Published on

  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide


  1. 1. indi tion vidu alisa Members’ Report #4/2005 Betweem individualisation and community Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies Instituttet for Fremtidsforskning
  2. 2. Content - Part I: Introduction .................................................................................................................... 4 What is individualisation? ................................................................................................ 5 Manifestations of individualisation ................................................................................... 7 Six examples of the manifestations of individualisation towards 2016 1. Me and my lifestyle ................................................................................................... 15 2. My personal genome ................................................................................................ 19 3. Me and my God ....................................................................................................... 23 4. I am a Yeppie............................................................................................................ 27 5. Me and the conflict ................................................................................................... 31 6. Me and freedom ....................................................................................................... 35 Content - Part II: Introduction .................................................................................................................... 4 What is community? ....................................................................................................... 5 how modern communities manifest themselves ............................................................. 7 Six examples of the manifestations of communities towards 2016 1. We meet in the e-communities ................................................................................. 15 2. We want to be good. ................................................................................................ 19 3. Consumer communities ............................................................................................ 23 4. the communities of experience ................................................................................ 27 5. the clubs and me ..................................................................................................... 31 6. We are networking.................................................................................................... 35 MeMbeRS’ RepoRt #4/2005: Between IndIvIdualISatIon and CommunIty. developed bY CopenhaGen InStItute foR futuReS StudIeS (CIfS).text: bIRthe lInddal hanSen (pRojeCt ManaGeR), peteR MøRkebeRG hInSbY, CathRIne SChMIdt, ChRIStIne lInd dItlevSen, klauS æ. MoGenSen, and fRank høGholM. layout: GItte laRSen. englISh adaPtatIon: fleMMInG RaSCh. graPhIC deSIgn: nXt. PICtureS: GettYIMaGeS.CoM, nXt. PrInt: junGeRSen GRafISk apS. thIS RepoRt IS foR MeMbeRS of CIfS onlY. CIfS’ MeMbeRS’ RepoRtS aRe publIShed quaRteRlY. the neXt one In MaRCh 2006. tItle: “10 polaRISatIon tRendS”. CopenhaGen InStItute foR futuReS StudIeS, deCeMbeR 2005 and auGuSt 2006.
  3. 3. Introduction On the one hand we have plenty of examples of how we’re all becoming more diverse and indivi- dual. On the other hand there is no doubt that modern communities thrive. Individualisation and modern communities exist side by side. Individualisation – an important development trend It’s mentioned over and over again. It has generated countless headlines in recent years. It is con- stantly used to explain why this or that phenomenon has turned out the way it has. We all refer to it when we claim the right to make things just the way we want them. It’s called individualisation. We have all become individualists; we have all become the axis on which the world turns. We make our own choices. We choose our friends, our clothes, our furniture, and who we want to play with. We create our own identity, we decide on the meaning of life, and we take the consequences. That is individualism taken to its ultimate conclusion; an exaggeration or perhaps a caricature, but nonetheless an unequivocal depiction of the modern concept of individuality. It has already become the standard we’ve come to measure ourselves against and it may be even more so in the fu- ture. I am myself, and the world around me perceives me as a unique entity; therefore the boundary between me and the world around me is important. It’s important who I am, how I look, what sym- bols I surround myself with, and how I act. My job, my house, and my husband are all part of my brand, a part of my personal identity, which is why all of it must be chosen with care. Individualisation is here to stay, and it may have permanently displaced tradition, heritage, and religion as the most valid cause. Everywhere in society we see individualisation manifest itself in purer and purer form: To some extent we create our own identity by picking and choosing from life’s great buffet. In a few years we’ll all be equipped with personal genetic profiles that allow us to fine-tune our health status. More and more we live single lives and carry that lifestyle into family life. Through our consumption we adorn ourselves with icons that extend our personal brand and express our individuality. Individualisation is changing age-old habits and norms in fundamental ways and much will never be the same again. Are you aware of the individualisation trend, and do you know the consequences it will have for yourself, your neighbour, your customers, your business, and society in general? Despite individualisation, we will remain social creatures who enjoy being together and want acceptance; hence modern communities still thrive. Some may even say that individualisation has provided better conditions for communities. Individualisation and modern communities exist side by side, and it’s the relationship between the two that this members’ report explores. What will hap- pen to people, society, lifestyles, consumption, and the political reality when individualisation takes over and the conditions for communities change? Enjoy! Birthe Lindal Hansen, project manager Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, December 2005 4
  4. 4. what is Individualisation? According to the dictionary, individualism is: a view that champions the rights and freedom of the individual in society. To individualise: To adapt something to the special circumstances that apply to the individual. An individualist: An adherent of individualism who has his own opinions and walks his own ways. Individuality: The sum total of an individual’s distinctive character and peculiarities. Individualisation is thus defined as a condition where society as a whole increasingly adapts to the circumstances, preferences, and needs of each individual while acknowledging the individual’s right to this and encourages it to use it. a historical perspective We have many historical examples of different societies, but almost all of them have one thing in common: The individual subordinated itself to the group as represented by a chieftain, a noble- man, a king, a president, a religion, a state, a party, a business, or an ideology – usually a combi- nation of several of these. The reasons for this were many, e.g. survival in the face of nature and enemies, but also religious or political dogma. Yet, there are many signs today of the community being superseded in favour of the individual. The happiness of the individual – its fulfilment and self-actualisation – is increasingly becoming the purpose of community. This is truly the Age of the Individual – where society pays more and more attention to the individual. During the Age of Antiquity there was little room for the individual, as society and the state were considered above the needs of the individual. The progress of Christianity did not change this for the first many centuries. Not until the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century was the faithful released from his subordination to the Catholic Church, turning his relationship with God into a much more personal matter. The German sociologist Max Weber is renowned for having pointed out how the growth of Capitalism is linked to Protestantism. Protestantism made it not only permissible to accumulate worldly goods, but actually virtuous to do so, in accordance with the Pro- testant doctrine of earning salvation in this world. To grasp and hoard for personal benefit had for a millennium been a sinful and egoistical act detrimental to the community, but now the productive family and work life came to be seen as respectable. The individual became valued as an important economic resource, although still subordinated to the state and the church of the feudal society. The validation of daily life brought by the Reformation was followed by, among others, Adam Smith, the Father of Liberalism, who in the late 18th Century became famous for his theory about every man working to better his own condition. Even the poorest soldier was able to take care of his own life and be personally responsible for his own happiness. It was time to challenge the interfe- rence, monopolies, and prerogatives of the state, because without the drive of individuals, church and state were just colossuses with feet of clay. Where social initiatives in the feudal society had been aimed at groups that already had a traditional place in the hierarchy, from the early 19th Cen- tury social organisation was more aimed at individuals who needed to be disciplined, enlightened, motivated, and educated in order for society to advance. The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote in 1784 that the individual needed to step out of its self-imposed supervision – needed to break free of authority and trust in its own rational mind. To live a life of rational self-control thus becomes an ideal, while at the same time more and more of society’s institutions become geared to- wards promoting rational self-control in individuals. Inner urges must be rationalised and the outer 5
