Individualistic Culture

Individualistic Culture Versus Collectivistic Culture


The description of an individualistic culture is a culture that has a main concern. This is usually for themselves and their own families. Unlike a collectivistic culture that has concern for all of the people they associate with and surround themselves with, an individualistic culture is only concerned with what goes on with themselves.


America is a good example of an individualistic culture. Most Americans are only interested in advancement and the prospering of themselves. The main goal is to become financially independent and to acquire possessions. The reason this happens is because of how Americans live. They have the freedom to believe and think what they want and each individual concentrates on his own personal goals.


In other countries that do not have the same freedoms as America, the individual seems to focus on the entire group or society. They are more likely to care about the problems people have surrounding them. They are also more likely to help a person or group that needs it. They also embrace connecting with and helping other people. This is called a collectivistic culture.


Collectivistic cultures do have their good points but some can also be negative. For example, if a collectivistic culture decides to elect an official, the entire group will make this decision. But because of the absence of freedom of thought, even if an individual disagrees he will have to follow or agree with the group’s decision. For the benefit of the group, the person will not or cannot disagree.


China and most Asian cultures are considered collectivistic cultures. They have specific rules set in place that may seem very different from the individualistic culture. They honor and praise each other and are extremely polite and this is not seen in other cultures. The American president Barack Obama made a recent trip to Japan. He was highly criticized for bowing to a Japanese leader. Many Americans thought this was degrading and it was said to be an embarrassment. But to the Japanese people this is a part of their culture. Even when Japanese people are asking a stranger for directions or help, they will bow to them as a sign of respect. This respect is a highly regarded and when a person does not show respect in this culture, they are considered to be very rude.


Another example of a collectivistic culture would be Singapore. There they have specific guidelines and rules to keep order for all the people who live there. In 1994, an American boy was brought up on vandalism charges and his sentence was public caning. This enraged Americans and they rallied against this Singapore brand of justice. People from Singapore were baffled at this behavior. Their collectivistic culture includes this type of punishment for certain crimes and most everyone in Singapore was in agreement. However, if they were not in agreement they probably would not object for fear of not agreeing with the entire group.


When it comes to individualistic culture versus collectivistic culture, they both have good and bad points. But to either side, the differences may seem too extreme. It would probably benefit each side to include more freedoms and individualism but it can also be beneficial to a country to actually care about what happens to all of its inhabitants. To not only be able to care for ones self and related family needs but to also help and decide on how to aid other people who are in need. The merging of the different cultures and philosophies would be refreshing. But unfortunately, this merging isn't likely to happen any time soon.