Individualisation - Past and Present Essay

Individualisation - Past and Present Essay

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The purpose of this essay is to describe the effect of individualisation and its impact on today’s society in contrast to the past. The main focus will be on women and the changes which have been implemented from the past to the present day. Individualisation has been defined by Ray (2005) as a theory of decision taking by an individual engaged in living ‘a life of ones own’, this has emerged as an influential category of contemporary Western society. It is concerned with the way that social action is increasing mediated through and by the individual person. Bauman (1991) describes individualisation as the idea that human identity is being transformed from a ‘given’ into a ‘task’ and that it is the individual who is variously charged with the responsibility for performing that task and for the consequences involved as well as the side effects of their performance.
Individualisation has been known to have major implications for the formation of family bonds and according to leading sociological theorist Giddens (1992), we have now entered a ‘late modern’ period of de- traditionalisation and the breakdown of traditional heterosexual relationships and family homes. Social ties of kinship and marriage are becoming increasing weakened and now being replaced with the notion of the ‘self’. Social structures such as class, gender and the family are now withering away due to the increase and opportunities in education, economic prosperity and the welfare state which have freed us from externally constrained barriers and given us the freedom to make our own decisions in life. Though this has been criticised by sociologists Jamieson (1998) and Duncan and Irwin (2004) in two ways.
Firstly, the structures of social groups and moral codes h...


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...reinforces the notion of the ‘reflexive self’ and claims individual achievement raises expectations of personal satisfaction. Instead of putting others first, people are focusing on them selves more and constantly looking to find ways in which they can satisfy themselves. We are obsessed with human relationships and are constantly looking for new opportunities. Women in particular, as Jamieson (1998) states, expect more out of a marriage then men and have less to gain from empty-shell marriages. Due to opportunities for women which have improved in the past fifty years, as a result they are economically more independent no longer need men. Though it can not be said the same for men as they are still dependant on women for emotional support in a relationship. We as individuals have lost the typical heterosexual relationship view which was that marriage is for life.

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