privatism The tendency for people in advanced industrial societies to spend their lives less in the public domain and more within the confines of the nuclear family. In other words, increasing ‘home-centredness’ and ‘nuclear family-centredness’, and withdrawal from the public realm of community organizations and activities, such as those associated with the church, union, pub, or political party. A forceful statement of the argument is Richard Sennett's The Fall of Public Man (1977). Sennett's main theme is that of the dissolution of the ‘public culture’ (the street life and social intercourse of the café and local marketplace) and the rise of privatism. The extent of this phenomenon, and the allegedly secular trend towards it, are both contested by the majority of sociologists. The most useful contemporary assessment is Fiona Devine's Affluent Workers Revisited (1992). The process of privatism should not be confused with that of privatization.
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