Our dominant cultures have for too long emphasised on distinction, separatism and defined boundaries, so why not we overcome these differences by focusing on how we relate to one another, instead of how we don’t relate, how similar we are instead of how different we are, how complex we are instead of how we can be grouped into categories with boundaries. What if we were erase these borders, break down the walls of difference and bridge the gaps in our [current] knowledge of what it means to be a relational being?ep 47
We live in an interconnected world, full of beings, spaces and life that are connected through an intricate web of interdependence which sustains the health of Earth. Yet we are increasingly seeing a disconnection between humanity and the wider world, which has been exacerbated by the human-nature dualism adopted by Western and urban spaces, but this disconnection runs deeper into the flawed notion of humanity’s domination of Earth and rejection of our positions in the world as relational beings.
In this Reflection episode, Agrita explores the social crisis of community fragmentation within modern and Westernised societies, with a particular focus on the cultural divide caused by the individualism-collectivism approach for cross-cultural/national studies between/within Western and non-Western cultures. Agrita calls for a rejection of defined categories, which seek to homogenise individuals and society rather than represent them, and instead emphasises the need for us to rebuild a culture of relatedness and understanding for every individual and every community to be valued.
- Humanity’s departure from interconnectivity, despite being relational beings
- Our failed collective attempts at re-establishing a sense of community without unlearning colonial, capitalistic and modernistic teachings of independence
- Agrita’s personal struggles with immigrating from collectivistic India to individualistic UK and tending to traumas induced by these bi-cultural crises
- Exploring the meaning of self, with reference to Harry Triandis’ work
- Exploring studies looking at cultural differences between individualistic Western nations and collectivistic non-Western nations
- Example studies demonstrating social pathologies associated to neoindividualism such as suicide
- Emphasising the need to decolonise ourselves, spaces and social structures to reconnect to Indigenous knowledge and practices of self and community, with an example of ensemble leadership as part of Indigenous collectivism
- Challenging the dichotomy of individualism-collectivism and need for categorisation and distinction of communities to be stopped so as to avoid homogenisation of communities based on cultural stereotypes
- Triandis (1989) paper on self as assessments made by the individual and collectives
- Singh et al (1962) study exploring cultural differences between American students and Chinese and Indian international students
- Eskin et al (2020) paper on the positive association of suicidal ideation/attempts with individualism
- Eskin (2013) study looking at suicidal tendencies/attempts for Turkish youth with idiocentric values
- Du et al (2014) study looking at hopelessness for substance usage in idiocentric Chinese rural-to-urban migrants
- Rosile et al (2016) study on Indigenous ensemble leadership
- Article on emergence of Indigenous psychology
- Voronov and Singer (2002) paper critiquing the usage of individualism-collectivism for cultural studies
- Darwish and Huber (2003) paper exploring the possibilities of decategorisation/personalisation of allocentric individuals to help them fit into individualistic cultures, and the implications of this
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