  5. 5. norms must be internalised. Each individual must act rationally and deliberately and must be in pos- session of an inner censor whose voice is that of guilt and shame. During the 18th Century the concept of psychology develops. Individualism and personality are no longer the reflection of God’s writing on each soul, but rather the internalisation of social norms in each person. Rational self-control was the cause of a tremendous advance in productivity during the emergence of the industrial society. There is, however, an alternative to deliberate reason. Romanticism, which has its roots in the Enlightenment, primarily explores the emotional aspects of human self-expression. Here the complex inner being is in focus. But this inner being is also turned towards the surrounding society. The underlying philosophy is that each individual has a unique potential and destiny that must find their particular expression through a life-long growth process. In the early 20th Century Sigmund Freud turned this internalisation of character development into a science through his invention of psycho- analysis. To begin with, in the Industrial society, as a potential that had to be restrained, later, in the Knowledge society, as a driving force that should be released. Self-actualisation The systematic exploration of the depth of the psyche, personality facets, and exceptional capacities and interests was not an accepted goal during Antiquity, the Dark Ages, or any other earlier culture. It is accepted today because the most important resources of today and tomorrow – knowledge, creati- vity, and innovation – flourishes best without too many restraints. We are thus not just individuals for our own sake, but also for the sake of the community. Self-actualisation, i.e. actualisation of existence, whether expressed outwardly (extreme sports, adventure vacations), inwardly (meditation, religion), or as the tools of character development (love, creative work, life-long learning), has become the engine that drives society and, until further notice, the latest chapter in the history of individualisation. “The historically and geografically limited occurence of free individualism was dif- ficult to register and understand from within a discourse that was enclosed in a simi- larly limited world of experience. Today we have all the prerequisites for understand- ing how difficult it was, for we can’t really imagine a ‘non-individual’ person, a person that doesn’t choose freely and isn’t engaged in establishing his own identity nor his own welfare. He has no resonance in our own life experiences. he is a monstrosity, an indescribable creature. “Nonetheless, historical and anthropological studies constantly supply us with new evidence to the end that our ‘naturally’ free individual is a rather rare bird and a local phenomenon. A particular combination of circumstances was required to make him come to life, and he can only survive as long as these circumstances prevail. rather than being an embodiment of humanity’s basic condition, the free individual is a historical and societal construct.” Bauman, 1988 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” Human Declaration of Human Rights 6
  6. 6. manifestations of individualisation me and the others “Others should not do as I do. That’s the whole point” – author and big game hunter in Africa Natasha Illum Berg. The quote comes from a recent full-page ad campaign in the Danish newspaper Børsen; in a campaign designed to get some of their unfaithful readers back. We don’t know if the campaign made more people read newspapers, but it doesn’t matter. The interesting part is the simple, clear, and extremely dramatic message about the serious impact individualisation is having on our society. “Others should not do as I do. That’s the whole point”. Today we can’t be like everyone else. Oh, no, we have to be special. We have to be unique individuals, different from others, and entirely oursel- ves. Individuality conveys status. Those who haven’t understood the impact of individualisation, and those who cannot master the art of being individual, are not part of the future. Individualisation is an unavoidable aspect of the future, a latent part of modern society and of modernity; it is thus of immense interest, especially when looking through the spectacles of tomor- row. There’s no doubt that individualisation will play an even bigger part in the future. But in what way will individualisation affect modern society and the life of modern man? the modern interpretation of individualisation It’s not really possible to define the concept of individualisation precisely or explain exactly what it means. Debate about the individual versus the community, freedom of choice versus determinism, freedom versus security has gone on ever since the ancient Greeks began pondering the great questi- ons of life, and the philosophers and sociologists of today still haven’t reached any final conclusions. These questions often become the basis for heated discussion across the dinner table. Do welfare recipients choose whether they want to work or not? Can anyone break the social heritage if he wants to? Should we feel sorry for criminals because they really can’t help themselves? How much should the state be allowed to decide? Why do some people ’choose’ to be ugly when others don’t? How much of our ‘destiny’ do we choose ourselves? How much freedom of choice does the individual really have? Interesting discussions, all concerning basic and fundamental questions for which no clear, unambiguous answers exist. And we will not attempt to answer them in this report, but we will try to suggest how individualisation might be perceived and interpreted today, as we approach the year 2006. Theoretically it is an impossible task, so this is just one interpretation among many, with a lot of reservations and limitations. In this report we will view individualisation as the increased opportunities of the individual to influence its own life and make its own choices. Individualisation gives the modern man far greater opportunity to choose his own life and shape the world around him. Where once we followed tradi- tion, family, religion, and culture, today we now make far more choices for ourselves. At the same time, contemporary society and norms encourage ever-increasing individuality, freedom of choice, and personal responsibility. It is no longer a given that I should be a Social Democrat like my father, or take gymnastics like my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. I can choose for myself if I want to have an operation in the local hospital or at the country’s leading hospital, and which school to send my children to. I can choose my own fashion style, Burberry or H&M. I choose my own education, work, and career, and through that I choose large parts of my personality, identity, lifestyle, and the way I want others to see me. 7
  7. 7. Determining exactly what we choose and what is chosen for us by other people and the environment is of course not easy to determine, but the main thesis of this report is that although there is a large number of times where we have a choice, there are also a number of factors that limit what we can choose. We know, for instance, that each of us has unique genetic codes that give us different susceptibilities to vari- ous diseases. Likewise we know that children who were born and raised in households where the parents were well educated are much more likely to get advanced educations themselves than children from other homes. And we know many other examples of limiting factors that constrain freedom of choice. Although the basic thesis of this report is that the individual does not have full freedom of choice, it should be noted that individualisation often is portrayed in the public debate like the individual has almost complete freedom of choice and far more options than is actually the case. “Everything is optional” is the watchword. “We can choose what we like.” Since this report is an at- tempt to provide a picture of a current trend, it will inevitably reflect this contemporary and rather uncritical interpretation of individualisation to some degree. But we must point out once more that in this report we interpret individual freedom of choice as limited. The popular interpretation of free choice is nevertheless important to study, because it highlights the part the illusion about freedom of choice plays in our perception of life, opportunities, our fellow men, and not least individualisation. At the same time it must be remembered that it is usually the young, the beautiful, the successful who are the trendsetters and that therefore it is usually their ways of life and their conceptualisations that become the norm for their age. “Everybody can choose”, it is said, despite the fact that many scientific studies show that they can’t, and leave little doubt that the better the economic, physical, social, emotional, and cultural conditions of someone’s upbringing, the greater freedom of action he has. Everything else being equal it is easier for a CEO to become a taxi driver than the reverse, and that’s also the reason why the myth of freedom of choice is alive and well. There are many who have a vested interest in this particular interpretation, and so it is cheerfully perpetuated. the downside to individualisation Individualisation is often charged with being the cause of many of modern society’s negative aspects. More lonely people, greater focus on depressions, too many divorces, the need for various forms of coun- selling, and a growing indifference among people are some of the examples. It is very likely that there is a connection, but individualisation is not the sole cause of these miseries. And although these phenomena can be viewed in a negative light, they also have advantages. They can fulfil a desire for something diffe- rent, something better, and something that makes us happier. We desire more freedom, and we’re willing to pay for it with reduced security. For security usually requires that we give up some of our freedom. When we talk about individualisation, it is important to distinguish between individualisation and egoism. It’s perfectly possible to be an individualist and show compassion, devotion, and consideration for others, without basing these actions on a duty towards a community. the individualists Today individualisation has its grip on most generations. It is most pervasive among those who were born after 1970, but the younger people are, the more individualized they have become. Today’s youths were born and raised in a society, a culture, a home, and a social space where it was okay to think of yourself first. They were taught to have their own opinions, which were just as valuable as anyone else’s. They were likewise taught to examine their feelings, to examine them thoroughly, and not to do anything they didn’t feel like. You might say – for someone called April born on the first day of the fourth month– that it used to be April the first, but now it is April first. The individual has replaced the traditions – in this case a birthday. Not that our youths are the only individualists – individualisation has been around for quite a while. What’s new is that individualisation has gone from being an elitist phenomenon to being a mass phenomenon. It should also be mentioned that individualisation is quantifiable; you can be more or less individua- listic. Individualisation also gives the individual an ability to make informed assessments, to be a well-
