Economy Are some countries doomed to high unemployment due to their genetic pool ?

I was reading in The Economist that "many of society's ills, from economic stagnation to poor social mobility, could be solved by creating a more entrepreneurial society." The timing couldn't be better as I had been thinking about that very issue lately. Why is it that northern European countries, especially Germanic ones, have for so long had a lower unemployment rate than other countries, regardless of the economic climate ? I believe this indeed has something to do with the fact that northern European people are a particularly entrepreneurial bunch. Not only are they less afraid of taking risks, they are also more individualistic and independent than almost any other cultural group on the planet. Northern Europeans are therefore more likely to be self-employed or to start their own company.

Eight years ago I wrote about individualism vs collectivism and the five cultural dimensions used by IBM psychologist Geert Hofstede to compare working cultures around the globe. The two most interesting dimensions are individualism and uncertainty avoidance.

Individualism is a trait shared by ethnically Celtic and Germanic countries. For instance, North Italy (Celtic) is very individualistic, while South Italy (Greek) is far more collectivist. All non-European cultures are strongly collectivist. Collectivist-minded people like to feel part of a group and are much more likely to become employees or civil servants. That is why in a country like Japan (Asian therefore collectivist), as developed as it is, people will almost always choose to work for a company (the bigger the better) rather than be self-employed. Even professionals like doctors, lawyers and architects prefer to work in shared offices or firms than have their own office as they would in northern Europe.

Uncertainty avoidance is a slightly more difficult concept to grasp. People with a high uncertainty avoidance will take all the measures they can to limit risks and have things under control at all time, trying to foresee any eventuality. They would plan a trip well in advance, booking their hotels ahead and knowing exactly where they would be going. Ideally they prefer to travel in organised tours rather than by themselves. It's safer and more comforting. Individuals with a low uncertainty avoidance will take a last minute flight without knowing exactly where they would be going and adjusting their plans on the spot.

Even legal systems reflect the level of uncertainty avoidance. Roman and Napoleonic legal system (high uncertainty avoidance) trying to codify every possible infringement of the law. In contrast, English common law is much more compact and flexible, privileging a case-by-case approach at the judge's discretion.

Like for collectivism, the "default" (or ancestral) human nature is a high uncertainty avoidance. According to Hofstede's scores, only the Scandinavians, Brits, Irish, Chinese and Vietnamese have a low uncertainty avoidance (the lowest being the Danes). There is surely a genetic factor too, since neighbouring populations (the Dutch, Finns, Southeast Asians) have an average score, and all other nationalities have a high score (even the Germans, who are more Celtic or Slavic in that regard).

When I was a student, I backpacked for a few months around Australia, and I was quite baffled by the fact that out of the hundreds of other backpackers I met, about 40% were English (not British as I only met one Scot and no Welsh), 30% were Dutch (but not a single Fleming), 20% were Scandinavian (mostly Danish), and the remaining 10% covered all other nationalities (mostly Japanese, German, Irish and French with a few occasional American, Canadian). Wherever you go around the world, you will always meet English and Dutch people. They have travel in their blood. The more out-of-the-beaten-track and adventurous the destination, the higher their proportion to other nationalities. I talk from experience, having myself travelled to about 50 countries.

I haven't met a single southern European backpacker in Australia and very few in India or Southeast Asia. I think that tells a lot about the cultural difference between northern and southern Europe. Interestingly, England and the Netherlands have the lowest combined scores for uncertainty avoidance and collectivism. In other words, English and Dutch people are individualistic, independent risk-takers. It is no surprise that they are so entrepreneurial too, and that they spawned vast colonial empires developed almost solely by private entrepreneurs (East & West India Companies) as opposed to state-sponsored expeditions like in the case of France, Spain, Germany or Japan.

Why do you think it is that English colonies fared so well ? Because more people migrated there to populate them ? Yes, but why ? British people having a low uncertainty avoidance, more individualistic and entrepreneurial, they were less afraid of leaving everything behind and migrate to the new colonies to start a new life. They were more successful at it too. In contrast, the Spaniards conquered the Americas in search for gold, silver and precious stones. They were motivated by greed, then usually came back to Spain to spend the fortune they had acquired. Others just went to convert the pagans (religious zeal). The most ethnically European former Spanish colonies today are Uruguay and Argentina, which both have big non-Iberian communities (French, Italian, German), mostly from 20th century immigration (far less adventurous than in past centuries). French colonies were almost only settled by the King's soldiers to protect the state's interests, but didn't attract a lot of immigrants. English colonies were not commissioned by the state, by individual enterprises, and each colony was completely independent from the next.

