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Despite some popular arguments to the Contrary, American’s are like people everywhere: naturally social, interdependent, and shaped by social forces. The Myth of Individualism offers a concise introduction to sociology and sociological thinking. Callero challenges the dominant belief that human behavior is the result of free choices made by autonomous actors. Drawing upon personal stories, historical events, and sociological research, Callero offers an informative outlook on enduring social problems that can help us begin the process of developing a sociological perspective. By acknowledging the limits of individual effort and control, we gain insight into our own lives and the lives of others.
Callero engagingly examines the fundamental importance of cultural symbols, the pressures of group conformity, the influence of family, the impact of social class, the wide reach of global capitalism and the revolutionary potential of collective action. The second edition is updated throughout, including new examples from the recent financial crisis and the Arab Spring. It, also, includes a new chapter on the power of mass media and how media influences our lives. The Myth of Individualism is a must-read for anyone interested in how powerful social forces shape individual lives in subtle but compelling ways.
Professor Callero, with head and heart, knows of what he writes, for he combines powerful narrative, praxis, and vision. One would expect no less from a scholar of society who has dedicated his life to seeking both truth and social justice. Such is a dialectic we all need to practice. And in the spirit of seeking truth and a better world, readers of this fine book can engage in a constructive debate with the author: is individualism a myth (in the pejorative sense) or is it an imaginative personal growth opportunity to go deep into one's spiritual and existential solitude (like Thoreau, for instance) and discover a profound social—and ecological—solidarity? Callero engages us if we decide to think with our whole beings as we read, in the best Socratic and Gandhian satyagraha traditions.
Peter Callero's The Myth of Individualism is the kind of introductory sociology text that is needed to reach the millennium generation of students flooding into our colleges and universities. Current freshmen do not accept something as 'true' just because someone in authority tells them to think that way; they want to understand 'why' things are the way that they are and believe that they can impact pressing social issues. Instead of the 'time-tested' approach of many intro Sociology textbooks—i.e. cataloging the social institutions and processes—Callero invites students to actively engage in sociological thinking by focusing on how our society's blind acceptance of logic of individualism masks individuals' understanding the relationship between our personal lives and the social forces that structure them. With examples taken from current events, The Myth of Individualism will inspire students to reject reductionist explanations for social outcomes (e.g. the rich are rich because they work harder than other people), and to utilize a sociological perspective in responding to the issues they encounter in everyday life in a complicated world.
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Individualism: The Power of a Myth
2. Becoming a Person: The Power of Symbols
3. Conformity and Disobedience: The Power of the Group
4. Family Matters: The Power of Social Class
5. Globalization: The Power of Capitalism
6. Violence, Sex, and Politics: The Power of Mass Media
7. From “Me” to “We”: The Power of Collective Action