  8. 8. informed citizen or consumer who acts on the basis of independent reasoning, rather than just follow tradition or other people. To put it a little provocatively: individualism rejects the herd mentality. Important elements of individualisation Individualisation does not appear out of the blue. Individualisation is a result of ‘many things’, just as ‘many things’ may be the results of individualisation. The importance that individualisation has today is the result of several factors: the growth of economic independence, reflection becoming the rule rather than the exception, the creation of our own identities, and choices becoming a basic condition. We have to choose. We have to choose almost everything. Tomorrow’s society, state, culture, and norms constantly tell us to make decisions, independent decisions. We absolutely have to make the difference for ourselves and for others. reflection Individualisation is a precondition of reflection. Reflection means contemplation and deliberation. Reflection is a result of enlightenment. Through enlightenment more and more people have learned to take a stand and deal independently and critically with the world around them. Through enlighten- ment we became able to see the world with new eyes and choose something other than what we might have been destined for. We became able to choose and change our own life and the world around us. In Denmark we have a high level of education for the masses. Denmark has a tradition for education and critical thinking, but even though Danes have a high level of reflection (compared to most of the world), there’s still plenty of room for improvement. In other words, we not only can, but we have an obligation to become wiser and more insightful and to broaden our horizons. The need to raise the level of reflection through education continues unabated into the future. Society wants a well-educated population that is ready for more individualisation, independence, innovation, differen- tiation, and creativity with all the concomitant economic growth. Modern man must manage his own self-actualisation. Increased education is not just education for its own sake. Education is also a source of edification. Edification that hopefully will help make people better able to take care of themselves economically, socially, and physically. Fat people must learn to become slim, and knowledgeable people how to convert their knowledge into cool cash. More individuality, personal responsibility, and reflection loom large on society’s and not least the political agenda: Greater focus on personal responsibility, more assessment of individual perfor- mances, expanded consumer influence, more individual choice, more evaluations, personal coaching, upgrades, and quid pro quo are just some of the examples. And in the service of individualisation, this reflection, education, and independence must be passed along to many foreigners who often hail from different cultures than those of the West – cultures with far less tradition for personal identity, independent action, individual reflection, and freedom of choice than we are used to. Individualisation is in a strong position in Denmark. Not in the sense that Danes are a highly diverse people – Denmark is indeed a relatively homogenous country – but in the sense that Denmark, and to some degree all of Scandinavia, boasts a high level of education among the general public, and traditionally has put a high value on critical analysis in education, thus fostering reflection and indivi- duality in large parts of the population. Denmark also has free access to practically any kind of education for everyone with the necessary qualification. This is extremely important and exceedingly vital to the entire individualisation process, just as increased economic freedom is. Few countries have an individua- lisation process as advanced as that of Denmark, and this is to a great degree due to the welfare state. economic freedom The ever-increasing wealth and the constantly growing amount of available spending money are also necessary for individualisation. If you have just enough to survive, it’s difficult to stand out, be unique, and be a lifestyle consumer. The economic boom is expected to continue, and will result in 9
  9. 9. more economic freedom and even more individual conduct in the future. The greater economic free- dom you have, the greater your opportunities are for living an independent life, a life where you can devote most of your efforts to yourself and your personal interests. Money is also a key to individuality. The more money, the more education, leisure, dresses, wine, shoes, mobile phones, club memberships, cocktails, vacations, experiences, houses, and mistresses can be acquired. And no, it’s not just rich people who can afford such luxuries; today most of us have the financial means for more individual action. We have become able to leave the husband if he is boring, lazy, or violent. We can slam the door to the manager’s office and walk away if he becomes insufferable. We can buy a new set of breasts or a smart suit if we need to be spruced up. We can move out into the countryside and live in an idyllic cot- tage if our inner artist requires it, or we just really need to go OFF. We can take courses and get smarter. Or we can flee to a tropical beach halfway around the world if we’ve had it up to here and everyone else has become a nuisance. In short, our fat salaries and secure welfare state optimise, entail, and contri- bute considerably to our opportunities for a more independent life where we don’t have to put up with nearly as much trouble as our ancestors did. ‘Freedom of choice’ Closely linked to individualisation is the concept of freedom of choice. A ‘free choice’ that may be an illusion, but nevertheless an illusion that is very much alive. We make ourselves and others believe that we make the choices and thus are able to choose between success and failure. Every one of us recogni- ses these conversations. We like to remind the neighbour of his mistakes and attribute his successes to luck and blind chance, whereas our own successes are entirely due to making the right choices. Choice and the ability to choose is a fundamental part of life today, and it will be even more so in 2016; the future presents us with many choices. In the future we won’t just choose husband, wife, or lover from the student dorm, the city, the classrooms, or the circle of friends. In the future the big cyberspace catalogues will present far better selections. When it comes to vacations, the choices are infinite, depending mostly on the crite- ria we use to select: experiences, relaxation, warm weather, fun, or price – we sort through the options and it is hard to gain a clear perspective of them all. Everything is optional and if we don’t choose, we lose. Many young people today, for instance, have trouble selecting an education. It’s hard to have to choose something that will be so fundamental to the formation of one’s identity and adult life. It’s hard to know if one is making the right choice. When and how can you know that you’ve made the right choice? The big problem with the notion of the free choice is that it is an unremitting source of stress. You can’t really choose everything on your own, and it may not even be smart to do so. If, for instance, you have a legitimate complaint about your wife, the clever listener will immediately remind you that you chose her yourself, and that you are free to make a new choice. Choice is the freedom to choose: the more choices, the more opportunities, but on the other hand, the more choices, the more mistakes you can make. With more choices comes far greater responsibility. Identity formation Identity shaping is a natural consequence of individualisation. The definition of identity is: The inner core of the individual – assuming such a thing exists. Identity can also be thought of as the “I”, a person’s conscious knowledge of himself, his existence, and his character. In recent years, however, the concept has come to also encompass the life and the outer symbols that are extensions of the inner being. The modern man is thus more involved in forming, or at least influencing, his own identity. There is consi- derable disagreement about the extent to which an individual can form his own identity. The popular notion is that you can choose your own identity more or less the way you choose your coffee, with or without sugar. More informed conceptualisations consider the identity to be a person’s inner core/perso- nality, and thus not quite as much subject to choice. But this inner core influences choice of lifestyle etc. – the things that many today regard as identity. In this article we will use a broad interpretation of the 10
