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Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive PoliticsStyles of Engagement among Grassroots Activists$
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Stephen Hart

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226318172

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226318196.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 03 June 2020

Individualism and its Discontents

Individualism and its Discontents

Chapter:
(p.189) Chapter 7 Individualism and its Discontents
Source:
Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226318196.003.0009

How do the case studies and the way of thinking about public discourse speak to contemporary debates about the American cultural scene—the ideologies, religions, and views of the world—and about the impact of these cultural forms on the potentials for progressive politics? This chapter addresses this topic by considering the views of various social critics (along with scholars and journalists) and comparing them to what one sees when one observes activist groups. The chapter discusses the problems and possibilities of individualism and civil society in America. It argues that progressives actually need individualism, but of a particular kind: an individualism that seeks justice and liberty equally, that neither rejects rights language nor accepts it uncritically, and that does not assume that liberty or the individual are “natural” phenomena. The chapter also shows how elements of such an individualism can be found in contemporary activism.

Keywords:   individualism, American culture, cultural forms, progressive politics, civil society, liberty, political activism

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