The Influence Of Individualism In America

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America has had a tumultuous existence, replete with war, progress, and ideologies. The most formidable of the latter is individualism: the shift of society’s focus from the group to the individual along with a growing emphasis on this individual’s personal needs and desires. Despite wide criticism, it has become the societal norm, spanning all generations, genders, races, and walks of life. Indeed, it is nearly inseparable from the country’s history, rising and falling over the decades as the United States shifts and evolves. Individualism is undeniably a constant factor within the fluctuation of America and has been since its very dawn (Gans 1).
The individual, his preferences, and his habits are naturally the primary focus of individualism. However, neither his pursuit of self-gratification nor the promotion of personal liberties and control over his life make up its entirety. Overall, the ideology of individualism involves society as a whole nearly as much as it involves the individual (Beck 202). It is as much the changing and shifting relationship between the individual and society as it is the individual’s decisions and self-interest (Tocqueville 502). While this “doctrine of self-interest such as it is preached in America is [not] evident in all its parts”, it is tightly intertwined with American culture, society, and history (Tocqueville 503).
Individualism first appeared in America in the early 17th century with the arrival of the Pilgrims, a people facing
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