What Happened to Our Will to Serve in the West? Secularization, Individualism, Family and the Decline of the Civilization
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The West is changing profoundly and so is its cultural and community-building potential. When we observe the transformations of this civilization in such aspects as fertility rates, marriage and divorce statistics, single-parenthood and out-of-wedlock births, birth control and euthanasia, one may look for a common explanation of this phenomena. It seems that people care less for each-other and more about themselves, and spend less time in long-term relationships which demand engagement, devotion and readiness to serve. At the same time, they do not seem to be happier or wealthier. According to the thesis of my paper, in order to understand and explain the changes listed above it is necessary to analyze them in a wider framework of socio-cultural shifts that took place in recent centuries in the West. This paper concentrates on such phenomena as secularization, rise of individualism and transformations of family life. These elements are going to be tested as key processes which triggered and facilitated profound transformations of culture and social structure which manifest themselves today in such alarming trends as, for example, demographic imbalance due to declining fertility and population ageing, decreasing human capital due to low-quality socialization, population control as well as eugenic practices or feminization of poverty. It seems that the current socio-economic condition of the West calls for critical and thorough analysis of dominating norms, values and beliefs which influence everyday decisions and the actions of millions of people who, in general, do not want to see the decline of their welfare and well-being. The aim of this paper is to engage and combine different findings from such disciplines as economics, psychology, history, sociology and cultural studies in order to present the will to serve which can be described as a foundational dimension and condition of life.
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