Prof. Richard Stivers explains the paradox of modern mass society that on the one hand seems highly individualistic and on the other hand strongly collectivistic.
Already in the nineteenth century, the individual became disconnected from the local community and extended family that normally served to give him an identity inside the context of community. The new mass society made each person an equal and independent entity that acted like tiny atoms inside a society of similar yet separate atoms.
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“At the same time,” Strivers notes, “authority became centralized in government, bureaucracy, corporations, and the mass media. There was no buffer such as community and family between the individual and centralized power. The new sources of power used the needs, fears, and desires of the emotionally independent individual to control him” (Richard Stivers, The Illusion of Freedom and Equality, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2008, p. 80).