The Dutch colonisation of South Africa is the one rare other example of a major European colony founded by a group of people just leaving their homeland of their own will to create a new colony of their own without seeking fortune or thinking of extending their country's dominion. Actually the Dutch, Danes and Swedes all had minor colonies in North America that were all later absorbed by the mass of British migrants. This included New Amsterdam (now called New York), and what would become the states of New Jersey and Delaware (New Sweden).

I am convinced that entrepreneurialism, like individualism and uncertainty avoidance, is deeply rooted is one's genes. One cannot choose if he/she is individualistic or not, no more than he/she can choose if he is a risk-taker or not. The ugly truth behind this is that countries where the gene pool has a high percentage of entrepreneur-minded, independent ("self-employed-minded") people will naturally have a lower unemployment in equal circumstances compared to a country of collectivist-minded people with a high fear of risk. This is undoubtedly why northern European countries as well as Canada and Australia, founded mostly by risk-taking entrepreneurs from northern Europe, will always cope better in the adversity than southern European countries (or most non-Western countries). When the economy is bad, employees and civil servants get fired and less people are hired to replace those who retire. You can't lose your job if you are self-employed. You don't have to worry about being hired if you start own your business.

Instead of waiting for a company or the government to recruit them, the 50% of unemployed Spanish youths should try doing something useful and start their own businesses, instead of blaming society or the economy. Unless they just can't because their genes is preventing them, riddling them with fear. But who is to blame then ?
 
The most common problem in cultural studies is always one of definition. I used Geert Hofstede's definition of individualism and collectivism here :

"Individualism (IDV) on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are inte-grated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. The word 'collectivism' in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world."


Thanks, the definition is indeed my problem here. According to Hofstede:

- individualism: loose ties/interactions between individuals
- collectivism: strong ties/interactions between individuals

My own huble definition:

- individualism: loose or sparse ties/interactions between individuals
- collectivism: strong or frequent ties/interactions between individuals


Your refining approach by different categories is also good.

But I don't like Hofested's definition because the terms "loose" and "strong" in our case
in this thread rather correspond to "dynamic" and "static", resp. Consequently the north-west
european peoples tend to be just more socially mobile or dynamic (risk taking), but this is
not exactly individualism in my definition, just social entrepreneursship. They can make
individual actions or decisions for a collectivist goal (socialize). According to Hofstede this
is indeed fully individualistic as you say, because interactions are disrupted. According
to my definition it is only partially individualistic because the interactions are in fact
disrupted for the sake of new interactions. This fits well to the free-market
capitalism with its is high social mobility/dynamic, but by no means lack of social
ties.

On the other hand, when I look at societies with feudalistic traditions like rural
balkans, here dominate static relationsships: clan, family, village, tradition, land.
Also the mafia in south italy and albania. This corresponds to more risk-avoidance
or change-avoidance but not necessarily to more collectivism. They are also partially
individualistic because they stick to their individually accustomed interactions (an
individually influenced collective) to them and avoid new interactions
which are not yet individual to them. I mean, an individual can be member of a collective,
but if this collective is individually accustomed (family), this individual is both
individualist and collectivist at the same time, according to my definition. But
according to Hofested's definition, it is not possible to decide how much individualistic
or collectivistic this person would be.

An Example:
I observed a remarkable individual pride in south european men (Greeks, Turks) compared to
northern europeans (e.g. Germans). They are prouder of their individual heritage (clannishness?),
in contrast to North-westeners who are keen to abandon their individual family as soon as possible
in favour of new peers (mind the teenagers :LOL: ). This corresponds well to the stronger
obedience of north-europeans to their state and to anonymous people whom they
can not individually control or know (collectivistic behaviour?). OTH, I found that many
south-europeans are reluctant to join a group before they are convinced that the group will
respect them as an individual first (individualistic?). They demand personal respect
beforehand (mind the vendetta, or spaniards demonstrating for government support :LOL: ).
The north europeans in turn often desperately try to be a group member, hoping that they will be
respected one day (collectivistic?). A southerner would rather blame the collective for his
individual misforune (collectivistic or individualistic?). This actually indicates that in the
north-euro case the individual is even more pressed to serve society than in the south.
For me that's collectivism. Depending on which level you look at, it can be more-or-less
both individualistic or collectivistic.

I wonder if the low social mobility in certain southern regions has to do with the
longer history of farming. Land is static, passive and safe, but money is dynamic,
active and risky (as hunting and gathering?). There is also currently a strong difference
between rural and urban societies in the balkans, for instance in serbia.

- I want to make clear, that the above is an exaggerated picture! South and north
europenas are not remotely that extremely different.

