Collectivists in the United States

Lesson 2: Topic 7 of 19

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A recently married couple told me of their families’ involvement in their courtship. Both sets of parents were from India, and insisted on an arranged marriage. When telling me about this, Mariamma laughed. “It’s not what you think! In former times, the bride and groom wouldn’t see each other before the wedding. Our parents asked around about good Indian families looking for spouses. Family reputations are critical. We eventually met each other and spent time together before we decided that, yes, we really liked each other and could get married.”

Obviously these families remain strong Collectivists. But how do Collectivists view cultures that are more Individualist? Carefully consider this quote from an American business consultant’s observations on Individualism:

“The Japanese regard individuality as evidence of immaturity, and autonomy as the freedom to comply with one’s obligations and duties.” — W.M. Fox

What is your response to this? Americans tend to see “obligations and duties” as things to be freed from, right? This is a strikingly different viewpoint. How does this alter your understanding of how you might be perceived or how you see others?