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Two important sociological terms

Two important sociological terms

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Two important sociological terms

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  1. Two important sociological terms • Self-reflexivity = constantly thinking about oneself, monitoring oneself. • Agency = the ability to exert one’s will or desire in the world, such as to affect change or an action.

  2. Protestant religion: a focus on individual salvation, individual prosperity = a sign of God’s favor (Puritans) Democracy: a struggle against monarchical and aristocratic authority that seemed arbitrary and oppressive to citizens prepared to rule themselves John Locke (17th century English philosopher): biological individuals are prior to society, which only comes into existence through the voluntary contract of individuals trying to maximize their own self-interest Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack (1733-1758): individuals should work on their self-improvement, particularly financial self-improvement: “God helps those who help themselves.” Various Strands in American Individualism

  3. The conjugal family as the site of emotion, love, and fulfillment The home seen as a retreat from the public sphere (work, politics), particularly for men The rise of intimate genres of letters and novels The Private Sphere & the Individual

  4. “Viewing one’s primary task as ‘finding oneself’ in autonomous self-reliance, separating oneself not only from one’s parents but also from those larger communities and traditions that constitute one’s past, leads to the notion that it is in oneself, perhaps in relation to a few intimate others, that fulfillment is to be found.”---Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart (1985), p. 163 Individualism Today

  5. A concern with “who am I?” expressed through lifestyle. Identity becomes a project, with many possible choices. Yet: individualism weakens the very meanings that give content and substance to the individual. Yet: our economy highly interdependent. Hard to be independent economically. A particular segment of one’s life and one’s world---including one’s body---becomes something one can control. An anorexic woman’s story: pages 103-104 Why is cultivating the body critical to the individualist self?