- Risk handling more directly explains economic situations. An entrepreneur is
always a risk taker, no matter if collectivist or individualist.

I hope my opinion has become more clear.
 
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Hi ElHorsto. I like your analysis, and find collectivism of North versus South somewhat different in nature too. I just think that none of us here was able accurately pinpoint the difference yet. Personally I'm looking for a simpler explanation, according to my motto "beauty in simplicity".
 
Thanks, the definition is indeed my problem here. According to Hofstede:

- individualism: loose ties/interactions between individuals
- collectivism: strong ties/interactions between individuals

My own huble definition:

- individualism: loose or sparse ties/interactions between individuals
- collectivism: strong or frequent ties/interactions between individuals


Your refining approach by different categories is also good.

But I don't like Hofested's definition because the terms "loose" and "strong" in our case
in this thread rather correspond to "dynamic" and "static", resp. Consequently the north-west
european peoples tend to be just more socially mobile or dynamic (risk taking), but this is
not exactly individualism in my definition, just social entrepreneursship. They can make
individual actions or decisions for a collectivist goal (socialize). According to Hofstede this
is indeed fully individualistic as you say, because interactions are disrupted. According
to my definition it is only partially individualistic because the interactions are in fact
disrupted for the sake of new interactions. This fits well to the free-market
capitalism with its is high social mobility/dynamic, but by no means lack of social
ties.

On the other hand, when I look at societies with feudalistic traditions like rural
balkans, here dominate static relationsships: clan, family, village, tradition, land.
Also the mafia in south italy and albania. This corresponds to more risk-avoidance
or change-avoidance but not necessarily to more collectivism. They are also partially
individualistic because they stick to their individually accustomed interactions (an
individually influenced collective) to them and avoid new interactions
which are not yet individual to them. I mean, an individual can be member of a collective,
but if this collective is individually accustomed (family), this individual is both
individualist and collectivist at the same time, according to my definition. But
according to Hofested's definition, it is not possible to decide how much individualistic
or collectivistic this person would be.

An Example:
I observed a remarkable individual pride in south european men (Greeks, Turks) compared to
northern europeans (e.g. Germans). They are prouder of their individual heritage (clannishness?),
in contrast to North-westeners who are keen to abandon their individual family as soon as possible
in favour of new peers (mind the teenagers :LOL: ). This corresponds well to the stronger
obedience of north-europeans to their state and to anonymous people whom they
can not individually control or know (collectivistic behaviour?). OTH, I found that many
south-europeans are reluctant to join a group before they are convinced that the group will
respect them as an individual first (individualistic?). They demand personal respect
beforehand (mind the vendetta, or spaniards demonstrating for government support :LOL: ).
The north europeans in turn often desperately try to be a group member, hoping that they will be
respected one day (collectivistic?). A southerner would rather blame the collective for his
individual misforune (collectivistic or individualistic?). This actually indicates that in the
north-euro case the individual is even more pressed to serve society than in the south.
For me that's collectivism. Depending on which level you look at, it can be more-or-less
both individualistic or collectivistic.

I wonder if the low social mobility in certain southern regions has to do with the
longer history of farming. Land is static, passive and safe, but money is dynamic,
active and risky (as hunting and gathering?). There is also currently a strong difference
between rural and urban societies in the balkans, for instance in serbia.

- I want to make clear, that the above is an exaggerated picture! South and north
europenas are not remotely that extremely different.

- Risk handling more directly explains economic situations. An entrepreneur is
always a risk taker, no matter if collectivist or individualist.

I hope my opinion has become more clear.

Exactly my thoughts I wasn't able to put my finger on! (y)
From this point of view I always regarded Germans as very obedient and collectivistic in comparison to South Europeans. Your examples are the same I had in mind.
 
When it comes to genetics the South-North division is completely outdated. You have for example Spaniards who are genetically closer to Germans than to Sicilians (Nelis et al.)
 
Exactly my thoughts I wasn't able to put my finger on! (y)
From this point of view I always regarded Germans as very obedient and collectivistic in comparison to South Europeans. Your examples are the same I had in mind.

What about "sense of duty"? I don't mean, obedience, to do a job right because someone, like boss, told me too. I mean something more like "obedient to yourself". For example, if I plan to do maintenance around my house for a weekend, I can't rest, I can't stop till the plan is done. If the plan is interrupted I feel bad with uneasy feeling. If the plan and work is done, it feels great with this accomplishment. Nothing else but my internal feelings are forcing me to do and finish my job. Even if I hate the job. I can't explain it better than genetics. I was always like this, since I can remember, my mother is like this, but my father (who was supposed to teach me work ethics) is totally opposite.
 