  10. 10. “ in a free country means you are reponsible for your own acts. You are free to follow (and if lucky, reach) your own goals; but you are also free to fail.” Bauman, 1988 concept of identity, and include those factors that are extensions of the individual’s ‘I’ – in other words, the exterior, such as clothes, experiences, work, symbols, etc. When talking about identity formation, it is important to distinguish between your identity and the role you play in a certain context; the two concepts are not identical. Roles are far more superficial and changeable than identity. To form your own identity and to play with identities is part of modern youth culture. Young people ‘play’ with identities and put their identities at risk in order to figure out who they are and what identity aspects fit them best. This game of identity begins earlier and earlier. Today’s children define for themselves who they are and what they need, and they seek through play, social interac- tion, style of clothes, and interests to present to their surroundings an image of who they are and who they are not. Parents and society tend to encourage such identity testing, and the children play along. Children like to emulate adults, and children see adults change lifestyle, symbols, attitudes, and va- lues, and also see adults constantly redefining themselves and their boundaries to their surroundings. “I choose to spend time with nature,” “I don’t want stress in my life,” I am not like others,” “we don’t allow candy in our house,” “I prefer good quality clothes”... Children absorb the words and the signals, and they catch on at an earlier and earlier age to the multitude of lifestyle codes, social interaction patterns, and symbols that concern identity and its boundaries. But children merely play with identi- ties, and they do it fairly unreflexively. But sooner than ever, children become teenagers, with a very different attitude. Teenagers constantly test, absorb images, analyse, discuss, emulate, outline, and caricaturise identities, hoping to find the outward show that best expresses their “self” and best cor- respond to their inner core. Identity forming is a process that probably never ends, but in time it does establish an increasing number of identity facets. An important basis for being able to talk about identity formation is the many choices we must make. There are many options to choose between, many things to try out or do differently or in different places, and through those choices our personality becomes more and more distinguishable from that of anyone else. Even today it is difficult to find people with whom one has a great deal in common, and it will become even more difficult in the future. Very few people choose the same route through life as you do; hence it makes sense to speak of identity shaping. Our choices are not, of course, entirely free, but despite that the possibilities are abundant. Work, education, mentality, prio- rities, values, leisure time, activities, friends, and acquaintances are some of the more basic choices we have to make according to the available possibilities. Such choices are fundamental and crucial; they provide identity, material for personality, and spice for character. In addition to these fundamental choices are other, more superficial choices that often are dictated by the fundamental ones. Choice of address, interior decoration, clothing style, vacation preferences, lifestyle magazines, music, and sym- bols contribute to show our personal brand of self and personality to the world around us. Shaped by our identity we choose, just as our choices shape our identity. Individualisation towards 2016 In the future we will be joined by more generations that have been raised to believe in individuality, while the old, more community-oriented generations will fade away. In the future the collective and the community must stage a constant election campaign, in a world where individualisation have made choice an aspect of social activity. We might as well get used to it: “Everything is optional”, and there will be a lot more choices in the future – and a lot more communities. Freedom of choice means that we have to learn to take responsibility for our own lives. And freedom of choice will give us the opportu- nity to plan our lives so that it best matches our personal genome, needs, desires, environment, habitus, and potential. It thus has the potential to give people the best possible personally satisfying life. 11
  11. 11. “You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favourite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my brand or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest chal- lenge. Take the time to write your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.” http// In 2016 we will choose our own life, or to put it in slightly less absolute terms, we will have considera- bly greater influence on our own life than ever before. We have much greater influence on whether or not we want to be happy, beautiful, well educated, decent, youthful, good parents, and, not the least, healthy. According to the World Health Organisation, 70 percent of all diseases in 2015 will be lifestyle diseases, i.e. diseases that could be prevented by choosing another lifestyle. 70 percent means that seven times out of ten when you call in sick at work, it’s your own fault! It’s no longer any secret that cardiovascular problems, overweight, the common cold, sports injuries, and other everyday ailments are avoidable. You’re the one who chose to smoke; you don’t have to. And if you can’t give up smoking on your own, you can get help. The government or some organisation is always ready to offer free guidance and support to everyone. They can make the choice easy for you, while you make the choice freely. Even the common cold? Sure, there’s always the risk of infection, but carrots, a good night’s sleep, lack of stress, and cool bedrooms full of fresh air will reduce the risk significantly. “Didn’t you know? If you’re fit, the contagion can’t get a grip on you.” When, in the future, you can almost choose your own health, then the ability to choose correctly and to use self-discipline becomes even more important for your career. For if you’re not in control and if you can’t master your ‘flaws’, defects, bad habits, or perhaps even a substance abuse problem, how can we be sure that you can manage anything else? If you can’t cut down on your 15 daily cups of coffee or go to bed at a decent hour, then you lack resolve and self-control! What you choose is what people see in you. The more we have to choose, the more the ability to choose wisely becomes a success criterion. With more individual responsibility and ‘shaping your own destiny’, things will be quite different in the future. When we get greater influence on our state of health and greater responsibility for it, we will live healthier lives – probably much healthier. Calorie tables, herbal tea, vegetables, ecological pro- ducts, and medication will contribute to this, just as information, support, and demanding consumers will. But given all this responsibility we like to call in experts. We want coaching, support, information, advise, or even a miracle; but might have to settle with what the people in our lives can give us. Self-reflection is a ‘necessary evil’ In 2016 it’s not just a health coach we need, because we need a lot of coaching: career coach, sports coach, education coach, lifestyle coach, or anything-at-all coach. The need for help goes beyond the superficial matters. With the individual being the primary centre of rotation, we’re far more vulnerable than we used to be. Orson Welles said that we’re born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. ‘Being alone’ is a condition that we’re being forced to accept, and even more so in the future. When we’re alone, we also bear the responsibility alone, which can lead to a crisis. The modern crisis does not hit us as a group but as individuals, and because it concerns me and me alone, it is more difficult to deal with and process. Crises have become a normal part of modern life; we all have our own crises. The modern crisis and the right to have one is one of the reasons why third-generation antidepressants are such a success. By 2016 we may all have crisis days allotted at our place of work because we all know that there’s a good chance that one will hit us sooner or later. A crisis comes when we make a wrong choice or don’t live up to our own – or other people’s – expectations of abilities and potentials. A crisis strikes when the meaning disappears. Of course a crisis can also be caused by external events, but by far the most personality crises today come from within. In an age where ‘I’ am so important to my personal life, and other people matters less, it is to be expected that the self is more fragile. The “I” is also my 12
  12. 12. key to interaction with other people, so handling that aspect of the “I” have also become much more important. In the future there will be even more focus on the individual, the self and the “I”, with a consequential greater need for self-awareness. More and more people want to better themselves, not just on the physical and intellectual levels, but also on the psychological. The market for psychothera- pists, psychiatrics, psychologists, self-improvement books, life-coaching seminars, and everything else that can help an individual achieve greater personal understanding and self-acceptance is a market in constant growth. It’s a market that won’t just be visited by those with a real need, but by all of us. The man of the future needs greater insight and a strong, reflective self-worth. Individualisation’s new products Individualisation also offers many new solid and material changes, needs, products, and possibili- ties during the next 10, 20, 30 years. It won’t be many years before credit cards, access codes, and keys can be replaced by eye scanners or fingerprint readers, thus utilizing our bodies as an active and secure tool in tomorrow’s society. In the future we’ll go to a tailor and have our clothes made to measure. Or we go to the showrooms of the fashion houses and select model, fabric, adornments, and icons adapted to our bodily measurements and personal lifestyle: the finished product is delivered by messenger a week later. We’ll hire architects to draw our house; we want it to be personal to us, special, hinting at our happy outlook on life. We will appreciate one-off products and spend golden Euros on our private dining service, paintings, cars, or luxury boats. We’ll hire authors to write our autobiography and painters to immortalise our complex personality. The biochemist, politically active woman with strong interests in design, perfumes and sports needs to be entertained, updated, and challenged right now. We’ll hire private tutors and appreciate personal skills. In the future, being able to do something will be cool, awesome, inspiring, essential, and grant a huge amount of status. Pre- ferably being able to do something the others can’t. Porcelain painter, milliner, door handle designer, seafood gastronomist, apricot farmer, night diver, Shakespeare authority, tool maker, lithographic artist specialising in labels for homemade preserve jars, poet for hire... anything is possible! And with the numerous and precise measuring techniques, decoders, environmental monitoring instruments, and genetic profiles, it will be easy to find our very best talent before we select an art form, a craft, or the dream of becoming a self-taught Renaissance man. Hence we can really become very good. The Christmas bazaars of the future will be substantially different from those we know today. In the future talents will be used to the full. Finally, let’s not forget what may be the most important message of this report: There are times when we simply can’t stand any more individuality and any more choices. Or maybe don’t have the money for it. So we’ll choose package solutions, mainstream, mass-produced, simple, easy, and maybe even cheap. There will be a huge need for simple solutions, pre-made choices, and ways to reduce complexity in the future. Six more examples On the following pages are six more examples of how individualisation will manifest itself towards 2016: 1. Me and my lifestyle 2. My personal genome 3. Me and my God 4. I am a Yeppie 5. Me and conflict 6. Me and freedom 13
