Individualism vs. collectivism is a important concept in Social Psychology. It effects every facet of a culture, including how individuals view themselves and the world. Where does your world fall on this spectrum?
By - that1gingergirl
I want to add to this:
There likely is no such thing as a "pure" individual or collective focused Society.
It's all kinds of grey in between that form and influence a society/culture.
As example the western culture is one shaped by individualism. But the US-Culture is further individual than the European culture.
The same is true for collectivism.
OP did use the word spectrum, so I think they get that.
Also importantly, "individualistic" societies really only started existing within the last century or two in capitalist societies. They are really only possible due to the detachment people have with their supply chains, and are founded upon the concept of private property - which was not a thing until about 200 years ago.
Indeed, I would argue an "individualistic" society is not one where people have to figure things out for themselves per se. But rather, one where the people within a network don't know each other, as each exchange of service is abstracted through corporate purchasing and sale.
This is, of course, accepting that "individualistic" societies actually really, quantifiably exist at all, and aren't just another contrivance of American Exceptionalism requiring some philosophical backing for its hyper-capitalistic worldview. I would note the last item on this list, that in individualistic societies "per capita GDP is higher", which I think is a pretty revealing addition. It's a) not necessarily or actually true and b) reveals the true ideal of "individualistic" societies: an obsession with infinite growth. An obsession with net growth sounds very... collective, wouldn't you say?
Anyways, overall I do not think this distinction or graph is particularly helpful in constructing actual, realistic societies. It's very reductive and ignores how human cultures of exchange, and economics in general, actually function.
I don't know if the obsession with infinite growth is tied to individualism as an ideal, I think it's much more associated with Capitalism.
Do you uh... want to elaborate on that?
E: Ah, you edited your comment. Well if we're gonna play rank here, I have an anthro degree and I can tell you that your generalization is regarded as highly problematic within the literature.
In reality, there are no purely individualistic or collectivist societies. It is too long to explain, and even psychology is divided into many positions that contradict each other.
You could've just said you didn't want to
Summary of your comment: "individualism does not exist, we are all collectivists by nature, capitalism is bad."
I never in my seven (technically nine if you space out the contractions) word response did I say any of those things. I simply pointed out that you provided very little information and context to support/expand your claim. I personally believe the fact that you jumped to that strawman of an arguement I wasn't even making is rather telling.
The reply was for the other user. Sorry
Cool, so you agree with me then? Did you even read my comment?
Your comment is clearly unfounded ideological propaganda, I honestly don't know why the mods have allowed this.
This entire post is literally unfounded ideological propaganda.
Yes and that's why they should close it, this is not a forum for political or philosophical discussion. Go to the appropriate subreddit if you want to spread propaganda.
Politics are a basic part of worldbuilding. ALL world will have government and economics if you want them to be believable. This involves taking inspiration from real societies and your own biases. It's not "ideological propaganda" to draw from economic data points, history, psychology, and sociology.
>This is totally fake, I am a psychologist and that is absurd. Individualistic societies have always existed, alongside collectivistic ones
Societies are matter of sociology, history and anthropology. Being psychologist doesn't make you authority on this subject. You might as well be architect.
Did you read the title? This model comes from the field of social psychology.
I did. It says "Individualism vs. collectivism is a important concept in Social Psychology". Social psychology studies how individuals are psychologically affected by social norms. To what degree are human societies individualistic or collectivist or anything like that is not part of it.
>I would note the last item on this list, that in individualistic societies "per capita GDP is higher", which I think is a pretty revealing addition. It's a) not necessarily or actually true and
[The correlation between individualism and GDP has been studied](https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Relationships-of-Individualism-to-GDP-GDP-per-capita-Scatterplot-of-Individualism_fig5_323494258). You ca argue the world doesn't necessarily have to be that way, but as of now, the correlation is strong.
>b) reveals the true ideal of "individualistic" societies: an obsession with infinite growth.
It depends on if the growth is for the collective, or the net result of individuals trying to grow their own personal wealth.
Good points and a good thought provoking post.
I have a couple follow up questions to your point about American vs European individualism. Do you think American individualism is owed more to its founding on classical western ideals (Greek philosophy, logic) or simply due to necessity born of the vast and wild landmass during the period of manifest destiny ?
On the same line of thought do you think European cutlers shift to a more collective society was more influenced by a general tread to abandon traditions simply for the sake of change during the time that Europe set about casting off the Monarchy and embracing an Equality at all costs mentality. Or instead would it be easier to trace the change to the Germanic tribes and their influence on European culture. or something I'm completely missing ?
Look, comparing a single country to a continent of 44 states and many more cultures and ethnicities, then asking how they stand on any given dimension just isn't going to work.
There's no such thing as an 'European individualism'. It's different in every country, and even within these countries. There are parts of Europe that are much more collective that others, and no, it's not only the former Warsaw Pact. So sorry, but all these questions are actually wrong to begin with.
I forget the word but there's a trend in biology and languages where migrated species will retain more basal traits while the original group continues to diverge. Modern English, Spanish and Norse are much more derived while American English, Latin American Spanish and Icelandic are still very close to their original form. I always looked at US culture as following this trend, being closer to Colonial era Europe but I don't know of any scientific backing to this (nor am I particularly well versed on the subject).
