Collectivism in the Korean society: Then and Now

Topics: Korean language, South Korea, Korea Pages: 6 (1981 words) Published: October 12, 2013
In my Observation Paper, I wrote of how I received the assistance of Koreans when I had arrived. The collectivistic assistance of the Koreans was something I was especially amazed, as they could approach the people along the street whom they did not know, just to make sure I received the help I needed. Given this opportunity, I would be discussing about the collectivistic attitude of Koreans in the modern society, with an attempt to link the origins. This paper would also discuss on possible attributions to the change of the society’s attitude through incidents which I have either heard from my Korean friends or had experienced personally myself. Origins of collectivism

Collectivism, as defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica, is observed in social organizations in which the individual is seen as being subordinate to a social collectivity such as a state, nation, race or social class. In Korea, collectivism has its roots from Confucianism, where goals of the group are more important than that of self-fulfillment. Schools of the past emphasized on the teachings of Confucian, which had an impact on the workings of the Korean society. The different classes of society also emphasized the idea of collectivism, especially the notion of in-groups and out-groups. This was especially evident in the higher social classes of Koreans, as they try to maintain their status in the society to keep out the lower classes from climbing up the social ladder. Over the years, as Korea started to face foreign intervention and colonization, the different classes worked together as a group to preserve the Korean identity. The call for independence and democracy are great examples of the collectivistic attitude of Koreans, as they fought for independence and democracy. The Koreans were willing to risk their lives as they believed for “a greater call” in order to benefit the rest of the society and generations to come. Collectivism in Modern Korean Society

According to the Hofstede study, South Korea is rated a score of 18 on the individualistic scale. This dimension measures the degree of interdependence among members of the society. The low score indicates a collectivistic society, and deduces that is due to the individual’s long-term commitment to the member group of the Korean society, as well as how loyalty is more important than rules and regulations of the society. In this section, I shall be demonstrating the collectivistic attitudes of Koreans through various avenues and levels of the society. It should be able to demonstrate that the notion of collectivism changes according to circumstances and the people involved. Certain scenarios embrace the fact of a large in-group versus a small out-group, while some would show the example of a small in-group in contrast to a larger out-group. Collectivism in schools

The influence of collectivism starts young, even in schools. Attendance in school is taken comparatively more seriously than overseas. This commits students to attend classes, and through continued interaction with their peers, it builds friendships and also a sense of loyalty amongst the students. As they are under the same circumstances, it is easier to construct an in-group within themselves. Even in university, the idea of collectivism is nurtured, as opposed to other overseas colleges where independence is promoted. At Yonsei University, I have personally experienced how freshmen are brought together to learn school cheers during orientation. There was also a cheering session against Korea University to instill a sense of school pride. Every freshman worn their varsity jackets with the name of their departments stitched to the back. While they all sat in their departments during the cheering session, they were still part of the larger in-group at the end – that is, the students of Yonsei. Even during the spring festival at Yonsei, students from each faculty would work together to set up stalls, selling food to raise...
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