  13. 13. 1 me and my lifestyle
  14. 14. me and my lifestyle “I hate your herd mentality, Today lifestyles may be thought of as genres. Just as movie directors can your way/of shopping, the choose among the comedy, the love story, the thriller, or the horror movie, things you say when you oh we – the directors of our own lives – can choose among a large selection of so coincidentally meet/on lifestyles. Through this choice we create the framework for our self and our the street after the latest christening (...) What you conduct, but tear it down again when it no longer support the story about us. fear, is not having enough (...) If we examine ordinary daily life, consumption, and lifestyles, it is not enough loos, not enough evident that this is becoming an important part of identity formation. cars, not enough prestige/ Media, specialist shops, and department stores stand ready with a string not enough ads, not enough of products, finished and unfinished brands that we can piece together to silicone tits (...) I prefer become our very own story about our identity. When we no longer have prison to living like you. /You the traditional communities to rely on, we ourselves have to define who went back to church, but you don’t really believe/ (...) we are. The method is called consumption, and the selection is vast. From You gather to celebrate, with clothes, music, politics, and daily goods to the places you go, the subjects nothing to say to each other. you interest yourself in, education, or the place you live. There is ‘freedom /I will not emulate you on a of choice’ on all shelves. The important thing is that the products we Sunday. /I will just write one choose reflect the ‘real me’. hard-boiled poem/for the ‘Lifestyle through consumption’ may sound a bit hollow, because it silence you filled with your commonly is associated with shallow ‘use-and-discard’ culture, but it’s lifestyle/I never shall hear of again from the ads that you really far more fundamental. Today consumption is no longer just a que- fund. stion of staying warm and getting enough to eat. It is an identity marker, a system of ethics – a reflexive way of living life that demonstrates the Anti livsstil (Anti lifestyle) – from Thomas Boberg’s collection of poems Livsstil difference between me and everybody else. At the same time, choice of (Lifestyle) – 2005 lifestyle is a way to guide us through the many choices that existence pre- sents us with. A specific lifestyle makes it easier to choose, because certain kinds of choices fall outside the limits of that lifestyle. Coffee isn’t just coffee “A difference to be felt” it says on the Max Havelaar coffee bag. Hence, if you choose to buy Max Havelaar coffee instead of the cheaper and less ‘politically correct’ coffee, it’s a conscious act that reflects awareness of consumer patterns and their consequences for people in other countries. To do something significant is Modern Man’s dream. “I make my own choices”; the responsibility is mine: hence to be successful I must make a difference. And since we can’t all be globally comitted experts on social equality, the decision to buy Max Havelaar also expresses confidence in expert knowledge about the conditions of Colombian coffee farmers. As we get more and more involved with the product we buy, we also buy an extra dimension – something beyond the purely material. It’s no longer just about coffee and what enjoyment it gives you; it’s about who you are: A conscientious human being with enough spare energy to think about the world. Global social inequality has acquired a taste. And on 16
  15. 15. top of that you may have bought it in a specialty shop instead of at the “A lifestyle can be defined supermarket, the very symbol of mass culture and unreflective consumer as a more or less integrated mentality. You don’t just shop; you shop individually, reflectively, and set of practices which an individual embraces, not only locally, because you need to send that message. And last, but not least, because such practices fulfil obviously you put the bag out on the table when your friends come over utalitarian needs, but be- for coffee, so that you can receive due recognition. cause they give material form to a particular narrative of self-identity.... Lifestyles are a smoke is not just a smoke routined practices, the rou- A good cup of coffee deserves a good smoke – right? “Smoking is harmful tines incorporated into habits to you and your surroundings.” The reflexive Max Havelaar customer of dress, eating, modes of knows that. It’s politically incorrect to smoke. Being politically incor- acting and favoured milieux rect is another way of self-staging. After all, political correctness implies for encountering others; but someone preaching on behalf of others, and that doesn’t really fit well the routines followed are with the notion of individual freedom, does it? And you might say that reflexively open to change in the light of the mobile nature smoking is the ultimate individual choice, since you’re really choosing to of self-identity.” say: “Okay, I know that smoking kills, but it’s my life!” Anthony Giddens: Modernity and Self- identity – 1991 role-playing It’s also possible to adapt the role to the situation. The college professor acts different when dealing with his students, talking to his colleagues, visiting his dear old mother out in the countryside, and meeting the guys at soccer. That way you’re not restricted to a single role, but are able to encompass multiple roles in one and the same identity. The trick is to play the role and not let the role play you. To know and realise that there are other possibilities, but that you have chosen to play this role in this situation. Good acting is when the actor and the role becomes one. And it’s even better when the actor is capable of doing it with an array of different roles and genres. Consumption is already the primary identity marker and is becoming the foundation for the self, and this trend will continue to grow even stronger in the future. Identity – or at least what we perceive as identity – has become an aspect of consumption or maybe just a by-product of consumption. You consume in order to express your identity, or possibly to express the identity you wish for. Like consumer goods, identities are acquired and owned, only to be consumed and vanish again. We are under constant development. As part of this trend we hear slogans like “You become what you eat” and “You are what you listen to” and watch the television show “The Sixth Sense”, where lifestyle experts guess the identity of a person based on such things as what everyday products, like coffee and cigarettes, they use. But how individual are you, if you are so predictable? Then again, it might be argued that you combine a number of different roles into a coherent story, which is constantly changed and adapted. For it is important to remember that you’re always free to say no and do something else. You smoke cigarettes today; chew gum tomorrow – or drink coffee today, tea tomorrow. You point the horse in another di- rection and saddle up again. Like Lucky Luke of the cartoons, a lonesome cowboy, completely his own master, and faster than his own shadow. 17
  16. 16. 2 my personal genome
  17. 17. my personal genome “In Denmark, genetic re- Individualisation by genetic engineering is right around the corner. With search may not be done on the mapping of the entire human DNA, scientists predict that the instruc- embryos or human gametes, tion manual to your personal genetic profile will be available within a and the Ethical Council is decade or two. Once the scientists have an easy and fast method to map sharply against ‘designer ba- bies’. As yet there is no law every human being’s personal genetic profile (genome), we’ll experience a against expressional gene revolution in our daily life, in society, and in what we perceive as “a human therapy.” being”. The combating of disease, nutritional advice, choice of education, crime prevention issues, the insurance business, and not the least our ?content= choice of partners - all this will very likely work according to quite different campus/nyheder/Etikken_udfordrer_gene- tikken.htm principles in the future. After all, if we know the answers at birth, we’ll choose the easiest and most favourable solution, won’t we? Further acceleration of individualisation When everybody receives his or her personal genetic profile attached to a social security card, which by 2016 is called a ‘health information key’, our healthcare and disease treatment regimen will change dramatically. If we know from birth (or even before) what ailments we are predisposed for, and what health-related precautions we ought to incorporate in our daily life, we’ll obviously learn new habits. If we know that we are particularly susceptible to breast cancer, we can avoid everything that science believes may cause breast cancer, just like following any other personal advice about disease prevention. When we know our genetic profile and can identify risks of obesity, depression, or narcolepsy we can organise our eating and exercise habits, indeed our entire way of life, in accordance. So when Kim and Karen look for love in one of the popular dating sites of the age, their genetic profiles are included in the match-making routine. With genetic matchmaking you can perform a ‘safe’ selection and make sure the couple does not have incompatible DNA profiles. This is important, particularly in connection with reproduction. After all, the loving couple should be able to have the children they want with each other, and while they’re ensuring this, they may as well make sure that the interaction of their genetic codes doesn’t increase the risk of heritable defects or other ‘unfortunate features’. Darwinism extended. When stored in large database systems, the authorities can use our DNA profiles. With advanced programs they can monitor the database, and if a dangerous virus with the potential to infect certain individuals or cause allergic reactions in some people ap- pear, they can be individually notified. Likewise a database of our profiles will be very useful for research purposes, and there will be a lot more research done in the decades to come. 20