The overlap of etymology and physical sciences is always interesting. I'd love to not just see the data but understand it concerning the correlation between the increasing speed of various cultural language shifts, i.e. the redefining or disuse of common and scientific language as compared to the baseline genomic data for those cultural populations. Unfortunately I'm barely able to properly articulate the question let alone properly navigate and extrapolate anything close to proper scientific data.
If by chance anyone reads this who just so happens to know about this topic I would be thrilled to be enlightened on how to explore it further without making the false leaps of logic people are prone to when ignorant of a subject, I know I've been guilty of this more times than I'm aware of.
Not OP, but:
> Do you think American individualism is owed more to its founding on classical western ideals (Greek philosophy, logic) or simply due to necessity born of the vast and wild landmass during the period of manifest destiny
Neither, it's based upon the slave-owning, social-contract loving ideologies of America's founders. It arose as a result of an obsession with the ability of private individuals to own land and enterprises.
>On the same line of thought do you think European cutlers shift to a more collective society was more influenced by a general tread to abandon traditions simply for the sake of change during the time that Europe set about casting off the Monarchy and embracing an Equality at all costs mentality. Or instead would it be easier to trace the change to the Germanic tribes and their influence on European culture. or something I'm completely missing ?
Europe arguably became more unequal economically with the ending of monarchism/mercantilism and the transition towards wage slavery in urban centers. [The General Enclosure Act of 1801](https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldhistory2/chapter/the-enclosure-act/), which is used by some scholars as the historical demarcation of the "birth of capitalism", marks an eschewal of collective or monarchical ownership of property, towards private enterprise. This cut off most peasantry from self-sustaining themselves off of individual parcels of land, forcing them to work in factories.
The shift towards a more collective Europe post-WWII is a bit fuzzier, but a few points:
- America shifted towards suburbanization (white flight), whereas Europe became more urbanized. Suburban communities separate individual families, and tend to cause less sense of communal infrastructure and economy.
- Europe was the birthplace of socialism, and it was much stronger pre-WWII than anywhere in the US.
- Similarly, during the Cold War, the US cracked down on anything resembling social exchange through constant propaganda and actual, violent force. Europe, on the other side of the Atlantic, was somewhat insulated from this domestic crackdown.
- Ironically, the monarchic/parliamentary systems adopted by European countries may have actually shielded them from the oligarchical domination of democracies by corporations we see in the modern US
There are many more reasons than this. But my main point is, there are usually specific material/political conditions that cause these trends to magnify over time. I'd always be wary of "cultural" explanations for societal institutions. Don't let yourself be swayed by the idea that some program or infrastructure is incompatible with your local culture. In all likelihood, your society is structured that way in the first place because people stood to profit from changing culture to their benefit.
>I have a couple follow up questions to your point about American vs European individualism. Do you think American individualism is owed more to its founding on classical western ideals (Greek philosophy, logic) or simply due to necessity born of the vast and wild landmass during the period of manifest destiny ?
[This has been studied, it's being on a frontier](https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170118-how-east-and-west-think-in-profoundly-different-ways). For example, Hokkaido, the northernmost and most sparsely populated region of Japan, is also the most individualist. This applies in other nations as well, where the frontiers lean more individualist.
u/Corbutte's explanation does not work once you consider that the elites of basically every country, from Argentina to Zanzibar, owned land and enterprises, but many of those nations ended up collectivist anyway.
[Environmental determinism](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_determinism) is highly problematic in explaining cultural trends for many different reasons. The article you linked uses [this article as a source](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X15002328) which.... well here's the "proof"
>Frontier settlement may explain why levels of individualism in the US as a whole and other countries like Australia and Canada that were more recently frontiers are higher than levels of observed in Europe [28,32]. Effects consistent with the voluntary settlement hypothesis have also been observed comparing Hokkaido, a northern Japanese island that was settled by ethnic Japanese relatively recently, with the rest of the country, suggesting that migration to and settlement of frontier regions can produce effects in vary different societies
Not really conclusive.
>u/Corbutte's explanation does not work once you consider that the elites of basically every country, from Argentina to Zanzibar, owned land and enterprises, but many of those nations ended up collectivist anyway.
I'm not sure how that detracts from my point? Argentina is regarded as quite individualistic, at least as far as the word goes, and Zanzibar (now Tanzania) was quite dominated by colonial occupation, and its defining political shift was literally eschewing the ideologies of the colonizers.
I do love and miss a properly knowledgeable discussion of oppositional opinions in sociological studies. It's as close to practical philosophy in the spirit of the original meaning that we have today. Damn I miss college and the communal drive to not simply regurgitate factoids but to reach your own understanding and add that to the well of competing concepts. Though I'm no longer armed with more than dusty understanding and vague remembrance.
Both of your points seem to have merits and will be interesting further research for the evening.
>Environmental determinism is highly problematic in explaining cultural trends for many different reasons.
I'm not arguing for environmental determinism. The issue is political and social. The environment of hokaido is extremely similar to northern Honshu or northern Korea. The difference is the recent history of colonization and settlement that reshaped the existing society. Not some minor difference in humidity.
>Not really conclusive.
