Individualism embraces a wide diversity of meanings and is widely used by those who criticise and by those who praise Western societies and their culture, by historians and literary scholars in search of the emergence of 'the individual', by anthropologists claiming that there are different, culturally shaped conceptions of the individual or 'person', by philosophers debating what form social science explanations should take and by political theorists defending liberal principles.
In this classic text, Steven Lukes discusses what 'individualism' has meant in various national traditions and across different provinces of thought, analysing it into its component unit-ideas and doctrines. He further argues that it now plays a malign ideological role, for it has come to evoke a socially-constructed body of ideas whose illusory unity is deployed to suggest that redistributive policies are neither feasible nor desirable and to deny that there are institutional alternatives to the market.
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The Semantic History of Individualism
The Relations Between These Ideas
Equality and Liberty