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particularismthe orientation of any culture or human grouping in which the values and criteria used in evaluating actions are internal to the group, without any reference to values or criteria which apply to human beings universally. Thus, many traditional cultures are seen as particularistic, while modern societies have increasingly tended to be dominated by universalistic criteria, by universalism. see also PATTERN VARIABLES.
in bourgeois political science, the concept referring to a movement whose goal is the acquisition or retention of political, administrative, or cultural autonomy for a particular part of the state.
Extreme manifestations of particularism include separatism (a movement for secession and formation of an independent state) and decentralization, which rejects all forms of centralism. In the context of the Middle Ages, “particularism” refers to the political fragmentation characteristic of a certain period of development of the feudal state and associated with the striving of feudal seigniors and cities for maximum political, administrative, and judicial independence. Also typical of this period was particularism in law: heterogeneity and diversity of legal systems in the provinces, principalities, and cities of a single state.
In theology, the term “particularism” refers to the doctrine that not all believing Christians but only the elect will attain salvation (decretum particulare).