On the other hand, when I look at societies with feudalistic traditions like rural
balkans, here dominate static relationsships: clan, family, village, tradition, land.
Also the mafia in south italy and albania. This corresponds to more risk-avoidance
or change-avoidance but not necessarily to more collectivism. They are also partially
individualistic because they stick to their individually accustomed interactions (an
individually influenced collective) to them and avoid new interactions
which are not yet individual to them. I mean, an individual can be member of a collective,
but if this collective is individually accustomed (family), this individual is both
individualist and collectivist at the same time, according to my definition. But
according to Hofested's definition, it is not possible to decide how much individualistic
or collectivistic this person would be.

An Example:
I observed a remarkable individual pride in south european men (Greeks, Turks) compared to
northern europeans (e.g. Germans). They are prouder of their individual heritage (clannishness?),
in contrast to North-westeners who are keen to abandon their individual family as soon as possible
in favour of new peers (mind the teenagers :LOL: ).

That's an interesting point of view. You are giving individualistic characteristics to small groups (family, village). However, in my eyes, this is just collectivism. The size of the group in collectivism does not matter. Whether your allegiance is to your family, village, region, country, supra-national organisation, religion, or whatever, it is always a form of collectivism. What matter is the attitude, the way of thinking and behaving, not the nature of the group itself. The fundamental difference between a purely individualistic person and a purely collectivist one (I say "purely", but most people fall somewhere in between) is that the individualist thinks by himself and for himself (self-centred ago) without caring about what others think, nor their opinion of him. The collectivist only lives through the eyes of others. That's why he/she will want more respect. The mafia is the epitome of collectivism because it is strongly based on interpersonal relationships and respect. North Europeans are keen to leave their family as soon as possible, because for an individualist freedom and success can only be achieved on one's own, without the restrictions imposed by the help of others. If someone helps you achieve something, it feels like cheating to a true individualist. The self-worth comes from one's own ego, not from how others feel about you.




OTH, I found that many
south-europeans are reluctant to join a group before they are convinced that the group will
respect them as an individual first (individualistic?).

That's because collectivist people actively seek approval and need respect from others in order to feel good. A pure individualist doesn't give a damn what others think as long as he knows that he is right from his own perspective. That's also why individualistic countries have spawn more (lone) adventurers and pioneering colonists than collectivist ones. The 19th-century cow boy is an individualist, not a collectivist, and inevitably a Northern European.

A southerner would rather blame the collective for his
individual misforune (collectivistic or individualistic?).

That's because collectivists think in term of communities; they more readily reject personal responsibility because they see their lives as an indissociable part of a community. The perfect collectivist would rather die than live on an island all by himself. The perfect individualist would rather die than have all his life decided for him by others. Therefore individualists rarely blame others for their failures or misfortunes, while collectivists typically do. It's also true in politics. Southern European politicians are far more likely to blame others when things go wrong than take personal responsibility for their actions.


This actually indicates that in the
north-euro case the individual is even more pressed to serve society than in the south.

That's because for a perfect individualist the only duality that exists is the self and society (skipping completely the family, social groups, and even nationalities - society is seen as the whole humanity). Collectivists always think in terms of groups, at different levels, leading inevitably to confrontations between groups, whatever they are (the "us vs them" mentality). As selfish as the perfect individualist may seem at first sight, he may be the only one that cares about the well being of society in general, because that is his milieu, where he has to live.


I wonder if the low social mobility in certain southern regions has to do with the
longer history of farming. Land is static, passive and safe, but money is dynamic,
active and risky (as hunting and gathering?). There is also currently a strong difference
between rural and urban societies in the balkans, for instance in serbia.

I seriously doubt that agriculture has anything to do with it. What does it matter that a place has been farming for 6000 years or 8000 years ? (especially if the people who brought agriculture all descend from the same source, in which case all Neolithic farmers have an equally long history of farming, since they descend from the same founders).

I also noticed that local communities were much stronger and isolated from each others in Southeast Europe, in the Middle East and even in South Asia. But I think this is simply because of their ultra-collectivist attitude. They built such strong, cohesive, family-centred communities over the centuries that they cannot leave the group nor dissolve it to the profit of a greater one (like a nation). Individualists don't mind because they don't really care about groups in the first place. That's also why North Europeans could emigrate to North America and almost forget about their heritage, or in any case leave everything behind, readily adopt a new culture and language, and even change their names... Southern Europeans (as well as Middle Easterners and most Asians) typically clustered together with people from their region, or even recreated whole village communities abroad, and tried hard to keep their language and customs. That's the collectivist attitude. Once born and raised into a group you can't give it up for another.
 
