Human rights and the triumph of the individual in world culture
Links to Fileshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1749975507082052
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work27 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Anthropology, Sociology & Criminal Justice
Citation of Original PublicationElliot, Michael A. 2007. "Human rights and the triumph of the individual in world culture." Cultural Sociology 1(3). Retrieved October 15, 2021 (https://doi.org/10.1177/1749975507082052)
Despite ongoing attention to the subject, cultural accounts of the globalization of human rights are surprisingly scarce. Most accounts describe this phenomenon either as a function of evolutionary progress or the rational/strategic action of states and social movement organizations. As a result, they have difficulty explaining both the moral impulse to act on behalf of human rights and the tremendous expansion of the ideology itself. Borrowing insights from global cultural analysis, I argue that the increasing concern for, and elaboration of, human rights points to a world-cultural environment where the individual is increasingly regarded as sacred and inviolable. To demonstrate this, I explore how human rights have developed historically as a ‘cult of the individual’ and present new data on their recent worldwide expansion.