For a number of years, it has been generally believed that whereas the Eastern cultures tend to be more collective, the Western focuses more on individuality. Theoretically, the Eastern mindset of an individual is not conceived as a unique entity but a small part of a society; the bigger picture is what counts, and helping each other as a group is the way to succeed. In the meantime, Westerns tend to look at themselves as unique individuals who try to stand out for their
own achievements, frequently overlooking third parties.
These patterns are quite visible when comparing how Eastern immigrants behave in a Western society and vice versa. The Eastern newcomer often arrives to a place with their family or friends; once there, an already settled community of people from their home country or a similar society awaits to welcome him. In contrast, the Western newcomer usually gets to a place by themselves and do not necessarily seek help from within their communities; even if they do, they still aim for personal goals. It’s not strange to find out both kinds of immigrants experience issues like integration and cultural shock in very different ways.
These ideas, which have been historically influenced by philosophic and political trends, are currently being questioned by different sociologists and other experts. For example, they explain that the lack of union within Japanese families contradicts the theory of Eastern collectivism, whereas in Latin America families are very united.
What each can learn from the other?
As the world becomes smaller, cultural influences are slowly gaining ground in both directions. Collectivism is the key to big structural changes that require teamwork, unity, caring for one another, and being on the same page in terms of development; it is a way to help create better human connections and preserve cultural values. Individualism is not only important on a personal level; self-analysis may help bring different ideas to the forefront, which is extremely vital for the introduction of new rules that lead to tolerance and respect in a homogeneous society. A balance between the two of them is essential.