What about "sense of duty"? I don't mean, obedience, to do a job right because someone, like boss, told me too. I mean something more like "obedient to yourself". For example, if I plan to do maintenance around my house for a weekend, I can't rest, I can't stop till the plan is done. If the plan is interrupted I feel bad with uneasy feeling. If the plan and work is done, it feels great with this accomplishment. Nothing else but my internal feelings are forcing me to do and finish my job. Even if I hate the job. I can't explain it better than genetics. I was always like this, since I can remember, my mother is like this, but my father (who was supposed to teach me work ethics) is totally opposite.

Your examples of your sense of duty is a typically individualistic reaction. You do something for yourself, because you have decided to do it. Nobody will scold you if you don't do the maintenance you planned at your house... except yourself ! The ego is the motivation. Likewise, doing well one's homework at school or one's job at work is a way of boosting one's ego.

A true individualist doesn't care if the boss is happy, he cares whether he has the capabilities to do the job, to be better than his co-workers, to achieve his own goals... A true collectivist cares about earning the respect of his boss and co-workers, even if he has to cheat to do it. An individualist will quit if he feels that his job is not challenging or rewarding enough, that he is not learning, progressing, getting somewhere... A collectivist will quit if he feels he is not liked, respected or needed in the company. These are of course extreme cases (most people fit somewhere in between) to illustrate the fundamental difference in way of thinking between the two.
 
Your examples of your sense of duty is a typically individualistic reaction. You do something for yourself, because you have decided to do it. Nobody will scold you if you don't do the maintenance you planned at your house... except yourself ! The ego is the motivation. Likewise, doing well one's homework at school or one's job at work is a way of boosting one's ego.

A true individualist doesn't care if the boss is happy, he cares whether he has the capabilities to do the job, to be better than his co-workers, to achieve his own goals... A true collectivist cares about earning the respect of his boss and co-workers, even if he has to cheat to do it. An individualist will quit if he feels that his job is not challenging or rewarding enough, that he is not learning, progressing, getting somewhere... A collectivist will quit if he feels he is not liked, respected or needed in the company. These are of course extreme cases (most people fit somewhere in between) to illustrate the fundamental difference in way of thinking between the two.

And if someone has no sense of duty, is he a collectivist then? I think it is not apparent in general whether it is individualism or collectivism, it has nothing to do with these categories in general. It can be anything: a moral value set up by society or parents, a habit, or genetic character trait.
 
What about "sense of duty"? I don't mean, obedience, to do a job right because someone, like boss, told me too. I mean something more like "obedient to yourself". For example, if I plan to do maintenance around my house for a weekend, I can't rest, I can't stop till the plan is done. If the plan is interrupted I feel bad with uneasy feeling. If the plan and work is done, it feels great with this accomplishment. Nothing else but my internal feelings are forcing me to do and finish my job. Even if I hate the job. I can't explain it better than genetics. I was always like this, since I can remember, my mother is like this, but my father (who was supposed to teach me work ethics) is totally opposite.

What you are referring to is self-discipline. I've been thinking about whether self-discipline can be considered as a special form of obedience. I don't really think so, but I'm not sure. But I would agree that North Europeans are on an average more self-disciplined than South Europeans.
 
That's an interesting point of view. You are giving individualistic characteristics to small groups (family, village). However, in my eyes, this is just collectivism.

In my eyes it is both, a bit individualistic and collectivisitic, as its probably in most cases.

The size of the group in collectivism does not matter. Whether your allegiance is to your family, village, region, country, supra-national organisation, religion, or whatever, it is always a form of collectivism. What matter is the attitude, the way of thinking and behaving, not the nature of the group itself.

Indeed, I was not restricting my statement to small communities only. I just listed those which seemed more common to me, at least for the balkans. It is also more difficult to fit into or influence a large society by the own individuality than a small one.

The fundamental difference between a purely individualistic person and a purely collectivist one (I say "purely", but most people fall somewhere in between) is that the individualist thinks by himself and for himself (self-centred ago) without caring about what others think, nor their opinion of him. The collectivist only lives through the eyes of others. That's why he/she will want more respect.

As long as a person is not a loner he can not avoid interaction with other people. An interaction is always bidirectional. Under this circumstance, the only question remains to which extent one defends his individual freedom within the collective. The one who demands personal respect beforehand (means unwilling to change his individual character) within this unavoidable collective is more individualistic than others without individual requirements or demands to the group.

The mafia is the epitome of collectivism because it is strongly based on interpersonal relationships and respect.