It's not concussive, but it's a source, which is better than nothing.
>I'm not sure how that detracts from my point? Argentina is regarded as quite individualistic, at least as far as the word goes, and Zanzibar (now Tanzania) was quite dominated by colonial occupation, and its defining political shift was literally eschewing the ideologies of the colonizers.
Argentina to Zanzibar as in A to Z. The point is that an interest in enterprise for the ruling class is nearly universal.
> I'm not arguing for environmental determinism. The issue is political and social. The environment of hokaido is extremely similar to north Honshu or northern Korea. The difference is the recent history of colonization and settlement. Not some minor difference in humidity.
~~That's... environmental determinism~~ I see what you're saying, nvm.
>It's not concussive, but it's a source, which is better than nothing.
It's a hypotheses with a point of evidence.
>Argentina to Zanzibar as in A to Z. The point is that an interest in enterprise for the ruling class is nearly universal.
This is tautological. "The ruling class will always seek to rule as a class".
I'm not an expert on colonisation or American history but I think I get what you're saying, from what I know about Britain and Europe their societies were born out of more collectivist cultures and thus had collectivist laws, customs and ways of viewing the world like common land that simply weren't transported to the colonies in lasting ways (since they were already being assaulted in the old world). America's foundation is mercantilism/proto-capitalism but the old world's capitalism evolved out of already more collectivist societies thus are naturally influenced by these roots. This is purely anecdotal, but I've noticed Americans are often shocked when they come to Europe and see how open the land is and how you can generally walk wherever, whereas in America everything's fenced off and private. I could be totally wrong but I've always seen that as a product of America being divorced from the same historical/societal continuity of Europe/Britain.
Yes, but actually no
I think the GDP part is dependent on economic , political, and historical realities than anything inherent in (cultural) individualism vs. collectivism. Japan checks off all of the boxes on the collectivist side in terms of culture but they have very high per capita GDP because they are a high powered capitalist society economically. Same with Korea.
Exactly. Some propaganda here, for sure. The irony is this college book is brought to you by individualism, and you'll pay for that individualism most of your adult life, if you can even manage to pay it off at all.
Exactly. While reading I thought it was a very cut and dry view from one perspective(western). Which I can't seem to relate sometimes as an Asian but yes It's much more complex than those things listed.
Agreed. Where did the collectivist data come from? If China, then (correct me if I'm wrong) individuals serve the needs of the family... but this is to increase social mobility over other families, not "for society"?
And if socialism, then social mobility is high, "media" and "social network" mean the same thing and GDP is completely irrelevant...
Looking at one nation does not show much, it's better to see if a trend emerges when you chart a large number of them ([And there is a trend](https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Relationships-of-Individualism-to-GDP-GDP-per-capita-Scatterplot-of-Individualism_fig5_323494258)).
Correlation is not causation.
Many culturally collectivist nations have low GDP but that's often because they were the victims of colonialization rather than anything inherent to a culturally collectivist mindset.
That's why I said one should look at the political, economic, and historical realities of a nation to determine why its GDP is the way it is.
What the fuck is that r^2 value dude
This looks like no correlation at all
I think this post here reveals part of the problem regarding GDP namely that it is a one dimensional metric and thus doesn't have much capacity for representing the complexity of the real world. In mathematical terms the best GDP can give you is a one dimensional projection of a higher dimensional measure.
Culture has its own dimensions i.e. there is no single cultural dimension of which you could argue individualism or collectivism is an example though I would have to emphasize that it is a relatively young dimension as historically humans have ancestrally been highly collectivist based on archeological and historical evidence, so it is an important factor even if it isn't the only factor.
The important take away is that we humans are prone to oversimplifying the very complex universe we live in, simplifying things does sometimes help us make sense of very complex subjects but it also leaves us blind to factors we have neglected.
A great tool
But remember they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. They can blend or one can serve the other
It really depends on the culture. I have ones that go full individualism and ones that go full collectivism... as well as many that are a weird mix of both (not always about the same things).
Most countries and cultures in the modern world are a weird mix of both. Emphasis on the weird for certain countries lol.
A few come to mind... including my own.
Ursula le Guin's book "The Dispossessed" is all about this actually. Quite an interesting book. Its sci fi but a nearly barren moon orbiting a paradise world has an anarchistic collective society that necasary in order to even live on the harsh world, its compared to the capitalistic world below that has all the resources in the world but still has people hungrier than the baren world above. Id give it a go if you have time
Yeah for further exploration on this idea, one should read “The Dispossessed” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Heinlein back to back. It’s amazing how similar they are: about moon colonies trying to survive and maintain/win their freedom.
I wrote a paper comparing the two in college.
That sounds like a fascinating story. I should check it out, thanks for the recommendation. It's kind of a shame that Ursula Le Guin's most well-known book is the Wizard of Earthsea - not that it's a bad book, just that she wrote a whole lot of stories that were just as interesting but less recognized.
definately, the Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossesed ( which gets a lot of grief for a lack of the political story progression and mainly focuses on PoV, which i liked) are great books that improve with rereading imo.