  18. 18. Self-invention and the ‘natural’ human being “Serious professional The personal genetic profile will also shift all former boundaries for ‘inven- athletes cannot do their job ting oneself’. After we find our personal genetic code, gene manipulation is without extensive physiologi- cal and medical supervision. the obvious next step. You might, for instance, insert a gene that produces To practice a sport at the top a growth hormone in certain parts of your body, making muscles grow, level for any length of time thus improving your personal athletic abilities, or getting the firm buttocks without being medicated or great upper arm muscles you desire. In the future it will also be possible is actually harmful to the to strengthen your immune system, we will be able to do cosmetic surgery sportsman”. without weeks of pain and risks of complication, and to improve intellect Weekendavisen, July 29th 2005, and concentration without suffering the side effects of coffee and medicine. Section 1, page 10 The personal genetic profile will also do away with ‘natural’ in the sense of ‘average’. What is ‘natural’ for an individual will depend on the genetic disposition. The personal genetic profile will thus necessitate a re-evaluation of the current ethical guidelines, born of the principles of not altering what is natural and only do what is necessary to help those below average. my own private medicine In the future, the personal genetic profile will also lead to individually tailored drugs. More individually tailored medicine will make it easier to ensure correct dosages and avoid substances that provoke allergic reactions and other unfortunate side effects. In the future each individual customer will be able to get exactly the skin lotion they need, without ingredient X to which they are allergic, but with added ingredient Y, which adds the extra moisture that is important to them. Personal risk assessment The procedure for taking out insurance will also change in the future. Today some insurance companies in the US force you to take a gene scan if you want to take out a life insurance with a high payoff. This is not legal in Den- mark, but it is probably only a matter of time before it becomes legal here too. Even today most insurance companies ask about hereditary diseases in the family. The answers to such questions can affect insurance premiums, but gene scans would provide more exact information and possibly save some people some money. For instance, statistically only one out of a four siblings would inherit cystic fibrosis. But without a gene test you don’t know who the unlucky siblings are. Gene scans enable us to identify diseases even before the sick person is born. Furthermore, a CV of the future might in- clude information about genetic potential in various abilities and thus what jobs we will be good at. Gene data of employees and potential employees can also extend the scope for socioeconomic calculations of profit and loss. This will raise questions about the individual’s right to know or not to know, and about the right to know the genetic profile of other people. 21
  19. 19. 3 me and my god
  20. 20. me and my god “I have chosen divorce, since It has already been a long time since Marx proclaimed religion to be the marriage did not make me opium of the people and Nietzsche pronounced God dead. The Modern happy.” “My boss did not World saw the light of day, and since then religion has been under constant notice my real potential, so pressure in the West. Today the dominant role of religion is played out I chose to get a job from his – but individualisation has made a new role available. competitor.” The individualised person is not basically of a religious disposition, and Unknown it is difficult to find any resemblance between the religious people of tradi- tion – rule-bound, self-effacing, orientated towards the transcendent – and the individualised person – a free, self-actualising loner. For religion is traditionally a group endeavour. Indeed, the community is central to many religions, including the two big ones: Christianity and Islam. This applies both to their historical development and their perception of man. The reli- gious person is part of a ‘we’, and the most important function of this ‘we’ is to make sure that God’s – or some other higher purpose’s – plan is carried out. There’s a reason for living according to certain precepts, refraining from eating at certain times, and performing certain deeds, and that reason transcends the individual. To base your whole life on a goal or a truth espoused by the community is not something an individualist would favour, which is why many people today pass up religion. I still find religion meaningful in 2006 Religious people still exist in our Age of Individualisation. But religion isn’t dead. It’s just that you’re religious in your own, individual way. Despite the increased individualisation in the world today, there are still religious spaces, precepts, deeds, and communities, but they’ve changed, and the individual use them in a more free and self-assured way – creating his own personal version. If I want to be a Christian who believes in reincarnation, then that’s what I’ll be. Like every other individual in this modern era, the religious individual wants to stand out, and hence religion is practiced and performed in a multitude of different ways. You meet on the internet instead of in church, you have your personal holy places, you don’t have rigid rituals. You turn to religion when you need it and when it fits into your schedule; there is no obligation. Religion has a new role: It helps satisfy our personal emotional needs, and has become one among many things to choose from when we create our own lives. Whatever happens in the individualist’s life must be a result of his own choices. How he made the choice is less important. The phrase “I have decided to...” has become a common prelude to state- ments that would work perfectly well without it. People want to emphasise that they are individuals who act according to personal choices. It is crucial 24
  21. 21. that the individual is personally involved in everything he does, because he Ethos: The epitome of a is motivated by a cognitive image of a joyful life, achieved by making the human being’s collected right choices. Just what choices are the right ones is a personal matter. In a experience, situational awareness, empathy, and way the individual has become his own god. When the ‘I’ is the hub around magnanimity, that it is his which all choices revolve, and the individual is defining his own reality and duty to develop throughout meaning - and is only responsible to himself – the comparison is not unwar- his life by constantly de- ranted. At the risk of confusing individualism with egoism and rituals with ciding what is good.” staging, one might even say that the individualised person worships himself Kirkeby, 1999 as an individual and directs all actions towards fulfilling the potential of the self; much like worshipping a deity. The difference is, of course, that it is the deity, which adds something to the life of the worshipper – a ‘meaning of life’. The devout person is guided by ethics that someone else provides and which bids him think and act on the basis of something other than himself. This means that when the individual becomes his own god, he find himself lacking direction. Using himself as his guiding light, it is the equivalent of using a compass without a needle. The individualised person is his own navigator and must hence be prepared to create his own ethos; ultimately all individuals will have their own ethical system and perception of society. The individual has to furnish the world with meaning himself. Basically the world is without meaning until a choice is made, and in principle that makes any initial choice as good as any other. The choice of summer school and outdoor kitchen could be just as important as the choice of life partner or education, since they all open up possible paths to success as an individual. To push it to extremes, the choices made by the modern individual are poetic strategies (supplied in bulk by the media-created reality) rather than cultural or moral choices based on deep convictions. Seen in that light, the individual appears as someone who – in a desperate search for meaning – makes more and more choices without realising that it is the too many choices that make his life meaningless. One common response among indi- vidualists who have gotten fed up with choices is to pull out the plug and move away, but the ultimate result of individualisation may well be a return to community values and the Universal Story, leading to a renaissance of traditional religion. 25
  22. 22. 4 I am a yeppie
  23. 23. I am a yeppie The Peter Pan Syndrome Today we consume lovers, wives, husbands, friends, education, work, and is a pop psychology term lifestyle. There is talk of ‘the Yeppie generation’. first seen in connection In the industrial society the citizen was perceived as a producer. You with the psychologist Dan earned your place in the economic and social structure by creating wealth. Kiley’s book The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men who have You contributed to the creation of wealth by producing tangible products. never grown up from 1983. In today’s knowledge and dream society things are different: Today we’re The syndrome obviously all consumers. Whenever there’s the slightest economic crisis, we’re told to refers to J.M. Barrie’s clas- consume more. It’s our patriotic duty to spend more money. More money sic novel from 1904, Peter is needed to create more jobs – to keep the wheels turning. However, it’s no Pan, subtitled The boy who longer just a question of eating more and better, having the shiniest BO refused to grow up. It tells sound system, or having a BMW in the garage. Money equals happiness the story of the boy Peter Pan who teaches Wendy and – that was the creed of the Yuppies. But when money is not enough, you her brothers to fly and takes must work towards happiness all the time, which is why consumption has them to the magical fantasy penetrated practically every sphere of social life. realm of Neverland (a name Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers (Yeppies) is the term for the also chosen by Michael generation that has made consumption a way of life. They