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Well, the "DDT revised" tread reminded me that very often peer reviewed journals are not a source of debate. From my personal experience newspapers are not a very good at interpreting serious researches, so I went and look what science journals have to say about - individualism and collectivism (these seems to be a popular topic on this forum). This abstract of one review revealed the main problem:

J Soc Psychol. 2002 Aug;142(4):461-80. Related Articles, Links


Quote:The myth of individualism-collectivism: a critical review.

Voronov M, Singer JA.

Department of Organization and Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University, USA.

The authors critically assess the dimension of individualism-collectivism (I-C) and its various uses in cross-cultural psychology. They argue that I-C research is characterized largely by insufficient conceptual clarity and a lack of systematic data. As a result, they call into question the utility of I-C as an explanatory tool for cultural variation in behavior, suggest alternative dimensions for cross-cultural research, and interpret the weaknesses of research on I-C as illustrative of a general trend in social psychology.

Unfortunately this review is not available on the internet. As it seems, lack of conceptual clarity is a big problem, in most cases the distinction is explained trough cross-cultural differences. I have found two papers that I hope you will be able to get for free, here are just conclusions from both papers:

Quote:Organizational Individualism and Collectivism: Theoretical Development and an Empirical Test of a Measure • ARTICLE
Journal of Management, Volume 28, Issue 4, August 2002, Pages 544-566
Christopher RobertS. Arzu Wasti


Conclusions
Although the results of this study provide good empirical evidence for the validity of the organizational individualism and collectivism constructs, we believe that the most important aspect of this study was the demonstration of the utility of applying more general cultural theory to the study of organizational cultures. We emphasize that the growing literature pertaining to societal cultures describes a wide web of relationships between culture, behavior, and psychological variables, and that this literature can be utilized to understand how individuals influence organizations and societies, or the reverse. In the present global business environment in which multi-national enterprises operate within numerous cultural contexts, it may be extremely useful to be able to describe societal cultures, individual values, and organizational cultures with a common theoretical language. Such a common language might help predict and explain a wide variety of organizational phenomena that can only be described properly with reference to cross-level relationships. In the context of increasingly common joint ventures, restructurings, mergers, and acquisitions, the ability to discuss potential clashes of individual values, organizational cultures, or societal cultures as separate but related phenomena may help focus efforts to integrate employees in and across different organizational units. We believe that this type of multi-level conceptualization of culture represents a fairly elegant approach to some of the extraordinarily complex issues that face modern organizations, and suggests promising avenues for future research.

Individualism, Collectivism, and Opportunism: A Cultural Perspective on Transaction Cost Economics • ARTICLE
Journal of Management, Volume 28, Issue 4, August 2002, Pages 567-583
Chao C. ChenMike W. PengPatrick A. Saparito


Conclusion
"Every stream of research … has strengths and weaknesses and stands to benefit from good critics" (Williamson, 1999: 1093). Since TCE "aspires to influence as well as understand behavior" ( Masten, 1993, p. 120), it needs to respond to the strong criticisms leveled at its under-specified assumption of opportunism. Instead of asking "Is this economic player (an employee or a supplier) opportunistic?" We suggest that a more relevant question is "Under what circumstances is this economic player likely to be opportunistic?" and argue that one answer to this question lies in one’s cultural prior conditioning of individualism and collectivism. In conclusion, we believe that with this article as an important first step, an expanded TCE paradigm equipped with a cultural perspective represents a move toward more realistically and sensitively dealing with problems of economic organization in today’s global economy.

And a direct question for our antropologist on the board: considering that the closest relatives of human race practice harem poligamy (one boss, a few priviledged, the other just loosers), is such a system natural for human kind rather than individualism and/or collectivism?
Which closest relatives are you referring to COS?
What is collectivism?
And what is individualism?
All descriptions I have read so far were rather nonsense.
The Keenedy's wording : "Don't ask what America did for you, ask yourself what you did for America" I hold for a principle of collectivism.
Green Wrote:What is collectivism?
And what is individualism?
All descriptions I have read so far were rather nonsense.
The Keenedy's wording : "Don't ask what America did for you, ask yourself what you did for America" I hold for a principle of collectivism.

Kennedy was talking about altruism, not collectivism.

Collectivism holds that the individual is not an end to himself, but is only a tool to serve the ends of the group.

What is the key principle underlying collectivism?

The theory of collectivism (in all its variants) holds that man is not an end to himself, but is only a tool to serve the ends of others. Collectivism, unlike individualism, holds the group as the primary, and the standard of moral value. Whether that group is a dictator's gang, the nation, society, the race, (the) god(s), the majority, the community, the tribe, etc., is irrelevant -- the point is that man in principle is a sacrificial victim, whose only value is his ability to sacrifice his happiness for the will of the "group".
What is the opposite of collectivism?

The opposite of collectivism is individualism. Individualism declares that each and every man, may live his own life for his own happiness, as an end to himself. Politically, the result of such as principle is capitalism: a social system where the individual does not live by permission of others, but by inalienable right.