I've read "Andromeda Nebula" by Ivan Yefremov, about future communist society (rather an essay than a novel), and the book describes it as aimed at self-actualization and having high occupation mobility. Also there are no 'extended families', and the concept of relatives is pointless. There is no reason for people to be afraid of each other, therefore they aren't trying to protect anybody particular.
Ohhh, Yefremov is so cool. If you want more stuff like that, read Strugackis.
Yeah, I'm not exactly read up on theory or anything but I know lots of socialists/anarchists/leftists of that stripe generally view their collectivist ideologies as the only way to ensure self-actualisation, in the sense that you aren't really free if your choices are wage slavery or starve to death.
This is a false dichotomy.
Yeah, and I see the bias in the last point lol.
Also, how can anyone's interests prevail in a consensus-based society? Doesn't that imply everyone's interests are being met for things to work?
There is no dichotomy, as the social psychology model explicitly treats it as a spectrum, as OP noted in the title.
Coincidentally, this is generally how I interpret the Chaotic-Lawful axis when I think about D&D Alignment. Societies that are usually described as being lawful tend to get described in ways that fall under the collectivist column, and those which normally get called chaotic are usually described with individualist qualities.
Most of my world building is in medieval fantasy settings. Additionally most cultures are more collectivist than the US.
In one case I had fun developing a culture with a focus on group magic. They are a devastating force of chanting soldiers on the battlefield.
Most countries in my world are collectivist until the last three, where it could go either way depending on where you are
I really think this division is largely artificial and question how practical it is.
The reason I say this is because "collectivist" cultures are collectivist because this is how you ensure that every individual has a fair shot and gets at least a bare minimum of what they need to live.
Meanwhile, highly "individualist" cultures tend to ignore the rights and concerns of large swaths of individuals in order to prop up other certain individuals of "merit".
It really feels more to me like a division between stratified and egalitarian societies. I'm deeply skeptical of the idea that extremely "individualistic" cultures care about each individual. If that were the case, they wouldn't allow large populations (minorities, immigrants, the poor, etc.) to suffer. Meanwhile, extremely "collectivist" cultures seem to care very deeply about the basic needs of a much broader range of the population. Is there a highly stratified "collectivist" culture? Is there a truly egalitarian "individualist" culture? I can't name any.
I think this framing exists largely to hide the fact that what we're really talking about is the justifying ideology for inequality.
>The reason I say this is because "collectivist" cultures are collectivist because this is how you ensure that every individual has a fair shot and gets at least a bare minimum of what they need to live.
Feudalism was highly collectivist and provided none of that. You didn't have any shot whatsoever, fair or otherwise, to have any control over your own life. And you often didn' get what you needed.
Modern capitalist states on the other hand have fair and open courts, nearly no hunger and free education while being hyper individualist.
>I think this framing exists largely to hide the fact that what we're really talking about is the justifying ideology for inequality.
Kim Jong Un doesn't seem to have much issue justifying inequality in his collectivist system. Neither did King George.
> Feudalism was highly collectivist and provided none of that.
In what way was *feudalism* collectivist? What's your argument here?
> Modern capitalist states on the other hand have fair and open courts, nearly no hunger and free education while being hyper individualist.
What capitalist society are you describing here? Certainly not the US or Canada. Maybe somewhere in Europe? Then again, Europe isn't extremely "individualist", so I guess you mean the US? If that's the case, are you aware that 1 out 3 children in the US are "food insecure" (the word used in place of "starving")?
> Kim Jong Un doesn't seem to have much issue justifying inequality in his collectivist system.
Well, neither do other countries. Inequality in North Korea is far less than the US, for instance, as many of the richest people on Earth are in the US. The gap between the richest American and the richest North Korean is many times larger than the gap between the poorest American and the poorest North Korean after all. This isn't an argument in defense of North Korea, but rather, a banal statement of facts about the comparative levels of inequality and a nation's ability to justify it.
>In what way was feudalism collectivist? What's your argument here?
[Basically every aspect of society was organized at a collective level](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feudalism). It's basically the archetypical collectivist system.
>What capitalist society are you describing here? Certainly not the US or Canada. Maybe somewhere in Europe? Then again, Europe isn't extremely "individualist", so I guess you mean the US? If that's the case, are you aware that 1 out 3 children in the US are "food insecure" (the word used in place of "starving")?
[No, not even close](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Food_Security_Index). Statistically, famine at any level is virtually unheard of in the developed world. Especially the US, which ranks 3rd globally on food security (behind only Singapore and Ireland).
>Inequality in North Korea is far less than the US
> Basically every aspect of society was organized at a collective level. It's basically the archetypical collectivist system.
Okay, that is the Wikipedia entry on feudalism, but what's your argument? All societies and human organizations are organized at the collective level. "We live in a society". What makes feudalism in particular more collectivist than other such organized activities?
> Statistically, famine at any level is virtually unheard of in the developed world.
You can find [random articles](https://www.cbsnews.com/news/child-hunger-1-in-3-families-with-kids-dont-have-enough-food/) all over about food insecurity in the US, especially since the pandemic / recession started. Hunger is not unheard of in the developed world - it's often just made invisible.
