Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Collectivism vs. Individualism

Asian societies tend to be "collectivistic" in nature, as are many other ethnically diverse communities. This means that the members of a group would behave in ways that are more conducive to the community, rather than thinking about the individual first. This is in contrast to Western societies, where "individualism" is valued. An example would be Americans are taught to be number one and competition is often between individuals. In societies that are collectivistic, individuals may sacrifice their personal needs on behalf of the greater good. An example would be all members of a household working at a family owned business on top of their own responsibilities.

What might be a reason for the collectivism? Asian famly structures often translate into intergenerational households. In addition to the nuclear family of parents and children, grandparents may also reside in the same home. At times, unmarried siblings of the parents may also live with the host family. In other instances, siblings and their respective families may live in close proximity with one another. This would mean that all members need to learn to live in harmony with one another without disrupting others. Therefore, the members of the household learn to interact with family members in a way that does not cause tension for others.


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