And right here is a page that has many explanations for you.
Wow, what big words!!!
What's the difference between altruism and collectivism then?
Can we hold a family an example of collectivism or altruism or individualism?
Green Wrote:Can we hold a family an example of collectivism or altruism or individualism?

hmmm.

Are we leading into....

...that if collectivism is the family unit, and the family makes up society, therefore a society should be collectivist as well?
Quote:Don't forget that pure democracy is a form of collectivism -- it readily sacrifices individual rights to majority wishes. Since it involves no constitutional bill of rights, or at least, no working and effective one, the majority-of-the-moment can and does vote away the rights of the minority-of-the-moment, even of a single individual. This has been called 'mob rule,' the 'tyranny of the majority' and many other pejorative names. It is one of the greatest threats to liberty, the reason why America's founding fathers wrote so much so disparagingly of pure democracy." -- Bert Rand
Gunnen4u Wrote:
Green Wrote:Can we hold a family an example of collectivism or altruism or individualism?

hmmm.

Are we leading into....

...that if collectivism is the family unit, and the family makes up society, therefore a society should be collectivist as well?

I just want to say that to be a good husband or wife one should sacrifice him/herslf to their kids and to each other. Because it's called love. Love doesn't care about itself. The same is appliable to the country you live in.
Actually, I think that individual trend in society prevails over collective one when the society reach certain level of welfare and family values get eroded. We don't need big families with many kids to support us in chair days any more. This function is delivered to the pension system. Every member of modern "compact family" perfectly knows his own rights due to huge abstract layer of laws he is protected with from other people. The modern human have only rights and no duties, which are very arbitrary and named as altruism. So instead of talking it over heartily in the inner circle we have divorce processes in courts.

I don't say anything new, though.
Green, you are asking all the right questions here. Let me take a few points seperately.

First, within the basic familial unit, collectivism and altruism are perfectly logical to use. It works. But the more complex the unit, the more difficult it is to make this system adhere to the principle of seeking the maximum good of that unit.

Granted altruism is not only to be expected within the family, but it is one of the atributes that works toward it's success. But it does not work well when it is tried with groups who have differing goals or needs. And the greater the unit, the greater the chance of breakdown.

But let's omit the smallest unit, the family. It is society as a whole that the principles are most relevent. And with regards to your desire to understand altruism, you should note that there are two types of altruism: societal altruism and individual altruism. They are different. And Individualists, such as myself deem societal altruism bad, and even possibly evil.

Here is a good definition of societal altruism as seen by the Ayn Rand folks.

Altruism
It is altruism that has corrupted and perverted human benevolence by regarding the giver as an object of immolation, and the receiver as a helplessly miserable object of pity who holds a mortgage on the lives of others - a doctrine which is extremely offensive to both parties, leaving men no choice but the roles of sacrificial victim or moral cannibal...
Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, June 1966


Altruism is a code of ethics which hold the welfare of others as the standard of "good", and self-sacrifice as the only moral action. The unstated premise of the doctrine of altruism is that all relationships among men involve sacrifice. This leaves one with the false choice between maliciously exploiting the other person (forcing them to be sacrificed) or being "moral" and offering oneself up as the sacrificial victim. Why is the second considered good? Apparently because Jesus said so.

But the dichotomy of sacrifice or exploit is false. Between rational people, there should never be any sacrifice involved nor conflict of interest. The true moral interaction between two people should be an interaction as traders - trading value for value in a mutually agreed on and beneficial manner.

This is not to say that benevolence and good will are immoral. It is only sacrifice that is immoral, and being generally benevolent is not a sacrifice but a benefit and a virtue. The difference is that to be "good" according to Altruism, one must hand out blank checks to all who claim a need; while according to Egoism, ones own life is one's ultimate standard of value against which all acts must be analyzed.
------------------------

As long as society asks it's citizens to show altruism, and the citizens willingly decide to do so, that is a case of individualistic altruism. For example, the US has an all volunteer military. It naturally expects sacrifice of it's soldiers, but because it is voluntary, it is not bad.

What is bad is when the State requires that it's citizens sacrifice themselves when they do not willingly chose to do so. Within Collectivist systems, altruism is expected of it's citizens because the very principle of Collectivism is that the group takes precidence over the individual. As you are well aware, under Stalinist USSR, if you chose not to sacrifice yourself for the state, you would either wind up in some gulag or a bullet in the back of the head.

Now the opposite of altruism is selfishness. But is selfishness bad? Depends. Ayn Rand preached about the virtue of selfishness.. And this article talks about the good and bad forms of selfishness.

And here is what my hero, Dr Walter E Williams has to say about the virtue of Greed. It is a real classic, and i am going to put it out here so you can't bypass it unless you activly choose to do so. I know that this does not cover everything for you, but it is a good start.

The Virtue of Greed

You can call it greed, selfishness, or enlightened self-interest; but the bottom line is that it's these human motivations that get wonderful things done. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it's compassion, concern, and "feeling another's pain" that's the superior human motivation. As such we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and hustlers.