From looking up with a quick search, I couldn't find any source that placed the US at higher than 11th in food security. That being said, any cursory overview of the history of capitalism as a whole reveals a lot of starvation. It happened immediately after the policy of enclosure in Britain and includes most of US history until the great labor movements of the early 20th century. It seems to me an ahistoric or selective view of history to make the claim that capitalism is particularly effective at feeding people. With the movement towards charter schools and private schools and the ramping up of healthcare costs, housing costs, food costs, and the open corruption of the government due to corporate influence, it seems bizarre to me to claim that it's capitalism that provided any of these things on its own. It seems to me that it took labor uprisings, which were very bloody affairs, to achieve any of the things you attribute above to capitalism.
Is there anything particularly egalitarian about the capitalist system that shows that extreme individualism isn't just greed and inequality?
We have billionaires in the US that are richer and more powerful than third world countries like North Korea. There's no way a third world country could compete with that level of inequality, that's just basic math. When you're talking about the difference between a poor American or North Korean, you're talking about a few hundred dollars, not a few billion or hundred billion. The bottom in the US might not be quite as low (though it's probably not all that much higher if you include the undocumented work, prison labor, and outsourced labor the US economy depends on), but the top are in completely different categories. North Korea is a poor country while the US isn't. If anything, North Korea has an easier time justifying its inequality to its people due to its limitations while the US really doesn't have any excuse.
Individualistic society often has the “every man for himself” mentality. Instead of worrying about the well-being of the community people are encouraged to care more about immediate family and themselves. This leads to greater income inequality and mistreatment of the poor/minorities.
Ofcourse as with much of social psychology the individualism vs collectivism spectrum is mostly theory! It’s not a necessary part of world building by any means I just thought it’s an interesting concept to think about if it sparks your interest.
Yeah, that's why I commented. It seems to be a misnomer if "individualism" means "screw everyone else". That's not caring about individuals; that's just selfishness. Perhaps another way to categorize this divide is between more selfish to more altruistic societies. Specifically calling a society that does *not* care about the individual as "individualist" just rubs me the wrong way and feels like some kind of propaganda messaging; something I'd hate to reproduce in my worlds.
Of course, the discussion it sparks makes it worth bringing up and can lead to an interesting analysis for a setting to use. After all, constructed worlds should be made to comment on the real one in some way or they're boring.
Ohhh I see!!! Yeah that makes sense.
I’m pretty sure this graph was made in the US which is very “individualistic” itself so I’m sure there’s some propaganda involved
Questions, does social networks include social media?
And can you explain what you mean by occupation mobility and why it's lower? I assumed it means it's harder to change jobs/roles, which I don't see why that would necessarily be the case.
And what does "task prevails over relationship / relationship prevails over task" mean in general?
Individualism vs collectivism is a pretty artificial dichotomy. It's something people use to ignore the deeper nuances of cultures and historical development. I prefer just using a genealogical method to track how certain characteristics arise in cultures. Better yet, use both diachronic and synchronic analyses.
For example, maybe the first two or three rows apply for the most part, but the others seem dubious. Especially something like social media as a means of news seems unqualified to explain the level of individualism vs collectivism. Even more when you consider that "media" is not that different from social media, just a difference in who gets to participate in the conversation.
Edit: for those downvoting, also consider that there may be a Western exoticism at play here. "Individualism" is a construct from European humanism and liberalism. They would point to cultures stratified into classes and castes and ignore features like eg. the meritocratic process of Chinese imperial examinations, all the while ignoring the stratification of Western nations into royals, nobles, mercantile, servants, even slaves.
Also the GDP categorization is sus. Of course Western nations who had hundreds of years to extract resources from their colonies and slaves will have higher GDP than nations recently freed from the yoke of imperialism to rebuild their stunted societies. There is a lot of bias here that needs to be sorted out by referring to actual history than something that resembles a horoscope.
From my understanding it’s meant to be used as a spectrum! Culture is deeply nuanced and a lot of social psychology is theory. So you can definitely take this with a grain of salt if you disagree.
I do think it’s an interesting concept though and posted here as I thought it might help people flesh out their worlds.
Yep, sorry, I didn't meant to come off as aggressive against you. I think it's an artificial and superficial categorization such that everything will fall in the middle of the spectrum anyways, but it's fine to use such models as long you know the limitations of it, especially if you're going for the harder style of worldbuilding.
Just a personal grievance of mine that worldbuilding often skews towards European worldviews. Hopefully I am doing more help than harm when pointing things out like this. I try to be more diverse in my own project since I could never really identify with the worlds I've engaged with in literature and media as a non-European, and would love to see new projects do the same for others like myself.
Cheers though, your post was definitely thought-provoking!
Kind of depends on the country in my world. In Lantene and Nurea, things are very collectivist. Sarene is rather collectivist as well. Irta and Aralyn are kind of in the middle while Dervi skews slightly more towards the individualist side (this particular country has a collective psyche reminsicent of the Enlightement and Scientific Revolution, so that isn’t too surprising).
Arene, the country that I’ve worked on the most, appears to be very individualistic, but they have a very collective dimension as well, and their culture is a precarious balance between the two sides. As for the remaining country (Meran), I’m actually not sure.
