Individualist and Collectivist Cultures
Sep 27, 2007 02:42
  • SUNNYDREAM
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As we discuss cultures in this forum, I think that our goal is not to say that one culture is better or worse than another. If we really want to evaluate a culture, we have to understand it first. Although there are many differences between Chinese culture and Western cultures, in nature, there is only one basic difference: the difference between individualist and collectivist cultures.

Anyway, what is an individualist culture? What is a collectivist culture? Though there are many versions of definitions.The following is representative:

An individualist culture is one in which people tend to view themselves as individuals and to emphasize the needs of individuals. In general,
Sep 27, 2007 02:55
#1  
  • SUNNYDREAM
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In general, Western culture tends to be individualist.

A collectivist culture is one in which people tend to view themselves as members of groups( families, work units, tribes, nations), and usually consider the needs of the group to be more important than the needs of individuals. Most Asian cultures, including China's, tend to be collectivist.

As a member of either an individualist or collectivist culture, what is your understanding of two cultures?
Sep 28, 2007 05:03
#2  
  • YVONNE
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The fundamental difference between individualist and collectivist culture lies in the difference in handling the relationship between individuals and community. Individualist culture highlights personal interests.
Sep 28, 2007 05:31
#3  
  • DODGER
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But we are all indivuals first and must think of what is good for our family before all others surley?
In your time of need who wil help you? Your family or the tribe/group?
Dodger
Sep 28, 2007 10:31
#4  
  • APAULT
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What you say sunnydream may be true but only because you use the phrase 'tends to be'. I don't think there is a big difference. Indeed I make this point with most cultural issues.

It has been suggested by some Asian leaders that the community is more important than the individual. Dr Mahathir a prior leader of Malaysia frequently made this point. If you think of the strict rules in Singapore... the community needs take precedence. So I go along with your point so far. In Europe, Socrates was in gaol awaiting trial but refused to fight his case because it would be disruptive to the state. Then we should consider the heroic deeds in war and peace where individuals sacrifice their life for others, especially their country or in other emergencise. And what about the people who give up personal opportunites to look after the poor, the helpless, the otherwise disadvantaged or the environment etc. Sorry, no I don't buy your hypothesis Sunnydream. But I hope you'll fight back :)
Sep 29, 2007 05:07
#5  
  • SUNNYDREAM
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Quote:

"And what about the people who give up personal opportunites to look after the poor, the helpless, the otherwise disadvantaged or the environment etc. Sorry, no I don't buy your hypothesis"

Apault, now that the people can give give up the personal benifits for the sake of others, they are altruistic. That is to say, they put community first( since a community consist of coutless individuals), their deeds embody the spirit of collectivism. They are collectivist. Well. I am not going to say" there is no altruism in Individualist Culture. My hypothesis was based on a general cultural aura. Certainly, there are always some exceptions.

By the way, Apault, I am not hawking a hypothesis. If you want to buy, I might not sell it to you despite how much you will pay. LOL! Are we bargaining?
Sep 29, 2007 06:03
#6  
  • DODGER
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So do you belive that being a Collectivist is better that being an individual Sunnydream?
Dodger.
Sep 29, 2007 22:31
#7  
  • SUNNYDREAM
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"But we are all indivuals first and must think of what is good for our family before all others surley?"

Dodger,

So this is the difference between us. I didn't mean that being an collectivist is better than individualist. My point is that there is a difference between individualist culture and collectivist culture. In my thread, I have said that "our goal is not to say that one culture is better or worse than another." But you really want to, you can choose which one you prefer.

But one thing I want to add:
Individualist culture puts too much emphasis on individual rights, which is likely to develop into "
Ego-centric". If you don't agree, I hope you and Paul will "fight back."
Sep 30, 2007 00:44
#8  
  • DODGER
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Sunnydream,
I do not want to fight back but without individual rights (read human rights) who decides what is good for me? Some facless person?
Who decides what I can think or speak or do. Who decides what the will of the collective is?
The Collective is much easier to controll by the people in power and like the early religions, say it it wrong to think of your own well being first..egocentric.
My aim is to do no harm to others in my personell quest to reach my goals and dreams. That is my right.
Perhaps we differ in thought?
Dodger.
Mar 11, 2008 12:01
#9  
GUEST62253 from a collectivist point of view we end to care more about who srrounds us and his/her wellbeing thus we care for the whole community at large
Mar 11, 2008 21:45
#10  
  • LEONARDO
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What distinguish individualist culture from collectivist culture lies in the way we deal with the relation between individual interests and communties' interests.In a collectivist culture, individuals are taught to put communities' interests on the top priority. That is to say, when there is a interest conflict between individuals and the collective, individuals are expected to sacrifice their own benefits for the sake of the collective wel-lbeing. In an individualist culture, individuals care for the personal interests first, then the collective interests. Well, in theory, that is the case. In reality, there is a subtle distinction between individualist culture and and collectivist culture. Additionally, in many cases, individual interests are closely associated with collective interests. We humans are a group of gregarious animals. Whether we live in a collectivist culture or a individualist culture, IMO, we can share the same credo:"Never do unto others what you would not expect them do unto you!".
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