Individualism vs. Collectivism

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Who could have imagined the world we live in today 10 years ago or beyond. Our cultures have evolved in and out of so many different methodologies it would make ones head spin to try and capture them all in one writing. One thing that has not changed significantly over the decades, even centuries, has been individualism and collectivism and how they shape who we are as humans. Our natural instincts to survive as individuals and within groups have existed for all of time. This writing will define individualism and collectivism, as they currently exist in our cultures today. It will also include more specific characteristics of collectivism and how it exists across the many vast cultures of our ever-changing, and shrinking, world.


Individualism and collectivism are conflicting views with the nature of humans, society, and the relationship between them. Individualism as defined by Donelson R Forsyth (2006), in his book Group Dynamics, “is a tradition, ideology, or personal outlook that emphasizes the primacy of the individual and his or her rights, independence, and relationships with other individuals” (p. 77). In essence, he is stating the somewhat obvious, that individualism determines that the individual is the primary unit of reality and the ultimate standard of value. This view does not deny that societies exist or that people benefit from living in them, but it sees society as a collection of individuals, not something over and above them. Forsyth (2006) defines Collectivism as “a tradition, ideology, or personal orientation that emphasizes the primacy of the group or community rather than each individual person” (p. 77). Here, he alludes to the fact that the group, the nation, the community, the proletariat, the race, etc., is the primary unit of reality and the ultimate standard of value. This view does not deny the reality of the individual. Ultimately, collectivism determines that the group one interacts with shapes their...
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