Prof. Paul de Beer
The impact of individualization on solidarity
It is often suggested that the secular trend of individualization undermines solidarity and, hence, public support for the welfare state. If individuals are increasingly oriented towards their self-interest, then they are supposed to be less willing to help others and to support public provisions that are meant to protect the vulnerable and the weak. However, both ‘individualization’ and ‘solidarity’ can be interpreted in various ways. Hence, it does not seem very likely beforehand that there is only one particular causal relationship between these different interpretations.
In my presentation I will first discuss three different interpretations of individualization and four different forms of solidarity. Then I will show that in the past few decades the Netherlands witnessed neither an unambiguous trend of individualization nor a general decline of solidarity. Next I will formulate a number of hypotheses on the impact of the three interpretations of individualization on the various forms of solidarity. Finally, I will tests these hypotheses empirically by performing a cross-sectional analysis of the impact of individualization on solidarity at the individual level.
This presentation is based on three papers, one in English and two in Dutch:
- How individualized are the Dutch?
- Hoe solidair is de Nederlander nog?
- Individualisering en solidariteit
Look at the website www.uva-aias.net for more information on the lunch seminar series.