Since it's not considered polite to come out and actually say that greed gets wonderful things done, let me go through a few of the millions of examples. There's probably widespread agreement that it's a wonderful thing that most of us own cars. Is there anyone who believes that the reason we have cars is because Detroit assembly line workers care about us? It's also wonderful that Texas cattle ranchers make the sacrifices of time and effort caring for steer so that New Yorkers can enjoy a steak now and then. Again, is there anyone who believes that ranchers who make these sacrifices do so out of a concern for and feeling the pain of New Yorkers? The true reason why we enjoy cars, steaks and millions of other goods and services is because people care mostly about themselves. Now ask yourself: how much steak would New Yorkers have if it all depended on human love, kindness and feeling the pain of others? I'd feel sorry for New Yorkers.

This is what Adam Smith, the father of economics, meant in "The Wealth of Nations" when he said, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interests." Smith also said, "I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." In other words, the public good is promoted best by people pursuing their own private interests. This bothers some people because they're more concerned with motives than with results.

Tactics broadly condemned as exploitative also serve a valuable social function. Let's look at price-gouging complaints when Hurricane Floyd took aim at the East Coast. After Florida and Georgia governors callously ordered evacuation of millions of citizens, there were complaints of gasoline station dealers raising the price of gasoline. Though the gasoline dealers were motivated by profits, their actions served the public interest. "Okay, Williams," you say, "explain that one." Say gas prices before the hurricane threat was $1.10 a gallon. You're running low or have a half-tank and just want to fill up. If the price stayed at $1.10, you'd fill up. But what if the price rose to $1.75? A lot of people would probably say, "I'm only going 100 miles inland so I'll make do with the half tank." Or, if you're riding on empty, at $1.75 a gallon, you just might decide to buy just a half tank and fill up when you get to your destination 100 miles inland.

Here's the question: in the wake of a mass evacuation, which is the preferable state of affairs - people's gas tanks filled half full enabling everyone to get away from the hurricane or many people with full gas tanks and gasoline stations out of gas and people stranded with empty fuel tanks? Another way to put this question is which would you prefer, particularly if you're driving on empty: gasoline being available at $1.75 a gallon or unavailable at the "fair" price of $1.10 a gallon? Again, gasoline dealers didn't intend to promote the public interest but by pursuing their own they did.

Free markets, private property rights, voluntary exchange and greed produce preferable outcomes most times and under most conditions.
If you had to choose between truth and Christ, which would be your choice?- Dostoevsky was asked.
-I would chose Christ.
Quote:What is bad is when the State requires that it's citizens sacrifice themselves when they do not willingly chose to do so. Within Collectivist systems, altruism is expected of it's citizens because the very principle of Collectivism is that the group takes precidence over the individual. As you are well aware, under Stalinist USSR, if you chose not to sacrifice yourself for the state, you would either wind up in some gulag or a bullet in the back of the head.
This system you describe was named totalitarism, the thing not quite the same to collectivism. Totalitarianism looses its ties with the group's vital interests, while collectivism is as natural for human beings as a need of communication, cooperation and elaboration of a strategy and tactics for the survival of the given group. I absolutely agree that "too much of collectivism" is bad, and individual interests of person should be taken into consideration. Moreover, the inclinations of the person can serve to the potential of the group, if they aren't under pressure.
The modern American philosophers call it "communitarism". Is it a step to socialism in the US? S1
I also agree that big groups like nations cannot make its units ( collectives, families, individuals) share one ideology and have the same interests, except several basic ones. To provide these basic needs is the goal of any democratic state.

All in all, I am for harmony of the individualist and collectivist principles.
I want to ask the following question:

I have an orphanage in my district. I have never been there. I want to buy gifts and sweets for the kids and bring them once. If I do it by myself, then I am selfish. If I do it with my mother, I am altruist. If I do it with ten of my friends , I am societal altruist. If I do it with the state authorities support (they give me a car to bring all the gifts and sweets to the orphanage), I am collectivist, perhaps. If the state authorities make me go to these kids, it's totalitarism.
But I'll never go to the orphanage, because I am too busy at forums like this one. I don't care about anybody.
WHO I AM THEN :?: :?: :?:
Damn. There was a reason why I put this tread into science section. What I wanted was to avoid the explanaition of words but rather trying to compare both concepts in some sort of quantitative way.

John, chimps have harem poligamy.
COS,
The problem is that we deem both -isms to be taken up at cross purposes. That means we can't make up definition as a norm.
Secondly, what do you hold a measure to these -isms?
The number of people who are adherent to this or that trend? Or the number of people that postulate themselves they are?
John.
"If life was ruled by reason only, the possibility of life itself would have disappeared"
Leo Tolstoy.
Green Wrote:Secondly, what do you hold a measure to these -isms?
The number of people who are adherent to this or that trend? Or the number of people that postulate themselves they are?

Measuring or comparing both -isms independently of cultural differences in order to assess which one results in greater prosperity. In other words: to argue with numbers rather than opinions on which one is better.
COS
Quote:Measuring or comparing both -isms independently of cultural differences in order to assess which one results in greater prosperity.
Then the answer is obvious and you know it.
Green Wrote:Then the answer is obvious and you know it.

I don't. I would say something in between, but not sure.
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