One of the things we’ve been learning about in the past week is the difference between individualism and collectivism. Dominant western culture can be categorized as individualistic, “meaning that the most common psychosocial unit of operation is the individual, not the group. Individualistic societies believe that the needs of the group are satisfied when the needs of the individual are satisfied” (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009, p. 178-179). I do not believe that when the needs of an individual are met the needs of society are met. This is evidenced in the lack of basic healthcare, access to equal education, and affordable housing in the United States, to name a few. I think that we can learn from collectivist societies, which “believe that the individual needs are met when the group’s needs are met” (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009, p. 178-179). I think that this individualistic culture in which we live has led us to being greedy, selfish and caring more about having things than loving people.
Now, I’m not proposing that individuals should not have the freedom to choose who they are, how they want to be in the world, or what they believe or think; I’m proposing that perhaps there is a middle ground where we think less about how something is going to affect “me”, and more about how is something going to affect all of “us” as a country, state, city and community.
Our individualistic culture in America has led to an uneven distribution of wealth. One of the news items I submitted for this class was an article written by Michael Moore about how “400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer ‘bailout’ of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined” (Moore, 2011). Our society of individualism is costing us our collective wellbeing.
What do you think?
Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression and change: culturally grounded social work. Chicago, IL Lyceum Books, Inc.
Moore, M. (2011, April 27). America is not broke. Retrieved from http://www.truth-out.org/michael-moore-america-is-not-broke68265
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