Osterman, a culture scholar, says:We may conceptualize individualism as a worldview that centralizes the personal—personal goals, personal uniqueness, and personal control—and peripheralizes the social…The core element of collectivism is the assumption that groups bind and mutually obligate individuals.
Carbaugh also suggests that culture is a learned set of shared interpretations about beliefs, values, and norms, which affect the behaviors of a relatively large group of people.Culture is linked to communication and a wide range of human experience including feelings, identity, and meaning-making.Communication is the vehicle by which meanings are conveyed, identity is composed and reinforced, and feelings are expressed.As we communicate using different cultural habits and meaning systems, both conflict and harmony are possible outcomes of any action.
Individual:Independent—free, control over one’s lifeGoals—striving for one’s own goals and achievementsCompete—personal competition and successUnique—focus on one’s own unique characteristicsPrivate self-knowledge—keeping one’s thoughts private from othersDirect communication—stating clearly what one wants and needsCollectivism:Related—consider close others as part of the selfBelong—enjoy belonging to groupsDuty—being willing to make sacrifices as a group memberHarmony—concern for group harmonyAdvice—turning to close others for help with decisionsContext—self alters across situations (contrast with individualism, where the “consistent self” is a strong value)Hierarchy—emphasis on status issues.Group—preference for working in groupsNote: one strong individualist-collectivist contrast comes out at U.S. universities in terms of plagiarism. Collectivist cultures see no problem with giving and receiving help, often quite a bit of help, in writing papers or other projects. Our strongly individualistic culture looks at plagiarism as a serious offense because of our focus on competition and self-obtained goals. Foreign students who aren’t aware of this big difference are often caught by surprise when they receive a bad grade on a paper on which they’ve collaborated with someone else, in order to make it the best paper they can, and are accused of cheating. It’s not a clash of ethics, it’s a clash of cultural values.
Children raised as individualists may be just as close to their families as a child raised in a collective setting, but they draw the boundaries differently: in case of a conflict, they may feel more free to choose their individual preference. Duty, honor, and deference to authority are less prominent for those with individualist starting points than collective ones.This may explain why American Indians have the highest number of military veterans, and continue to have the highest per capita number of soldiers compared to any other group in the U.S. American Indian societies are in general collectivist or communitarian, and respect for hierarchy (most often seen as respect for elders) and a sense of honor and duty to the extended family, hence the country, are strong.
Members are rewarded for allegiance to group norms and values, interdependence, and cooperation. Wherever they go, their identity as a member of their group goes out in front. Identity is not isolated from others, but is determined with others according to group needs and views. When conflict arises, behavior and responses tend to be jointly chosen.
An interesting factoid about North America is stated by Raymond Carroll, a French anthropologist who is married to a North American. He suggests that North Americans tend to see individual identities as existing outside all networkds. That does not mean that social networks do not exist, or that they are unimportant, but that it is notionally possible to see the self apart from these. In the North American view, there is a sense that the self creates its own identity, as in the expression “a self made person.” This view explains why it is unnecessary for North Americans to hide things about their past, such as humble origins….in fact they are proud of such origins—look at Barack Obama!
And, you get to chew my butt in your journal!Actually, we have to draw these large paradigms of culture to have a starting point both for understanding the building blocks of how cultures function, and for understanding ourselves and our place in the world.
Think about this slide: do you agree? This will alsocome up in your small-group discussion next time!
Autonomy and embeddedness refer to the cultural view of relations between the individual and the group:Autonomy is closely related to individualismEmbeddedness is related to collectivismWhat this means is that members of collective cultures place less importance than individualists on relationships with outsiders, such as strangers or casual acquaintances. Boundaries around relationships tend to be less porous in collective contexts like Japan, where attention is focused on maintaining harmony and cohesion with the group.In the individualist setting of the U.S., by contrast, “friendly” behavior is directed to members of in-groups and strangers alike. This difference can lead to misunderstandings!!DO HEART ILLUSTRATION ON BOARD AT THIS POINT!In terms of motivating responsible behavior, some cultures believe in equality of all. (Note that ideal beliefs and the actual practice of those beliefs may differ.) Some cultures believe in and support hierarchy.If you’re from an individualistic culture, you’re more likely to believe in equality.
