Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Individualism vs Collectivism: The Struggle is Real

By Grant Gibbons, Mary Dias and Talmage Cromar


Individualism- a (1) :  a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount;also :  conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) :  the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals

Collectivism- : emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity


The Struggle

In Alaska this spring, a transgender woman (biological male) ran in the women's 100M and 200M races getting the state qualifying time edging out the other female competitors. This raises the question about how far individualism has been allowed to be exercised in our country. This is not a new question. History is full of examples of how this struggle is real and ongoing.

Although individualism has been the tool for great societal progress beginning in the Renaissance, we must find the proper balance in our moral and political systems between individualism and the collective well being because history has proven that appealing to either of these extremes is destructive to progress.

So where should the line be drawn? If it were up to you, where would you draw it?

Hi, I'm Grant.

Grant Gibbons
I write, arrange, and orchestrate music as a profession—I have a big passion for music and am in school right now to get a music education degree. I'm the 6th of 7 children in my family, so one of my other great joys in life is hanging out with them and their cute kids. I'm a Disney animated films fan, among other things. A big part of my life is church service. I am a Mormon (belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I learned to love MANY different cultures while serving an LDS mission in East LA. This is where I gained a passion for sharing what I know with the world!

Collectivism: The Fandom Menace

While being a fan of something reflects a person's individualism, I see a clear danger: as groups of fans gather to celebrate that individualism, are they aware that really they are part of a collectivist group, subject to the influence of the major media producers of our day? Is it appropriate to consider media of our day propaganda? How has this negatively affected individuals, families, and communities in the past? How can we use this "collectivism" as  tool of good influence in the future?

Hi, I'm Mary.
Mary Dias
I am a student at Brigham Young University studying dietetics. I have been a long-time student and lover of health and wellness and I am extremely interested in the media’s influence on the physical health of our country's citizens. I enjoy reading, cooking, running, and camping and I have a love for learning. I live in Provo, Utah and will be married soon! I am excited to share my thoughts on diet culture, individualism, and how their connection could affect your life positively.

Diet Culture, Individualism, and Fighting Back

Diet culture is a modern concept perpetuated by the diet industry. This industry teaches values centered around health and appearance ideals that are often unhealthy and unrealistic. It’s goal is to sell product at the expense of the consumer’s long-term health. The industry’s niche is quick or easy weight loss and sensationalist claims about products. The culture is based on an assumption that every person should or has a desire to lose weight.  It subtly encourages the belief that outward appearance is more important than overall health. There is a certain ideology that was developed during and propelled the Renaissance that enables the exploitation of consumers by the diet industry. This ideology is individualism and, when applied a certain way, it allows consumers to be more vulnerable to the enticements of the diet industry. However, if a different application of individualism was made, it could change diet culture and demand change from the industry behind it.

Hi, I'm Talmage.

Talmage Cromar
I am an Advertising Major at BYU and love every second of it. An avid soccer player, I also dabble in any and all sports, even experimental ones like crate stacking. Married and with a 5 month old daughter, life is always busy. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary for two years in the Mexico City, Mexico area. I want more than anything for our nation to return to God and receive blessings from his hand again.

The Imperative of Moral Instruction in Education

Have you ever been frustrated by how our school system works? Long hours of sitting in a sterile room listening to a teacher drone on about the current subject and worrying about remembering it for a test that will happen a month or more from now? How there is alchohol and drug use, sexual promiscuity and general disrespect all around? How you seem to just be another student in this giant system called school, lost in all the noise? Well, you aren't the only one. Educational reform has been needed for a long time and we may just be on the edge of actually accomplishing it. Part of that discussion will be about the role of individualism in education. Should we structure the new system to place more emphasis on the group or the individual? I believe there must be a balance in education between individual and group benefits. Either way, this topic will have to be addressed if proper reform is to occur.


  1. Although it may seem like individualism and collectivism are opposites, individualism can often lead to collectivism. Martin Luther is a great example of the overlap of individualism and collectivism. Martin Luther wrote 95 Theses of reformations that he thought should be made to the Catholic church. This was an individualist move because he was the only one at the time that protested against the church. He thought his ideas should be ‘ethically paramount’. And, after he nailed them to the church door, others began to adopt his ideas and his individualism turned into a collectivist movement that sparked a revolution. People took Martin’s ideas and spread them across the continent. By the time that the revolution became out of control and Luther no longer agreed with its values, it had become a collectivist movement that forever changed religion. Individualism in fandoms and diet culture has lead to collectivism in society. This is the same for education. The collectivism that now exists started because someone believed their individual idea was ethically superior and then applied it to the system. Collectivism and individualism are much closer than they appear to be.

  2. I agree that there is a definite balance between favoring the freedom and rights of individuals and “promoting the general welfare” in society in general, as well as in schools. Amitai Etzioni, author of the book The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society, holds that “no right is absolute and all must be balanced against the common good.” He then gives this (and many other) example(s): “Child-care centers can now find out if prospective employees have been convicted of child abuse. While that may seem like a civil libertarian's nightmare, would you rather have your child in a facility like the one in Orlando, Florida, whose management learned only after a guard made sexual advances on boys that he had previously been convicted of raping a fourteen-year-old?” As this relates to education, no one student’s needs are absolutely greater than the class as a whole, so some students are required to learn differently and at a different pace than they are used to. The class is really just an amalgamation of individuals and their needs, many of which are similar, but not all. Education reform is needed—balanced between the individual’s and the class’s needs.

  3. I really appreciate the emphasis on the difference between individualism and collectivism, but Grant's point that fans celebrating their individualism may or may not realize they are actually part of a collective. This makes me think individualism and collectivism may be more related than it seems at first, at least in our social sphere. You are likely familiar with some reality TV shows that highlight specific individuals, often, though not always, to their benefit. Shows like My Big Fat Fabulous Life, I Am Cait, and I am Jazz, are focused on individuals who feel in some way marginalized. In the first, Whitney is an obese dance teacher trying to spread acceptance for your body at whatever weight you are and to not let it get in the way of doing what you love. She is trying to inspire others, though it starts with individualism. The same can be said for the others. Jazz Jennings is a transgender teenager, very active in the community, trying to share her own story as well as support others in sharing theirs. Looking at her Facebook page, one might see a lot of individualism as she promotes her book and shares her TV interviews or dramatic moments from her life, but many of her posts are trying to support others in the transgender community. If individualism is a means of inspiration for the collective, is it still individualism? Sometimes it takes an individual to make change for the group. One person alone couldn't do it, but by inspiring others, the collective can.