Individualist cultures: as the name suggests, very much about the individual. People tend to describe themselves in terms of their own characteristics, rather than group ones, and feel a need to stand out and be unique. Being independent and self-reliant is seen as a positive trait whereas depending on others is looked down upon. The individual is meant to consider their own needs, above those of others. Legally, there tends to be more emphasis on the rights of the individual rather than the rights of the group. Collective cultures: Important traits include selflessness and working for the interests of society rather than ones own interests. Within the larger society, groups like the family, the team and the company can be seen as a micro-society, to which the individual must help support. There’s greater emphasis on relationships with others, so much so that many people describe themselves by those relationships. Additionally, there’s a need to blend in, to be harmonious with the group.
I would say my culture is mainly individual. Many Americans look down upon social aid programs such as food stamps or government funded healthcare. Our historical cultural values are “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and the idea of the American dream in which the individual achieves wealth and success through their own hard work. Movies and books often feature an individual going against pressure from ones family or another group to follow their personal dreams, regardless of the consequences to the group. In my personal life, I do try to consider how my actions will affect other people, especially my friends and family but I also think it’s important to not just keep the group satisfied but myself as well.
From everyculture.com: “Children are taught early to contribute to the household economy and learn adult responsibilities. It is common for rural children to pasture flocks of sheep and help their parents and kin plant and harvest crops. In urban areas, children often help their mothers sell goods at marketplaces.” I would say that this reinforces the idea that Bolivia is a collectively oriented country because it states that from a young age, Bolivian children are working to help support their family (the group).
The natural world clearly can be part of the collective because according to The Hold Life Has nature is not just alive in the biological sense but has something like a soul. Each mountain or watcher has a distinct personality and all are respectfully referred to apu (lord). The land nurtures the Rakhuna and houses are known as home earth and are extensions of Pacha Mama (mother earth) and the text notes that they are vigilant protectors of the Rakhuna. I also found it interesting how the earth and the places don’t just observe and protect the humans but also “[demanded] part in their consumption”, further entrenching their place in the collective. The Rakhuna also believe in sami, animating essence that present in almost everything from themselves, to the coca leaves to the rivers. So if everything in the natural world contains the same animating essence, then it must all be part of the collective.
Ethnocentrism has two meanings: the first is that ones culture/society is superior to all others and the second is viewing new cultures and/or people from the perspective of ones own culture. Clearly, the first definition has no relation to this course because by being here, living with and learning from people of different cultures shows that you can’t believe that your culture is totally superior. The second one, however, is harder to escape because your culture is a big part of who you are. All of your initial reactions to the experiences will probably be shaped by your cultural values. But if you can then step back and try to consider things from a different cultural perspective, you’ll come away with new ideas.