shop for lovers, Jackson for his private work, accommodation, and friends in the quest for the perfect life, and they amusement park) where The defer all the big life decisions, like marriage, children, and steady work, Lost Boys, Tiger Lily, and the evil Captain Hook await. until they’ve exhausted every possibility; their lives absolutely must be per- fect. Instead of one predictable life story with the risk that it may turn out to be a failure, why not hedge your bets? If your life has several stories, the failure of a single story doesn’t matter much. And there are lots of stories to choose from. The possibilities inherent in the internet dating scene posi- tively encourages serial monogamy, and the opportunities to stage yourself through your consumption are countless. As the sociologist Zygmunt Bau- man ironically remarks, today it has become a bad thing to be satisfied with what you already have and thus settle for less than what you can get. Life is a contest, and whoever winds up having the most experiences, acquaintan- ces, lovers, jobs, and objects has won. the Peter Pan Syndrome is upon us The Peter Pan Syndrome is a psychoanalytical term for men who are afraid of commitment, and they were prevalent in the Yuppie culture of the 1980s. The main concern of the Yuppies was to amass money, because money translated into Lacoste, BMW etc. – in short, into status. Anything that stood in the way of accumulating yet more money was neglected, which often meant that family, children, and friends came second. Today we’ve reached a level of affluence, which ensures that most of us can keep up regardless. If not, then a loan is the answer. The credit card is mightier than the piggybank. This means that money no longer has the same status as experiences, so we amass experiences instead of money in our quest 2
  24. 24. for happiness. But when do you know that you’ve hit the jackpot – that it “Under postmodern condi- can’t get any better? The answer is: never. We can never know if the grass tions, where the uplifting is greener on the other side, so we just have to peek. We defer the big de- experience of unending new needs, rather than the cisions and collect another experience, for what if this isn’t the real thing? satisfaction of the current Even though most people wants tings like a wife or husband, children, and ones, becomes the primary a house in the countryside, they don’t do anything about it because they goal for a happy life (and don’t know when it’s the right time. And a big decision like that would where the production of new mean that whey must give up their childlike life of searching and explo- temptations becomes the ring. Several studies show that it is no longer the traditional 18 or 21 years main driving force for social of age that marks the transition to adulthood, but 30. Childhood must be integration and peaceful co- exsistence), the nanny state, extended as far as possible. Try everything, constantly renew yourself and which is geared to define look at the world with fresh eyes. And we’re constantly being exhorted to and rewrite the needs of its do so by the media, lifestyle magazines, advertisements, and in assorted citizens, can’t compete with reality shows, where we watch stories about people who change partners, the systems governed by the friends, family, noses, breasts, and even their sex. You’re free, so make a consumer market.” choice – if you don’t, you’ll be voted out of a society where the myth about Bauman, 1991 Peter Pan is part of the greatest story being told in modern marketing: the dream about everlasting youth – or eternal life. When one of the greatest pop icons of our age loses his nose in the attempt to hang on to his youth and beauty, then the icon is neither man nor boy, but a universal picture of how bad the search for eternal youth can turn out. Lifestyle shopping is no different from ordinary shopping: Getting a bargain requires deliberation, reflection, preparation, and comparison of products and prices; otherwise you end up a slave to fashion rather than the other way around. You have to realise that before you turn 40, and find out that you are not Peter Pan. the dream about Scrooge mcduck Scrooge McDuck – from the Donald Duck comic books – who comes to the city of Duckburg, and builds a business empire, is still around, but he has become unfashionable. His is the story about stable well-known society, strength of character, order, method, and the establishment and its depen- dable antagonist. The world may not be quite what it should be, but it can be fixed with enough industry, honesty, steadiness, loyalty, even-handed- ness, objectivity, and precision. This is probably what the Yeppies dream about, but until they achieve it, they are just hard-working consumers. This is the paradox of the society where the citizen has become a consumer: To always be on the way is not just a characteristic of the modern world; it has become a standard for normality and is becoming the norm: If you’re not heading somewhere, then you’re on your way down; you are experi- encing a crisis. And you can only get over this crisis by consuming even more. It’s not about what you can do for your country or for other people, but what you can do for your own salvation. You must also stay young, because being young means under development, and still moving. Unfortu- nately, the goal of reaching perfection is impossible. As artist Salvador Dali put it: “Have no fear of perfection - you’ll never reach it.” Yeppie, you have been warned...! 29
  25. 25. 5 me and conflict
  26. 26. me and conflict Conflict resolution is a hot topic. Individualists must be able to function in the community. we used to be an army, now we’re an orchestra One possible arena for conflict is the workplace. Today’s work life has become individualised, with some work done at home, flexible working hours, specialisation, and freelance work. In this environment, conflicts between the individual and the community are more likely to occur. Un- like the industrial society, where many workers had to perform identical manual tasks, the modern ‘individualised’ company requires that diffe- rent employees with different competences work together with a mutual understanding of goal, values, and strategies. We used to be an army, now we’re an orchestra. But the greater level of specialisation and individuali- sation also means that co-workers often perceive the world differently and have different methods, wants, and needs. Individualisation of employees and tasks must hence be planned right down to the core of the company’s organisation, lest the company waste resources, and time is lost in internal division, strife, and factionalism. In 2006, and even more so in 2016, people no longer go to work just to make money. Self-actualisation, education, and the development of personal identity and competences are also important features of work life. Hence there are many personal interests at stake in the modern workplace. Individualists who must work together will always be a volatile mixture, and sooner or later that will lead to conflict. And although the individua- lised employee has become an important part of the company’s strategy, it is still only part of the overall strategy. The goods must be delivered, the joint effort has to work out, the budget must be kept, and the profit must be earned, regardless of how individualised the employees think they are. Conflicts are often about different interpretations and views of the indivi- dual and the society. The modern worker interprets, analyses, and reflects individually, and that can easily lead to disagreement, for who made the best interpretation or analysis? The modern company no longer has hierar- chies, rules, and dictatorial managers who make the decisions and dictate the solution. Today’s modern companies have flat structures and very spe- cialised and independent employees. Conflict resolution should hence also be democratised and management should be aware of what understanding, opinions, experiences, and interpretations the employees have concerning the conflict in question. Today conflict resolution is a democratic process where almost every opinion is valid. That’s why everybody – including you – has some responsibility for resolving any conflict. 32
  27. 27. go for the ball, not the man “My goal, as a personal Modern work life is a large part of people’s personal identities. Hence it can coach, is to help you be fully be difficult to separate work conflicts from personal conflicts. The crux of a Who You Are. I use capital letters for “Who You Are,” disagreement or conflict can easily change into something quite different. because I believe each and A conflict with other people, be it private or work-related, can be difficult to every one of us has more deal with, because it easily becomes personal, and because we mostly define to offer than we are aware our identity through our relationships with other people. We shape our of. As a “create-your-life” identity not just by cooperation, but also by competition and conflict. If the coach, my job is to act as a role we play in an ongoing conflict becomes part of our identity, we lose the catalyst, offering new, more ability to deal with the conflict objectively, and it becomes very personal. self-expanding perspectives, supporting you to take ap- To achieve optimal conflict resolution, it is important to provide space for propriate but powerful new everybody to express his or her position, frustrations, and visions. Everyone actions and help you stay can then make their own conclusions based on facts rather than assump- accountable to your Best tions. By expressing your own thoughts and emotions, and not what you Self and to your Best Life.” think about your opponent, you are able to open up a dialogue. Reproach, Introductory text from the home page purely subjective interpretations, interruptions, and leading questions simp- Personal coach – ly escalate the conflict. The more personal the conflict appears, the more it acquires overtones of loss of honour, identity, and social position. The ability to resolve conflicts is a desirable qualification to have in tomorrow’s society, but it’s not all that is required to solve conflicts. Conflict resolution requires ground rules for the conflict solving process that eve- ryone knows and is comfortable with. Such rules can include anything from smoking policy to the handling of confidential information. dialogue may help resolve conflicts One of the best tools for conflict resolution we have today is language. Lan- guage enables us to reflect on our own attitudes and acknowledge those of others, without necessarily accepting them. In a conflict resolution process you use dialogue to explore ideas that makes sense to those involved in the conflict, and focus on those that all parties can agree on. It is through dialogue that entrenched positions in a conflict may be softened up. It is hence important to take the ‘detour’ around dialogue instead of proceeding directly to a solution. Prejudices and sayings like “the chemistry is wrong”, “we don’t speak the same language”, or “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” portray our relationships with other people as something unal- terable, almost as governed by invariable physical laws. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s perfectly feasible to resolve conflicts and quite possible to foster understanding between people. The most important ingredient is the will to resolve the conflict. Conflicts should not be perceived as all bad. The dialogue and discussion about the conflict contribute to the shared history – the shared values. Individual differences, perceptions, and talking about them are important to community development. The process of culti- vating individual diversity begins with acceptance. Conflict resolution is not a question of getting people to obey orders and toe the line. It’s a question of demonstrating trust, approval, and acceptance of the different needs that the participants in the conflict may have. 33
