Methodological individualism is the belief that persons and their actions are the only real and irreducible things. It is an essential doctrine of neoliberal ideology, as is evident in Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 statement that “There is no such thing as society”. Rational choice theory, which underlines most mainstream economics today, is a reductive mathematized psychologization of the methodological individualist approach, while Contemporary Art’s anarcho-realist fixation on the individual subject as the arbiter of interpretation, embraces its micro-sociological myopia.
Nonetheless, there are evident problems with maintaining this position. In economic theories, for instance, price acts as an irreducible social fact and emergent figure, whose effects cannot be accounted for by the limitations of methodological individualism. In Contemporary Art, the emergence of cultural value is indeterminable from the position of the individual, and often falls back upon the vagaries of the market to prop up its speculations. While methodological individualism is ascendent, it is not monolithic.