You are right, the mafia was a bad example. Maybe it is worth to distinguish between collectivistic persons and collectivistic structures. I'm asking myself if a group of individualists can still yield a collectivistic structure or dictatorship. Of course they would be collectivists to some extend, but anyway it is not possible to be 100% individualist or collectivist in reality, as you already said.

North Europeans are keen to leave their family as soon as possible, because for an individualist freedom and success can only be achieved on one's own, without the restrictions imposed by the help of others. If someone helps you achieve something, it feels like cheating to a true individualist. The self-worth comes from one's own ego, not from how others feel about you.

This is again only half of the story. It could be a collectivistic way of being individualist. What about the teenagers who try to be accepted in school and therefore become disobedient to their parents (smoking, taking drugs, etc.) just to be "cool" (individualistic?) among peers? Without those peers most likely they wouldn't do this. Maybe this is not collectivistic, but certainly also not individualistic. They sacrifice their values which they initially already once accepted for just another group. You may claim that this was due to their individualistic decision, but I can claim that they were collectivistic because they where directed by a group.

That's because collectivist people actively seek approval and need respect from others in order to feel good. A pure individualist doesn't give a damn what others think as long as he knows that he is right from his own perspective. That's also why individualistic countries have spawn more (lone) adventurers and pioneering colonists than collectivist ones. The 19th-century cow boy is an individualist, not a collectivist, and inevitably a Northern European.

Maybe. But there could be also other explanations.

That's because collectivists think in term of communities; they more readily reject personal responsibility because they see their lives as an indissociable part of a community.
The perfect collectivist would rather die than live on an island all by himself. The perfect individualist would rather die than have all his life decided for him by others.

But then he must become a loner. As soon as he interacts, he becomes influenced by interaction participants, thus losing individuality.

Therefore individualists rarely blame others for their failures or misfortunes, while collectivists typically do. It's also true in politics. Southern European politicians are far more likely to blame others when things go wrong than take personal responsibility for their actions.

Maybe its worth to distinguish perception and reaction here.

Those who do not blame the group sacrifice individuality to the group, they are willing to change their values or actions because of the group. They are the collectivists with respect to reaction. But with respect to perception they are individualists because they think they have the individual duty.

Those who blame society are not willing to sacrifice their individual character for the society. They are the individualists with respect to reaction. But with respect to perception they are collectivists because they think the group has a duty.

It seems you regard only the perception as criterion for collectivism or individualism. I regard both, coming-up with more difficult constraints to fulfill in order to be classified as individualist. Therefore with my definition most cases appear both, individualistic and collectivistic. After all, I doubt that this dimension is useful.

...
Collectivists always think in terms of groups, at different levels, leading inevitably to confrontations between groups, whatever they are (the "us vs them" mentality). As selfish as the perfect individualist may seem at first sight, he may be the only one that cares about the well being of society in general, because that is his milieu, where he has to live.

It seems our opinions actually do not differ that much. Its just that what you call individualist I would still call collectivist, because I have a more rigid definition of an individualist.

I seriously doubt that agriculture has anything to do with it. What does it matter that a place has been farming for 6000 years or 8000 years ? (especially if the people who brought agriculture all descend from the same source, in which case all Neolithic farmers have an equally long history of farming, since they descend from the same founders).

Agriculture requires social stability (heritage etc.), while hunting and gathering requires social flexibility (team work). So why are 8000 years not long enough to evolve suitable characteristics? Not to mention epigenetic adaptation.

I also noticed that local communities were much stronger and isolated from each others in Southeast Europe, in the Middle East and even in South Asia. But I think this is simply because of their ultra-collectivist attitude. They built such strong, cohesive, family-centred communities over the centuries that they cannot leave the group nor dissolve it to the profit of a greater one (like a nation). Individualists don't mind because they don't really care about groups in the first place. That's also why North Europeans could emigrate to North America and almost forget about their heritage, or in any case leave everything behind, readily adopt a new culture and language, and even change their names... Southern Europeans (as well as Middle Easterners and most Asians) typically clustered together with people from their region, or even recreated whole village communities abroad, and tried hard to keep their language and customs. That's the collectivist attitude. Once born and raised into a group you can't give it up for another.

I understand, but for me it is not decidable absolutely if this is collectivist or individualist.
It looks rather like conservatism or uncertainty aversion to me. After all, using my definition I don't see that north-euros are more individualistic than shouth europeans or others.
 
Individualism is a trait shared by ethnically Celtic and Germanic countries. For instance, North Italy (Celtic) is very individualistic, while South Italy (Greek) is far more collectivist.

