Individualism versus Collectivism in light of the Coronavirus

In the middle of this coronavirus pandemic, that is challenging the entire world, it is fascinating to witness the externalization of the individualism and collectivism cultural dimension as its best.


While in many Asian countries, governments have decided to enforce mandatory measurements of confinement and social distancing, policy makers in the US and in some countries of Western Europe have initially opted for a relatively less rigorous approach letting individuals decide if they should or should not go out. This is obviously changing every day, as even in countries where personal freedom and induvial achievement are highly regarded are turning towards a more collective approach, implementing stricter rules to mitigate the spread of the virus and work toward a global objective. These measures might not be very popular in individualist contexts, but the population will need to adapt and cope with these challenging times in order for the new/stronger rules to produce the expected results.


Same applies for companies that are making their employees work from home and limit to zero the personal contact among coworkers. Although this might not be new or a challenge for firms in the US or in other developed countries where online working tools are common, it will be a stretch for corporations and small companies in less developed countries or in certain regions of the world, where personal interaction is still highly valued and preferred, even when making business.


Although it is very early and difficult to predict which approach will succeed at the end, most specialists seem to think that this spread is only going to stop with the collaboration of every individual. A sense of common good needs to prevail above any cultural traits in order to control the current situation and go back to normal life as we know it. This is probably easier to understand in the context of a collectivistic society that emphasizes group goals above personal needs or desires; however, we all will need to contribute (either forcefully or voluntarily) to achieve a greater good.

You may also like