The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 1/5

China and America are not the same. China has a collective culture. The United States has an individualist culture.

I’ve discovered from on-line debates that some Westerners from individualist cultures don’t understand what a collective culture is, and he or she appears to hate what they don’t understand. Even the Western media often shows its ignorance by how it reports events in China by judging China as if it were a individualist culture.

It might surprise many in the West that China is not the only country with a collectivist culture.

Along with China, one list I saw had Argentina, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Scandinavia and Portugal on it.

For individualist cultures, there was Canada, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the United States.

In Chinese society, collectivism has a long tradition based on Confucianism, where being a community man or someone with a social personality is valued.

In a collective society such as China, each person is encouraged to conform to society, to do what is best for the group and to not openly express opinions or beliefs that go against it.

Group, family or rights for the common good are seen as more important than the rights of the individual. Laws exist to promote stability, order and obedience.

Working with others and cooperating is the norm.  Being uncooperative is often seen as shameful. Source: Psychology – Collectivist and Individualist Cultures

Continued on December 18, 2012 in Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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4 Responses to The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 1/5

  1. piracetam says:

    Even in individualist countries/cultures, we find collectivism at work. In business, the collective society is often seen in corporate structure.

    • Some corporations – not all
      Some are dictatorships that are micromanaged
      Each corporation is different as are individuals and cultures such as China and the United States

      For example:

  2. Roundys says:

    I think this observation is correct. As Sidney Rittenberg said in the video posted here, China is a ‘we’ society while the West is a ‘me’ society. I don’t think one society is necessarily better than the other. But the way this cultural difference does sometimes manifest itself in interesting ways. May be a cultural anthropologist can do some studies on this subject.

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