An individualistic culture can be commonly observed in countries all over the world today, and has its own advantages and disadvantages, unique characteristics, and communication styles. ScienceStruck tells you all about the individualistic culture, along with the communication styles it uses as well as a few examples.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.
– Dr. Seuss
The word ‘individualistic’ tends to more or less give away its meaning, doesn’t it? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that individualistic means centering or revolving around an individual. In this article, we’re going to be looking at the relationship between individualism and culture. Before we get into that, let’s first try to understand what culture means.
The Oxford Dictionary defines culture as: The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. We can rightly presume that the behavior of a person is determined by the culture and the social environment that he or she is a part of.
Though culture can be minutely categorized, it is largely distinguished into individualistic and collectivist cultures. Read on to know more about individualistic culture.
Meaning and Characteristics
Much like the term suggests, an individualistic culture emphasizes upon giving greater importance to the needs of an individual over the needs of a group or a community. In this kind of culture, people are more concerned with themselves and their immediate family, as opposed to a collectivist culture where the group’s needs are given equal or more importance. Members of an individualistic society are independent and self-reliant, and their behavior is determined by personal attitude and personal preferences.
An individualistic culture encourages autonomy, and often, dependence on others for one’s own needs is considered degrading. Members of this culture are expected to be assertive and strong, always putting personal needs over the needs of others.
Individualistic culture promotes the ‘I, Me, Myself’ identity as well as individual goals, individual achievements, and individual aspirations. This kind of culture takes pride in making its members completely self-reliant and not dependent upon anyone else for anything at all. An individualistic culture is more task-oriented, meaning, it tends to give tasks more importance over relationships or anything else.
Individualistic cultures believe that being completely independent benefits the individual, which ultimately benefits the society as a whole.
Communication in an individualistic culture is entirely different as compared to a collectivist culture. In an individualistic culture, communication is more direct. For instance, if A wants to know something from B, A will ask B a direct question which B is expected to answer just as directly. Any communication in this culture is expected to be very precise and to the point. This style of communication is also called a low-context communication style.
This style of communication is encouraged in an individualistic culture to avoid any misconceptions or misunderstandings that may be born from ‘reading between the lines’. Speaking clearly and eloquently is expected, and individuals are encouraged to prove their own point wherever the need may arise. Communication in an individualistic society focuses on the sole purpose of communication and not on the relationship between the communicating individuals. Hence, it is more open and liberal as compared to communicating in collectivist cultures.
As we have seen from its unique characteristics, there is no doubt that an individualistic culture has several advantages accompanying it. As opposed to a collectivist culture, an individualistic culture promotes the concept of finding happiness in one’s own beliefs, ideas, thoughts, and experiences. This paves the way for personal happiness and inner peace, which cannot always be experienced by those who try to find their happiness according to the norms set by their social group.
Individualistic cultures also encourage their members to dream their own dreams and achieve them, without fear of rejection from the group or any interference. Members of an individualistic culture are often rewarded for their individual hard work and efforts, which ultimately benefits the society as a whole.
We cannot declare that a certain percent of the cultures that make up the world are individualistic, or not. However, according to our opinions largely based on observations, it is quite clear which countries promote individualism, and which don’t. Given below are examples of some of the most popular individualistic cultures.
- The United States of America
- The United Kingdom
- South Africa
We can also spot instances of individualistic culture in day-to-day life.
Corporate companies in individualistic cultures tend to judge and hire an applicant on the basis of his or her personal achievements and capabilities. The applicant’s association with any group – family, academic, or any other group does not come into the picture at all.
Individualistic cultures discourage interference into anyone’s private matters, such as marriage or intimate relationships. Marriages in such cultures are easily accepted as the happiness of the individuals getting married is the sole focus.
So that was all about individualistic cultures. It would be incorrect to assume that an individualistic culture is better than any different kind of culture, as while it does promote independence and teaches its members to be self-reliant and strong, it does have a fair share of setbacks too. In the end, it all depends upon perspective, doesn’t it?