INDUSTRIALIZATION AND URBANIZATION
AND ITS EFFECT ON
In premodern society, the family was the most important factor to its members. The members depended on others within the family for support in everything they did. In other words, "individual" was not a good word to describe a single person, because that person was just one part of the entire peasant household. Claims have been made by sociologists such as Georg Simmel and Peter Berger that single persons develop individuality as a result of the breakup of the peasant household economy brought about by industrialization and urbanization. This paper will attempt to show that this is not the case for Japanese society.
Simmel's argument asserted that people began to develop individual ideas with the start of industrialization, the division of labor, and urbanization. They began to develop their own skills and therefore were able to go out and earn a living. This allowed a person to meet and get involved with other groups of people outside of the household; thus, the great dependence on the family that at one time was very strong, dissolved. If someone stays within the household only, and does not come into contact with any other group, that person is unable to form his or her own ideas and opinions. On the other hand, someone involved with many people is able to become a very unique and individual person because the more groups one belongs to, the more one is able to combine the group memberships to develop his or her personal feelings and attitudes.
In order to understand this concept of individualism as a result of industrialization and urbanization, the term "peasant society" must be made clear. When thinking of a peasant, one thinks of a farmer working all day to feed his family. Peasant society, however, goes much deeper than that. Some features are common owne...