Update: Meran may be a bit more on the individualist side; either that or they are perceived to be as such, particularly by Arenians [a common theme in Arenian literature is Merani characters spending time in Arene and eventually abandoning their materialistic values. An example is a historical fiction novel, *Ėveth er Rivu*, where a (non-fictional) Merani colonel, Ėveth Arvita, heads to the Arenian town of Verania for a relative’s funeral, which lasts for several weeks, as is customary in Arene. During his stay, he meets and becomes enamoured with the (fictional) Rivu Adera, an elegant and gentle soul who values, like any good Arenian, the simple pleasures that life can bring. (He’s also the local butcher.) By the end of the funerary period, Ėveth decides to stay in Verania with Rivu, having discovered what is truly important in life.]
On Venus, the most privileged Civilians are more individual, poorer civilians are considerably collective, and the enslaved/segregated Rose Champagnes are highly collective
I like to use a mix. As /u/Sakul_Aubaris mentioned, the difference between Collectivist and Individualist is more of a spectrum than a strong distinction, and I have cultures that fall in a variety of different places on that spectrum.
[The DroCh](https://crayshack.com/2021/07/23/the-droch/) are definitely more Collectivist than not. To the point where it actually becomes an issue where they struggle to understand that some other species don't have a unified society. They are neighbored by a Centaur culture that is split into several different kingdoms and the DroCh treat a conflict with one of those kingdoms as a conflict with all Centaurs.
[Sentient Warships](https://crayshack.com/2021/05/28/sentient-warships/) are much more individualistic. They are Collectivist in that they see their crew as a single unit that operates as a group, but even when entering a larger organized group such as a Navy they maintain a high degree of independence.
[This Hivemind](https://crayshack.com/2021/06/10/hivemind/) is about as Collectivist as is possible. Millions of people sharing a single conscious mind. As a result, in some ways, they operate like a highly collectivist culture.
My Storm Souls (haven't actually posted a full writeup about them) are about as Individualist as possible. They can go years or even centuries without ever speaking to another member of their race, feeling content to either only socialize with humans or do something like becoming a hermit in the woods. When they interact with other members of their species, they often end up fighting each other. For the ones that are friendly with each other, they often only interact for a relatively short period of time (a couple years at the most) before they get the urge to wander off on their own.
As a result of their connection to Mana, the creative force of the universe, Elves in my world tend to naturally form hive minds. Well, "hive mind" might be a little extreme, but it is a known phenomenon that elves which live and work in close proximity to each other tend to develop an almost-supernatural level of awareness and empathy for one another. Everyone in an elven commune knows when one of them is sick, without needing to be told. When they gather for sporting events, they all clap and cheer in unison, which is extremely fucking disturbing to humans in attendance.
Notably there is no higher power directing their actions, and the elves themselves are rarely even aware that what their doing is odd. Everything just *works*, as if everyone is moving to the rhythm of a song that no one else can hear. Elves often report a feeling of peace and tranquility when they are "tuned in", and one of the most common causes of depression and anxiety in Elves is social isolation or orstracism.
All over the spectrum.
My most collectivist society is actually my most individualist society too.
Basically, in one of my scifi settings, humans have fully developed Brain-computer interfaces.
Human sensory input is completely AI generated and they live their entire life in a virtual reality.
Their real bodies are controlled by the AI to do to work needed to keep the collective alive.
Most of the work has been automated but what is left is done by the ai controlled human bodies.
The society is collective because all humans are contributing for a whole world collective (without their knowledge) but each individual lives in their own VR bubble so in a way it is individualistic.
The AI also tests humans to choose the best among them to subtly train them into different roles.
Some of these humans end up learning of how the world works and are tasked with AI aiding it with decisions it has low confidence over .
In some iterations of this world the VR trapped humans are able to freely interact with other humans in VR chat room-like hubs. In other iterations only the leader humans ever get to truly communicate with another person.
Unlike in the matrix people cannot really break out, after all the brain-computer interface cuts off all motor/sensory functions from the brain.
My main world actually uses both! Elves and dwarves are closer to collectivism while humans, descers and fairies are more on the individualism side
The Shturmovik and Bolshevik factions in my world don't fit cleanly into either category. The conservative and technocratic factions which include the Bolshevik Party encourage a high level of individualism when it comes to pre-approved forms of expression but are extremely collectivist when it comes to the government they are extremely collectivist and consider it immoral to question the government because it harms everyone else.
The progressive Shturmovik Party values personal freedom but they promote communal societies and they pay universal income for conservatives living in cities with existential dysphoria who can barely function. They're also much more conformist and strongly oppose quirkiness and geekiness. The party line is that both of those qualities are pipelines toward far-right radicalization and violence because they lead to social isolation and psychosis. The Shturmovik government pays for free guns so they're very collectivist on mental health issues while their opponents are very individualistic and think that a schizophrenic person raving on the street should be free to be themselves. The progressive view though is that such a person is not free because they're a slave to their mental illness and it's the duty of free men to help slaves liberate themselves.
My world is honestly somewhere in the middle, perhaps a bit more on the collective side. Statements from both sides fit.