Southern European, as well as Atlantic Celtic cultures like the Irish and the Scots, are clannish, meaning that they are collectivist at a family or village level, but not so much at a higher level (regional or national). They trust people they know, people close to them, but distrust big corporations and governments. That is why the current Indignant movement has its roots in Southern Europe and is not likely to be very popular in egalitarian Nordic countries. It is essentially fuelled by clans (families, groups of friends) antagonising the government, seen as the enemy, or at least a cold and distant entity rather than the representative of the people's interests. In Sweden anybody can visit the Prime Minister's office and check his/her mails. Try that in a Latin country, where people like Berlusconi or Sarkozy behave more like distant monarchs than accessible fellow citizens.

I'm confused, I don't know much about genetics (all I know i have read on this site), but do Northern Italian not cluster with the French and Spanish?

In the first paragraph you say Northern Italy is Individualistic, then later go on to say the Protests in Spain are characteristic of collectivist people, but are they not part of the same broad genetic grouping?

I'm not arguing that culturally speaking the collectivist / individualist divide doesn't exist, mearly that its not genetic but cultural.

The world wide protests seen yesterday suggest that if anything the Spanish youth are ahead of the game, they want change because just trying to repair the current system will only get us right back to bust 20 years from now.

http://www.euronews.net/2011/10/16/worldwide-protests-denounce-economic-injustice/

Ed Miliband gave a speak at the Labour conference talking about the culture of 'individualist capitalism' that has destroyed societies and peoples lives, money made at the cost of everything else. video
 
And if someone has no sense of duty, is he a collectivist then?

It doesn't matter. There are individualists and collectivists who have a strong sense of duty, and others who don't. It's not a defining factor of individualism or collectivism. It's like asking if liking ice cream makes you a collectivist or not. It's just not related. However the underlying motivation of one's sense of duty works differently in the brain of an individualist and of a collectivist, because they perceive the world differently and have very divergent core values.
 
It doesn't matter. There are individualists and collectivists who have a strong sense of duty, and others who don't. It's not a defining factor of individualism or collectivism. It's like asking if liking ice cream makes you a collectivist or not. It's just not related. However the underlying motivation of one's sense of duty works differently in the brain of an individualist and of a collectivist, because they perceive the world differently and have very divergent core values.

Oh, right. Sorry I did not read carefully. You mean that the motivation in LeBrok's example is individualistic, not the sense of duty per se. Absolutely agree. My question is obsolete then.
 
I'm confused, I don't know much about genetics (all I know i have read on this site), but do Northern Italian not cluster with the French and Spanish?

In the first paragraph you say Northern Italy is Individualistic, then later go on to say the Protests in Spain are characteristic of collectivist people, but are they not part of the same broad genetic grouping?

If individualism is indeed genetic (as I believe it is), it is probably located on just one gene, or a few SNP's on a few genes. The overall autosomal similarity is therefore irrelevant. As I said before, there can be big differences in individualism levels between members of a same family, depending on which individual inherited the mutation(s) and which didn't. This is particularly obvious in interracial couples. If one parent is very individualistic (e.g. Northwest European) and the other is very collectivist (e.g. Southeast European or East Asian), the children will either inherit one parent's individualist mindset or the other parent's collectivist mindset.

I know from observing such families that it isn't a matter of education, because the signs of individualism already show in the behaviour of babies before they can speak (thus before going to preschool or being influenced by the local culture or society). Individualistic babies can stay by themselves without crying or play alone by themselves, while collectivist ones need a constant parental presence (and cry more easily in the presence of strangers too).

I have observed that the stronger correlation with individualism is to be found in Celto-Germanic countries, perhaps even more Celtic than Germanic ones. The core of individualistic cultures run from North Italy to the British Isles, via France and the Low countries. You may argue that Iberia is also Celtic, but probably not the same Celtic as in North Italy, France and Belgium (Hallstatt/La Tène) or Britain and Ireland (Brythonic). Anyway it seems that the alleles for individualism are considerably lower in the Iberian gene pool than in North Italy or France.

Ed Miliband gave a speak at the Labour conference talking about the culture of 'individualist capitalism' that has destroyed societies and peoples lives, money made at the cost of everything else

Actually, the individualism-collectivism scale can also be applied to politics. Liberals (both economically and socially) are the most individualistic, while socialists and communists are obviously the most collectivist. Of course political parties are not usually as clear cut as these theoretical ideologies, and names are often misleading. Jacques Chirac belonged to a right-wing pro-liberal party but had socialist ideals (and started politics as a member of the communist party, unsurprisingly). Tony Blair did just the opposite, being mostly a right-wing liberal but joining and reforming a left-wing socialist party. In the USA, the Democrats are a left-wing party, but with the same opinions and agendas would be classified as right-wing in most of Europe. The so-called Conservatives, in both Britain and America are actually economic ultra-liberals who are socially conservative (usually due to religious values in the States). But if you can make abstraction of appellations, and just look at the deep-rooted values that motivate politicians, you will see that those with individualistic personalities have more liberal leanings (and vice versa).
 
