Differentiation and Individualization

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 5:50 PM
Room: Booth 56
Oral Presentation
Kathya ARAUJO , Departamento de Estudios Generales, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, Santiago de Chile, Chile
Social differentiation has been identified since the so called sociological “classics” (Durkheim or Simmel) as one of the most important structural features of the emergence of modern societies and modern Individual. The evidence of this thesis was never thoroughly questioned despite the criticism offered by historians, and especially that by anthropologists. Departing from empirical evidence resulting from a study on individuation processes in current Chilean society, this paper aims to discuss in which sense and under which parameters it is possible to conceive the relationship differentiation – individualization nowadays. Based upon our results we will specifically discuss four theoretical – methodological issues: (1) The relationship between social differentiation and social complexity. (2) The sociological registers of individuality. (3) The relationship between structural changes and forms of individuality (in a sociological sense). (4) The meaning that must be assigned to the notion of structural diversification from a methodological perspective. This discussion should lead us to the basic argument of this paper: It is necessary to interpret the sociological forms of individuality taking into account the plural modalities that structural complexity acquires in each society, and, consequently, the plurality of experiences confronted by individuals. This does not imply that everyone is modern, as supporters of globalization or multiple modernities due to different reasons seem to affirm. This demands us to understand how in every society, at present or in the past, at the “center” or at the “periphery”, social structures - due to their distinctive features in each one of them - induce divergent social forms of individuality. The former implies that we might understand the foundational sociological narration about differentiation and individualization simultaneously as a general interpretative model and a very specific historical path.