I have a wide range of societies. Two examples towards the extreme on this society:
* The Holy Kaelthian Republic is a communitarian theocracy, where "defying consensus" is the most serious sin/crime. What you do and who you marry and where you live (etc) is decided by the community, which includes the broader meta-communities and is mediated and advised by the priests. If this sounds creepy...that's not unintentional. It's a super satisfied, happy place. As long as you're willing to subordinate the self to the collective. If you don't, you might get "re-educated", sent to the southern frontier to pioneer, or be exiled.
* The basic unit of draconic society is the Flight, consisting of one ancient and 1-4 adult dragons (usually the Ancient's mate and one more couple, with maybe a solo dragon). The ancient rules, but only lightly. Flights share territory and are allies, but not much more than that. And inter-Flight rules are set by the Law of the Flight, a set of principles that all adults (except outcastes) agree to, which boil down to "don't help short-lives interfere with other dragons (especially don't lead short-lives to other dragons' lairs), don't interfere with hatchlings, ask before hunting or meddling with mortals in someone else's territory and generally mind your own business. If you do, we'll mind our own. If you don't, everyone else will gang up and destroy you."
I doubt any world would fall on either side, since mono-cultural worlds sound quite boring, at least to me. I'll go by some countries instead:
Highly individualist. Most people who ended up here permanently left their societies behind intentionally, or are otherwise removed from the regular people in their homelands. There are a lot of adventurers, entrepreneurs, deserters, criminals, pirates, etc. who came here. Dealing with immigrants from collectivist societies is an issue that needed to be addressed by the law, which now prohibits many forms of common collectivist practices (e.g. only consensual marriage, with a very low bar for it to be considered coercion\*; taking your children/family member's possessions is considered theft, with a similarly low bar for coercion; ban on 'overreaching contracts' - e.g. having to surrender 100% of your income to your family - null and void). Additionally, the government has been actively helping people break free from social bonds/pressure (e.g. helping c
\*something as 'little' as telling your family members that you will disown them or make them homeless will be considered coercion, and could in the worst case have you give a good portion of your liquid assets to the person you tried to coerce (e.g. if you threaten to throw your student daughter out if she doesn't marry person X, the state could punish you by giving your house to her).
**Grey Wolf Clan**
Opposite end of the spectrum. Their population is in the lower five digits and are geographically isolated, so the social bonds are rather strong and people tend to know a lot of the people they walk past in the streets. Households tend to be fairly large, but usually not inter-generational (i.e. most live with their lovers and one or two other groups of lovers). Blood relations have fairly little importance, and children are often raised by more than just their parents.
Even so, individuality is considered important, and there is much room for members to live as they please, as long as it is not detrimental to others. Divergent sexuality (i.e. hetero- or homosexuality) is sometimes considered strange and hard to imagine, but otherwise accepted. People are free to build houses just for themselves, but this will likely evoke pity from fellow Grey Wolves (but might actually increase the number of invitations you receive to stay at other people's places), since being alone all the time would be a miserable, lonely experience for most, when the average member can hardly even imagine just living with one lover.
Work is almost always done not for personal gain, but for a larger group. When you need to build a house, you will usually enjoy the support of the community, which will in turn expect you to help them later on with your field of expertise. Different jobs also don't have the same difference in status in society, other than shamans and warriors (both all-female jobs by law). Most resource intensive or essential productions are overseen by the administration, which also allocates the products to individual households. However, a lot of resources that are scarce in human countries are abundant here (animals, land, iron, plants\*). Other than that, services are usually provided free of charge, if the favor is mutual. Only outsiders are made to pay in foreign currency, which is then handed over to the administration for their dealings with Aerilon.
\*plants grow noticeably faster and to higher quality in the area they live in
Alone you may be strong
But Together is Mighter
Apes together strong
I think you're trying to condense a very complex topic into a neat little package and ended up being overly reductive, biased, and creating a few false dichotomies. I am not sure this resource is very useful.
I'm sorry for being so harsh.
The lower the tech and quality of life, the more collectivist the people tend to be.
This seems kind of suspect….
I suppose my society tends to fall more towards collectivism. Rather than families, children are born into their immediate communities, usually consisting of 30-50 adults, though it's sometimes more. They're raised by everyone in the community, though the couple who birthed them will be their primary source of food, shelter, and emotional support. Once they reach the age of 10, they're taken to a soul reader to find out what they're meant to do with their lives. At that point, their primary provider becomes whoever can train them in their assigned profession. If their profession is not needed in their community or if there's nobody to mentor them, they're sent away to the nearest viable mentor. Sometimes they will come back their original community after their training, but more often they simply become a part of their mentor's community. This keeps all of the small communities (not sure exactly how many there are in this particular society yet, but I'm thinking maybe a dozen?) connected to each other without having to rely on political marriages to join them together.
Because of this connection, these communities consider themselves to be part of the same small nation state, and they frequently keep in contact and trade resources regularly, so any problems experienced by one group are usually offset by the aid of its neighbors.
One thing I had never considered was how high-context and low-context communication would play a part in this dynamic. That's something that I'd definitely like to look more in to!
Well I don't know about my WORLD, but the primary culture I focus on is deliberately a more collectivist one. I try to have good logical reasons for everything and in this case it's because the dominant religions all believe in permanent reincarnation: there's no nirvana state of ending the cycle, so if you're going to essentially live forever on this planet in this society, there's a pretty strong motivation to NOT let the planet and society devolve into a shithole. Unlike certain dominant cultures in our own world.