Jacques Chirac belonged to a right-wing pro-liberal party but had socialist ideals (and started politics as a member of the communist party, unsurprisingly).


Jacques Chirac belonged to the Gaullist party which wasn't pro liberal. Most of welfare state in france was established during Gaullist era (De Gaulle+Pompidou).

Also where did you get the idea that Chirac had "socialist" ideals and that he started politics as member of the communist party (!) ?
 
Jacques Chirac belonged to the Gaullist party which wasn't pro liberal. Most of welfare state in france was established during Gaullist era (De Gaulle+Pompidou).

You are right for the RPR (dissolved in 2002), but I had the UMP in mind (the party of his second term as president), which is more liberal. Anyway we agree that Chirac was generally quite opposed to the Anglo-American economic liberalism, and this is something that communists, socialists and conservative Gaullists all have in common. Sarkozy is far more liberal, despite being also a member of the UMP. Chirac and him are almost opposites.

My point here is that Chirac is not an individualist. Chirac always sided with the popular opinion instead of making vital reforms. This is the mentality of a pleaser, someone who cares more about what people think of him than about his own "performance". In contrast, an individualist will do what he thinks his right, even if the majority disagrees (that would be more like Sarkozy, although he is only a moderate individualist, otherwise he could not have been elected in a country like France).

In a country like the United Kingdom, few people criticise individualistic values like entrepreneurialism and liberalism because most people are more individualistic than collectivist. In most of southern Europe (North Italy being an exception), people will put more values on relationships, family, social consensus, and solidarity, and favour an interventionist and protectionist state. France suffers from a dichotomy by being a mixture of very individualistic (mostly in the North and East) and quite collectivist people (especially in the centre and Southwest). I have a feeling that this is causing a lot of debate, discomfort and annoyance on both sides of the French population, a sort of "social malaise" affecting France much more than other countries in Europe (although Belgium and Italy also have similar north-south tensions based on the same individualism-collectivism divergence).

Also where did you get the idea that Chirac had "socialist" ideals and that he started politics as member of the communist party (!) ?

That's common knowledge. Just check his biography. He was a member of the Communist Party in the 1950's.
 
You are right for the RPR (dissolved in 2002), but I had the UMP in mind (the party of his second term as president), which is more liberal. Anyway we agree that Chirac was generally quite opposed to the Anglo-American economic liberalism, and this is something that communists, socialists and conservative Gaullists all have in common. Sarkozy is far more liberal, despite being also a member of the UMP. Chirac and him are almost opposites.

I think that Chirac was neither socialist nor liberal he just did nothing as President.

Sarkozy is Liberal in his speeches but the only real "liberal" policy he applied was to reduce taxes on rich people.


Also, I just checked your link and you're right on the fact that he entered politic as a Communist.
 
My point here is that Chirac is not an individualist. Chirac always sided with the popular opinion instead of making vital reforms.

I don't think that to side with the popular opinion is a feature of non liberal leaders. When a candidate says that he will reduce taxes (Like Reagan and Sarkozy did), it is to please the popular opinion but in the same way it is to implement a liberal policy (Laffer curve...)
 
I don't think that to side with the popular opinion is a feature of non liberal leaders. When a candidate says that he will reduce taxes (Like Reagan and Sarkozy did), it is to please the popular opinion but in the same way it is to implement a liberal policy (Laffer curve...)

All politicians lie during election campaigns. Chirac knew that he was not going to be re-elected after his second term as president (and indeed was quitting politics), but he kept avoiding unpopular yet necessary reforms (like raising the age of pension) because he cared more about being liked than about doing what was best for the country's future. That's why I always hated him.
 
I have observed that the stronger correlation with individualism is to be found in Celto-Germanic countries, perhaps even more Celtic than Germanic ones.

An obvious counterexample within the British Isles: the English tend to be more individualist than that Welsh, which is reflected in their elected representatives.

I think that culture and history influence politics more than anything else does, and genetics influences culture, but is only a single component of it. So we're apt to see some interesting correlations, but in general the correlation is going to be poor, and it will be difficult to isolate from the influence of non-genetic factors.
 

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