De-Homogenizing American Individualism: Socializing Hard and Soft Individualism in Manhattan and Queens



Theories of the Western self are often based on a generic individualism based on the American upper-middle-class, and attempts to find sociocentric elements within our midst often constitute the stereotyping of the working class as conformist and women as relational. In speaking about their childrens' self, parents from different social classes in Manhattan and Queens use different images and metaphors. These descriptions are explored here, and it is suggested that three different styles of individualism exist alongside sociocentric socialization practices: hard offensive, hard defensive, and soft offensive. However, the way parents in each community move from one (individualistic) socialization practice to the other (sociocentric) differs greatly.