Collectivist, largely due to increased tribalism and religious/political fanaticism
This chart is such a gross oversimplification of the centuries long struggle between individual rights and community responsibility that I find it offensive.
No... just no. Everything about this... eugh.
Literally the main conflict in Anthem by Ayn Rand
Neither political soapboxing nor accusing others of being "racist" for disagreeing with you are appropriate here. This is not an acceptable form of discourse on r/Worldbuilding.
Because you have been recently had a moderator message you on very similar issues, this is a formal warning: Further issues of this type may result in a temporary or even permanent ban from r/Worldbuilding.
Questions may be addressed via [modmail](https://www.reddit.com/message/compose/?to=/r/worldbuilding).
Join collectivism, we have hive minds. And employment for everyone. And free housing, healthcare and education. And cookies. *calmly reloads AK-740M*
My ethics would be first three collectivist and rest individualist. You need a collectivist foundation to build up any individual.
You can also have a mix of both too. For example you can have royal clans to prepare successors for the throne (With primary and secondary, and so on lines if you want) of people that think in "we" and the resources are not theirs but their families as well as "tribes" among plebeians as in houses where a few families share a house and take cae of each other but they keep their individuality and therefore theres a lot of filial thoughts and fraternity even among non blood related people yet everyone would seek the "life of a merchant" where they hold no titles but enough resoruces to lvie alone and hire maids and nannies, etc etc
In general I think the distinction is too "harsh", and is more like a spectrum
well most of the commonwelath and republic for that matter are rather collectivist but in english that would translate back to "communist" so right in between the "big three" (Kavyrna, Fuijan, and Kuzoichi) theres just a big blob of pessimists (Imaakyrans).
All across the spectrum! I try to ensure my worlds feel big enough by mirroring ours in aspects of human nature. In this scenario, it's that human cultures fall all across the spectrum based on geography, religion, socioeconomic factors and even resource accessibility.
Depends on what era we are in. IRL pretty much all people were far far more collectivist than in the modern world.
Well in my world, the nations of Korissa, Keinwé, Sverhal, Hajshti, East Mascia, and Serviol are much more collectivist leaning, where Keinwé and Korissa are the most collectivist of them.
Jandorii, West Mascia, Mildova, Rudal, and Yurink are rather individualist. Where Mildova and Jandorii have the most individualist aspects to them.
Kelthar are a very collectivist society. It didn’t always use to be that way, but years of attacks from the Shadow brought everyone closer to each other (except the Arcane Clan, who don’t care if the world burns as longs as the reality doesn’t break). Although, there are some individualistic aspects, primarily involving self-actualization.
queue the 50,000 “comedians” making a joke about communism for the trillionth time
Loving this comparison chart. Is this from academia and if so, would you mind sharing the source? Otherwise, if this is part of your worldbuilding fiction, way to go, it's legit.
If my assumptions regarding the definitions this graph is based on are correct, then the answer to the last point is actually quite simple: GDP only takes into account monetary transactions.
This graph likely assumes an individualist society will be market dependent, and as such will have plenty of monetary transactions. But, in contrast, a collectivist society will *not* be marker dependent. Instead, whatever collective organ administers resources will be able to requisition and distribute them without need for any monetary transaction. So, measuring the GDP becomes far more difficult.
For example, all measures of the Soviet Union GDP you may find are not only different but also, for all intents and purposes, conjectures, based on a mix of production ratios, black market exchanges, and the actual market part of the Soviet economy. Yet while alone these measures *might* offer a sufficient comparison to capitalist market economies, a perfect conversion is impossible, especially since even the ruble isn't comparable to other currencies in use or value.
Mnor is very very individualistic.
Your not anyone else , but one individual you.
That’s the ultimate truth. You as an individual. That’s consciousness, self, you.
Talvarians and Cotrons fall somewhere in the middle.
While Talvarians are very individualistic, they also focus on providing for the group and will do their best to ensurethe survival of their kin, always having someone else's survival and prosperity in the back of their mind, Cotrons, on the other hand, are kind of "networked" together; they share common memories of their predecessors and can communicate telepathically, but are dedicated introverts and loners, hence the joke that two Cotrons in one place is a gathering.
Rhee and Precursors fall similarly, but in a different way. Both species are collectively antisocial. They are forced to have no individuality, but end up caring only for themselves.
Really depends on the country. New Catopia; a corrupt capitalist aristocracy, is pretty far on the individualist side, and on the opposite end, Euroiet; a psychotic communist dictatorship, is incredibly collectivist.
THIS aaaaalllll of this
Depends on the Company or Homeworld culture you're looking at. Most of the Companies are more collectivist, though, while most of the Homeworlds layer that with a lot more individualism. I guess that has to do with covering large swaths of the universe vs taking up a single solar system. If you live on a random mining planet, you kinda have to be more collectivist since the one thing you're rich in everyone immediately around you has in abundance also.
Also that last line is sus and feels like it's based on limited historical examples rather than inherent to the spectrum.
This "individualist vs collectivist" bullshit is akin to phrenology and I hope it goes that way soon too. It's just self-fellating nonsense.