“To sum up: the other side of individualization seems to be the corrosion and slow disintegration of citizenship. Joël Roman … points out in his recent book (La Démocratie des Individus, 1998), that ‘vigilance is degraded to the point of surveillance, engaging collective emotions and fear of the neighbour‘ – and urges people to seek a ‘renewed capacity for deciding together’, a capacity now conspicious mostly by absence.
If the individual is the citizen‘s worst enemy and if individualization spells trouble for citizenship and citizenship-based politics, it is because the concerns and preoccupations of individuals qua individuals fill the public space, claiming to be its only legitimate occupants and elbowing out from public discourse everything else. The ‘public’ is colonized by the ‘private‘; ‘public interest’ is reduced to curiosity about the private lives of public figures and the art of public life is tapered to the public display of private affairs and public confessions of private sentiments (the more intimate the better), ‘Public issues’ which resist such reduction become all but incomprehensible.
The prospects for a ‘re-embedding’ of individualized actors in the republican body of citizenship are dim. What prompts them to venture onto the public stage is not so much a search for common causes and ways to negotiate the meaning of the common good and the principles of life in common, as a desperate need for ‘networking’. The sharing of intimacies, as Richard Sennett keeps pointing out, tends to be the preferred, perhaps the only remaing, method of ‘community-building’. This building technique can spawn ‘communities’ only as fragile and short-lived, scattered and wandering emotions, shifting erratically from one target to the another and drifting in the forever inconclusive search for a secure haven … As Ulrich Beck puts it … : ‘What emerges from the fading social norms is naked, frightened, aggressive ego in search of love and help….'”
aus: Zygmunt Bauman: Individuality, together, Foreword to: Beck, Ulrich / Beck-Gernsheim, Elisabeth: Individualization. London u.a.: Sage 2002, S.xviii.