Particularistcultures are based on “logic of the heart” and human friendship, and so people look at relationships and circumstances in specific situations to determine what’s right.Universalist cultures rules and contracts are developed which can apply in any situation. There is a belief that what is good or true can be discovered, defined, and applied to every situation. Strong universalist cultures use courts to mediate conflicts.To give you an example of how universalism and particularism work in an applied real-world situation, let’s look at U.S. foreign policy. George W. Bush is a universalist. He believed that U.S. style democracy is not only desirable, but that it’s applicable as a form of government for every other country in the world. He believed that the key to American security is the active spread of American values and institutions around the world.Particularists, on the other hand, do not believe that the world’s political diversity represents a threat to the U.S. They don’t think that one size fits all, and that American-style democracy is appropriate as governance for all other countries. While a particularist leader of the U.S., such as Obama will most likely be, may not endorse tyranny, corruption, or misrule, he still believes that those factors will remain a fixture in international relations so long as human beings remain fallible. It’s a more pragmatic, situational view of international relations.Horizontal individualistic people—at the intersection of individualism and equality, desire to be unique and to do their own thing. Vertical individualistic people, located at the intersection of individualism and hierarchy, not only want to do their own thing, but also want to be the very best—they are the epitome of competition. Horizontal collectivists cooperate with their in-groups; they’re all equal in their efforts.Vertical collectivists submit to the hierarchy defined by their in-groups and are willing to sacrifice themselves for their in-groups.
Cultural research especially lacks data on within-culture variations in individuals’ cultural orientations beyond using dichotomous comparisons. As you discuss these matters with your group-mates, you will discover how difficult it is to create hard-and-fast labels and make them fit every student. It’s just not possible. These definitions give you a framework and some guidelines for understanding, and it’s up to you to have the discussions to learn how people really are.
Individualism And Collectivism
Individualism and Collectivism*<br />Lecture 1<br />ANTH 104<br />*Sometimes called “Communitarianism”<br />
Defining Culture…from DonalCarbaugh<br />A system of expressive practices fraught with feelings, a system of symbols, premises, rules, forms, and the domains and dimensions of mutual meanings associated with these.<br />
Individualistic Patterns<br /> Children raised in individualistic cultures are rewarded for initiative, personal achievement, and individual leadership. <br />
Collectivist Patterns<br />Children are taught that they are a part of a circle of relations. <br />This identity as a member of a group comes first, summed up in the South African idea of ubuntu: “I am because we are.”<br />
Who am I? Ask yourself which is most in the foreground in your life…<br />The welfare, development, security, prosperity, and well-being of yourself and others as individuals?<br />The shared heritage, ecological resources, traditional stories, and group accomplishments of your people?<br />
Wait a minute!<br />Can aspects of both cultural dynamics be important to people?<br />Sure! And that’s one of the many things you’re going to discuss with your group-mates next class session! <br />
Money and Happiness<br />Wealthier countries are more individualistic, probably because there is less need to be reliant on other people.<br />In individualistic countries, life satisfaction depends upon personal feelings and experiences. (In collective cultures, the broader social context and cultural norms influence life satisfaction.)<br />
Key Dimensions on Which Cultures DifferSmith and Schwartz 1997<br />Autonomy versus Embeddedness<br />How to motivate responsible behavior<br />
Cultural GridSmith and Schwartz<br />Combinatorial Culture Types<br />By Country, not Individual People<br />Smith and Schwartz (1997)<br /> <br /> <br />HierarchyEquality<br /> Particularism Universalism<br />Central and Eastern Europe— Northern and Western Europe, IndividualismRussia, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S.<br />Romania<br /> <br /> Vertical CollectivismHorizontal Collectivism<br />Pacific Asian countries-- Southern European countries—<br />CollectivismIndonesia, South Korea, Japan Greece, Turkey, Spain<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
Some Final Thoughts<br />There is no one-size-fits-all with Individualism and Collectivism.<br />Korean collectivism is different from Japanese collectivism.<br />French individualism is different from American individualism.<br />Not all experts agree on the definitions I’ve presented here; all concepts need refinement.<br />Individuals within a culture are not “imprisoned” by the general characteristics of their cultures.<br />
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