  28. 28. 6 me and freedom
  29. 29. me and freedom “I was brought up in an I like to be left alone every once in a while. I get tired of justifying all my old-fashioned way: I’m half actions. I appreciate time for reflection, and away from the abundance of a person when I’m alone, modern society. Please allow me to be ugly, imperfect, and sing noisily if and whole when we are two. I feel like it. I don’t want to show any more consideration. Why do I have I think that many people are like that, even today.” to get inside, if it’s cooler and more challenging to be outside? I’m tired of consensus. Unsatisfying compromises and saying what people want to Magrethe II of Denmark hear. I don’t want “plain” white walls when I can have them painted blue. Why do we always have to agree? Let me experience the freedom of going out into the world alone, without directions and goal, not knowing who I’m going to meet there. alone and happy The collective has always been considered an ideal form of commu- nity, and still is. Even in an age of individualisation the community is constantly being romanticised. It’s good to have friends, family, good col- leagues, to show solidarity, to go to parties and to have discussions. But no matter how many advantages the community has, the alternative is there, too. And, truth be told, just how happy are many of those communities around us really? Husbands and wives fighting, children bullying other children, power struggles, lack of loyalty, repression, and prejudice are always latent in the ‘idyllic community’. And who says that the alterna- tive can’t be preferable to the community - for some people, or maybe for some people some of the time? And there is an alternative. An alternative that individualisation and a complex and stressful world don’t make any less attractive. Thankfully individualisation also makes it easier to be individual, independent, and different and do things alone. Do things that others might not think of. Today our interests frequently differ from those of our lover, family, or friends, which mean that we might have to go alone to lectures, opera, or kickboxing. The individualised modern man is also far more complex than he was last year. The increased level of education, the constant flow of information, and the individual paths our life journeys take makes us all more distinctive, an enriching distinctiveness, though it requires strength. In order for someone to realise his potential, he must have the strength and the will to dare – dare in spite of difficulties. More and more people have the will and more and more people dare, and hence the future will present us with more destinies, characters, furies, bon vivants, bohemians, eccentrics, and other unusual types. Strong personalities who win and lose, brave perils and risk all, because although their strong indi- vidual choices makes them more exposed, it also gives them a chance to win the jackpot. It is by no means all of us who will live the life of a loner. 36
  30. 30. Most people will not, but there will be more unusual people in the future. “Many women marry be- The individualist will not be alone in having a greater need for time cause they’re tired of being to be alone in the future. We will all have more need for peace and con- alone. And many women get divorced because they’re templation - for time to be completely ourselves. There has to be space tired of being alone.” and opportunity for me to be alone and reach my limits. Hanne Wieder Singles – an alluring lifestyle Individualisation has turned the spotlight on the single life. It has suddenly “Solitude has the great become popular. People living alone or engaging in solitary pursuits used advantage that you can stop to cause a certain amount of disapproval and concern, but today is seen as running from yourself.” a perfectly normal way of living. Is has become acceptable to be single, to Marcel Proust enjoy being single and to stay single, if that is what is best for you. Today single life is something that must be tried out, a part of growing up. Living alone and taking care of everything yourself, gives strength of character and insight. Those young people who’ve never tried to ‘stand on their own two feet’ are subjects of pity. Is it even possible to truly be an individual; is it possible to know your inner self, if you’ve never tried to be on your own? Today it is considered healthy if you can be alone with yourself. The single life has hence become a part of youth culture, something you have to experience in order to be ready for the nu- clear family, that nuclear family that still – despite the allure of the single life – is the ideal for most people. But being alone can be an ideal too, and in the future it will most li- kely become an ideal for more people. Not necessarily as an alternative to being in a community, but in conjunction with it. The more alone we are, and the more individual our lives become, the more likely it will be that people will get together to engage in ‘solitude’ and get the best of both worlds. In the future we’ll occasionally go to the movies alone, because we each have our own special taste in movies. We might have to go on vacation alone, if we want adventure rather than security. We’ll have our own personal office where we can work in peace. We’ll have individual friendships rather than groups of friends. We’ll go for solitary walks to enjoy the silence. We’ll have relationships with people who are our total opposite. We’ll have separate economy, phone, and last will, because we don’t want to be owned by anyone. And we choose love, friendship and community because it holds value for us, not because we are afraid to be alone. But if your values are total self-actualisation, space, silence, and freedom, you might not need other people in your daily life. 37
  31. 31. mu nity com Members’ Report #4/2005 Between individualisation and community Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies Instituttet for Fremtidsforskning
  32. 32. Introduction One the one hand there’s no shortage of examples of modern communities that flourish. On the other hand there’s no doubt that we’re all becoming more distinct and individual. Modern communi- ties and individualisation exist side by side. Modern communities exist – and they’re proliferating We need communities in 2006, and we will still need them in 2016. Modern man desires association, recognition, affection, and conversation with other people. We only exist in the relation to our fellow men, and hence modern communities thrive in their new form. Modern individualists are perfectly happy to belong to communities, but they want to choose for themselves which communities they become part of and contribute to. Being able to choose our communities for ourselves is radically different from conditions in earlier times, and communities will hence have a different nature in the future; they will be more short-lived but more intense while they last. People choose the communities that give them meaning. When a community stops giving meaning to them, they leave again. Future communities will frequently be more focused on the activity that defines them. We’ll be creating something together. There are many examples of flourishing modern communities. Many people haven’t noticed, but they are there. You might think that solidarity, concern for your fellow man, and community belong to an earlier century, but that is not true. There are many modern communities, and new kinds of communities appear all the time. Cyberspace provides amazing opportunities for communication and community. Modern men are dependent on e-mail, and they go to meetings in a huge number of virtual communities. SMS is an enormous success, and you grow addicted to the sound of the chime that reminds you that someone wants to get in contact with you. The euphoria of togetherness and the communities of consumption Today’s business network is essential: no career without a network. The importance of networking is growing drastically right now, and the scope of these communities are constantly being expanded; they’re assiduously maintained by people with big personal interests at stake, or in the anticipation that a group can achieve more than individuals. The modern experience industry offers many new happenings and events that feature the euphoria of community and togetherness. Philanthropy is also doing well; charity is a rapidly growing lifestyle icon. We use our money to help alleviate suffering across the world. In the name of solidarity we bedeck ourselves with symbols, armlets, ribbons, and other icons that prove that despite our wealth, consumption, and individualisation we’re still ready to help others. We have a need to show that we’re good people. We consume as never before, and we communicate and express ourselves in consumer communities. We let ourselves be linked by symbols, brands, and communication into various communities that shape our identity. In short: communities are alive and well. Enjoy! Birthe Lindal Hansen, project manager Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, December 2005 4