for example. American culture is very much a consumer culture. This is a culture that is fortunate enough to have wide access to many forms of information technology, the use of which is very much based in individual customization. People customize their mobile devices, their online avatars, their email accounts, and significantly, their social media presences. It is a part of American culture to express one's identity through the various personal objects (real and virtual) that they customize. A 21st century American might say, "I am what I consume" or "My stuff represents who I am." These examples refers to Veenhoven's statements about the expression of preferences and an increased awareness of one's preferences.

Consider online dating and other online communities. One of the first steps to participation in this activities and groups is to fill out, what is usually, quite elaborate profiles that ask about the applying individual's preferences. People meet each other based on their preferences and the values they place upon those preferences. Veenhoven brings the debate into the realm of individualization.

Individuation is an expression of the rise of the individual in the relationship between the individual and society. Modernization, examples of which are industrialization and the information age, promote the individual and devalue the society, or at least modify the value and function of society with respect to the individual. Further influences that contribute to the rise of the individual and individuation mentioned are the division of labor and youth & community work. This speaks to the number of Marxist theorists across fields of study that research and debate the relationship between the individual and the society. His quotation further relates to Jeffs & Smiths (2002) and their views as to how the debate of this relationship is central to the development and growth of youth work and community work, particularly countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Blake explains the concept of individuation with respect to theories by Carl Jung and modern society. She states:

One of the main tenets of Jungian psychology is the concept of Individuation. Individuation is striving for wholeness of the personality. Jung adopted the term from Aristotle and others who wrote of the principium individuation is, the process by which the general becomes ever more particular as it develops. Each individual has an opportunity for development that is unique. The terms individual and individuation are not synonymous…human beings also have personalities and each human personality is often vastly different from the others, with considerable differences in consciousness. (Blake, 2012)

From the quotation, it is evident that the concept of individuation is as old as western culture as it is understood today. Over the course of Jung's lifespan, he experienced the transition between pre-modern and modern society. He experienced the shifts in the perspective, in the individual, in the society, as well as the theorizing and debate over which takes greater precedence: the society or the individual. The time period in which he lived informs his theories and in some ways validates their authenticity.

Individuation and individuals are distinctive. Individuals are singular beings -- one being, one human, is an individual. Individuation is the growth into the fullest potential of an individual personality. There is both positive and negative potential for individuation. Individuation is an influential aspect in the consideration of the relationship between the society and an individual. Blake explicates further:

Individuation is always to some extent opposed to collective norms, since it means separation and differentiation from the general and a building up of the particular -- not a particularity that is sought out, but one that is already ingrained in the psychic condition. The opposition to the collective norm, however, is only apparent, since closer examination shows that the individual standpoint is not antagonistic to it, but only differently oriented. (Blake, 2012)

Individuation is another form of tension within the relationship between individuals and societies. Here is where the positive and negative aspects of individuation are exposed. Individuation contributes to the rise of the individual over the health and value of the society. Conversely, individuation can enrich the society when individuals have and use the increased self-awareness and articulation of identity in a positive respect.

Individuation it of itself is a type of paradox. To participate in individuation is to both become more of an individual and at the same time, individuation promotes the growth of society. Individuation could promote the opposition between individual and society; it can also expand and enrich the society in which the individuation takes place. Ultimately, Jung and Blake align with perspective of this paper, which is that individuals and societies are not in opposition to each other; they are in some kind of synchronous orbit or in a sate of symbiosis.

Individuation is quite rampant in modern, industrial, consumer societies. Their manifestations are evident in American culture, for example, but not nearly in as many positive iterations than are possible. From the perspective of Marxist-infused sociological perspective, individuation promotes the increase of consumption as well as augments alienation within individuals in such societies. Alienation is a negative expression of individuation, yet the affects and examples of individuation are not limited to alienation within a capitalist, consumer, and/or industrialized societies. The concept and some of the implications of individuation; now the measurements and evidence of individuation will be considered.

The paper refers again to Veenhoven for insight as to how the evidence of individuation can be perceived.

In spite of much theorizing, there is not so much empirical research on the consequences of individualization for the quality-of-life. In the available studies, individualisation is seldom measured as such. Commonly, it is assumed to be implied in modernization and 'measured' by manifestations of that, such as urbanization and industrialization. Quality-of-life is typically equated with absence of specific miseries. Common measures are incidence of deviant behaviors (such as homicide, alcoholism and suicide) and psycho-pathology (as measured by incidence of depression or admissions to mental hospitals). (Veenhoven, 1999)

Individuation is acknowledged, yet not accessed accurately. There is an awareness of it and the factors that contribute to it, yet there is no substantial body of research to measure, quantify, or qualify the evidence of individuation in modern society. Some researchers and theorists, contemporarily, have begun to make estimates as the ways individuation shows itself, as well as how to measure and study individuation. This illustrates other aspects of the inherent tensions in the relationship between societies and individuals.

It is difficult to qualify an occurrence without significant studies. It is difficult to measure an event without any standard of measurement. These aspects show how though this is a very old issue and thus a very old debate, how there is still plenty to study and question. There is a great deal of ground that is still left to cover in the relationship between individuals and societies. Furthermore, modern theorists of the 21st century, often describe the changes in society that are a result of advances in information technology, that the world has not experienced changes on this scale since the early days of industrialization. Therefore, it is quite arguable that some other form individuation is occurring right now. It may be a new former of individuation, such as individuation 2.0, or it may end up needing to be classified as an entirely separate psychological and behavioral phenomena. Such drastic changes in individuation and society affect forms of integration into various groups, including individuals as well as forms of differentiation among groups and among individuals.

References:

Blake, NCPsyA, M. (2012). Individuation. Web, Available from: http://www.marthablake.com/individuation1.html. 2012 November 14.

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