Before we close this chapter, the term ‘individualization’ and how it works may be explained. Individualization is that social process which tends to make the individual more or less independent of his group and to create in him a self-consciousness of his own.
According to Maclver individualization is “the process in which men become more autonomous or self-determining in which they advance beyond mere imitativeness or acceptance of standards which come to them with only an outer sanction, in which they become less bound by tradition and custom in the regulation of their lives, less submissive to authority and dictation in matters of through and opinion recognizing that each is a unique focus of being and can achieve the ends of his life only as these grow clear in his own consciousness and become the objects of his own will.
Individualization is the process in which man comes to know himself, and acquire the sense of inner responsibility. It is simply the process of attaining to one’s own self, when a man does things not simply because others do the same things but because his own self approves it, he is carried by his own individuality which is a quality to him. Socialization brings man into relation with others; individualization makes him autonomous or self-determining.
In understanding how the process of individualization works, two misconceptions should be removed. Firstly, the individualization is a process carried through solely by the individual himself; secondly, that individualization is primarily a mental process which is being spread through the prevailing ideas.
When a man attains his own self, it does not mean that the individual frees himself completely from the influence of his group. Not only the individual himself but the society as well helps him in acquiring the inner sense of responsibility and in knowing himself. So the process of individualization is carried not only by the individual himself but also by the society.
Secondly, the task of the sociologist is not merely to ascertain the ideas that exist at a certain time but also to investigate how these ideas came into existence. Ideas by themselves do not create individualization. They are merely the mental expressions of the process of individualization.