This relates to the degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups, as a societal characteristic rather than an individual characteristic.
These societies have loose ties between individuals. Everyone is expected to look after themselves and their immediate family. This manifests as:
- ‘I’ consciousness, right to privacy
- speaking one’s mind and personal opinion
- seeing others as individuals
- transgression leading to guilt feelings
- believing the purpose of education is learning how to learn
- believing task prevails over relationship.
People in these societies are, from birth, integrated into strong, cohesive groups (eg extended families) that provide protection in exchange for unquestioned loyalty to the group. This manifests as:
- ‘we’ consciousness
- emphasising belonging and harmony of the group
- seeing others as either belonging or not belonging to the group
- transgression leading to feelings of shame
- believing the purpose of education is to learn how to do something
- believing relationship prevails over task.
According to Hofstede
- Individualism prevails in Western countries.
- Collectivism prevails in less developed and Eastern countries.
- Japan has a middle position.
In general practice
This dimension is evidenced in the relationship between the patient and the various societal groups to which they belong (family, work, community), the responsibilities of one to the other, and the doctor’s beliefs with respect to all these. Problems occur when a person’s values are not considered and assumptions made, resulting in inappropriate judgements and actions.