This essay explores the variety of discourses around individualism that now characterize American society, and their impact on contemporary social movements and political speech and practice. Though the United States is divided between those who embrace a cosmopolitan liberalism and nativist and populist reactions against it, I argue that contemporary vocabularies of the self, from romantic expressivism and entrepreneurial individualism to aesthetic and networked forms, underlie these different political perspectives. These modes of individualism have developed in the context of the rise of neo-liberalism, reflexive modernity, increased social media use, and the crisis of contemporary institutions. These languages of the self also inform the personal politics of modern social movements, including Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Tea Party, and the election of Donald Trump.
American Journal of Cultural Sociology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 2017
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