‘Individualisation’ did not enter German social policy debates until the end of the 1980s. Mainstream feminists argued first in favour of individualised benefits for women, and labour market individualisation, for women as well as for men, now scores high on the German social policy agenda. Benefits and other provisions are being increasingly (re-)designed in the expectation that both men and women in households will be employed. This article briefly examines the original meaning of individualisation and the way in which it was transformed in the influential writings of Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim. It then argues that the current social policy reforms in Germany reveal ambiguities in respect of individualisation which were debated in the earlier sociological literature.