Individualism is a worldview that emphasizes the primary importance of the individual and personal independence. The French word "individualisme" is derived from the Latin "individuum" - "indivisible." It is opposed to collectivism, practice and ideology of limiting an individual to society. Individualism is a term of social psychology, since its development in a person is directly related to the factors of society. This concept postulates that the interests of society are inferior to the interests of individuals consisting of it.
Despite the long-term propaganda of the principle of individualism, it cannot be called prevalent, given the dependence on economic prerequisites. During the period of the Soviet system, this principle was considered a manifestation of antisocial egoism, and collectivism was the dominant state ideology. The lack of experience of a harmonious relationship between these principles has led to the widespread concept of social Darwinism, torn from the context of which the slogan "survives the fittest" led to a criminal revolution that compromised market reforms.
What is individualism?
The concept of individualism as the need to reduce pressure on the individual from the surrounding society, was formed among the community of political philosophers of England in the era of the new time. It is the principle of individualism, which is the fundamental classical political economy, formulated by Adam Smith. Which states that an individual who cares about his own benefit, benefits society, regardless of the focus on it, more effectively than a conscious desire for the good of society. Supporters of socialist theories began to use individualism as opposed to socialism, which led to the rooting of the negative interpretation of individualism by egoism.
The formation of individualism begins in childhood. The type of a nuclear family consisting of a couple or one adult with a child becomes dominant in society, which is contrasted to an extended family of the traditional type, with joint management of several generations, which already limits the early formation of the experience of collective coexistence. The nuclear family is seen as the essential goal of upbringing the learning of independent living. An adult child is expected to leave the family and maintain a separate household, possibly reducing contact with relatives to a minimum or completely discontinuing them.
Raising self-reliance, parents encourage the child to learn and prepare for independent earnings, pocket money is the property of the child. The practice of underworking enables young people to gradually become independent of the economic resources of their parents.
The social system of the western and pro-western society is also focused on the development of individualism. As the society gradually removes custody of the future generation, the ability to adapt becomes a priority formation. Autonomy is promoted by the education system, when social origin does not play a significant role, equality is constitutionally provided. A focus on achieving goals, rather than building long-term relationships, leads to the creation and disintegration of communication cells, depending on the tasks.
The principle of open expression and further protection of individual opinion, including unpleasant for society, the clash of opposing positions and direct confrontation are natural for the development of society.
One of the main, statistically confirmed, foundations of the development of individualism is the welfare of society. Highly qualified specialists and representatives of the top of society are more inclined to individualism. But when gaining independence, an individual is increasingly left alone in the face of problems that arise, and the will of choice bears the burden of personal responsibility, which increases the stress load.
Individualism in psychology
Individualism is a form of worldview that emphasizes the primacy of personal goals and interests, the independence of individual behavior. Harry Triandis, a social psychologist, proposed the term idiocentric. It denotes personalities oriented toward self-perfection, with an individualistic worldview, who prioritize their own convictions and, in the event of confrontation, strive to change the situation, and not their own convictions. Individualists demonstrate more effective results in independent work, collective moods are actualized only in case of danger.
For individualists, group goals remain in the background. Although a person is always a participant in the social, the individualist is highly autonomous and is able to successfully realize himself, turning to their resources minimally.
Individualism is in psychology an idea of the basic selfish human nature, that allows you to build with him a competent relationship, building communication respecting the benefits of both parties. It is the basis for the approval of humanistic values, the right to self-expression, the spirit of competition and fair play. The lack of sacrifice eliminates the concept of sacrifice, and rivalry is not perceived as treachery and attack if there is no imposed loyalty.
Important for this worldview is the concept of "privacy", usually translated as "personal space". But in the same way, the feeling of importance of non-violation of personal boundaries is combined with respect for the boundaries of the other and the recognition of a different value system.
Relationships built on individualism contain less prohibitions and more rights for mistakes, with a natural sense of personal responsibility for them. Restraint of liberty, to keep from potentially dangerous, does not give the person the experience necessary for survival. These examples of individualism are noticeable in modern upbringing, with an increase in non-interference of elders in the life of the younger generation. Encouraging personal responsibility contributes to a more creative approach, initiative, activity, when the power of tradition and oppressive norms does not become an obstacle to self-actualization and eccentricity.
Individualism and egoism - the difference
In everyday use, the concept of egoism is often mixed in its meaning with individualism. The idea is widespread that there is an ethics of the individual and the morality of society, then the morality of the individual is equal to individualism, egoism, and the morality of society corresponds to collectivism and altruism, to the detriment of the individual. But examples of individualism allow and welcome altruism, in which a person voluntarily limits his interests for the benefit of others. Altruism is antonymic to egoism, individualism to collectivism.
The difference between individualism and egoism is expressed in the fact that egoism is a variant of life position, when the realization of one’s own interests is possible at the cost of causing damage to other individuals or society as a whole. Individualism posits the protection of its own values, showing respect for others. To a certain extent, egoism is a lack of respect for one’s own resources, since the individual is not able to build a life and self-actualize without aggressively selecting the resources of others.
Egoism is associated with infantilism, when a person behaves like a baby using a mother, which is the source of his life resources, transferring this type of relationship to others, projecting on them the scenario of unconditional and gifting mother's love. Since the behavior of others does not correspond to this behavioral pattern (which is not surprising), the expectation turns into demand and selection using the available levers of influence.
While individualistic autonomy presupposes relying on one’s own capabilities, when the need (and therefore use, including damaging, aggressive) is perceived as a low development of autonomy. Independent position pushes for continuous self-improvement, recognizing the limits of their capabilities. Expanding an array of personal capabilities, a person is able to exchange and donate resources and experience, because he knows how to get them again, having the appropriate experience. The sociality of the individual lies in the fact that his development takes place in interaction, and not in confrontation with others, such as carriers of personal interests.