Individualism versus Collectivism: Philosophical Aspects

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Individualism as a doctrine in social ontology - in the theory of what sorts of entities are important in the social world - is usually contrasted with collectivism. Collectivism comes in two varieties, hard and soft. The hard variety of collectivism argues that social-structural laws and forces, as revealed in social science, undermine the image of the human being as an autonomous agent. Individualism denies that this is so, while admitting that agency is subject to various limitations and failures. The softer variety of collectivism argues only that social science shows that human agency is not quite as central as common sense may suggest, illustrating the point in a variety of different theses. This sort of collectivism need not be rejected by individualists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Atomism
  • Collectivism
  • Group agency
  • Individualism
  • Singularism
  • Social ontology


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