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To what extent does Western individualism encourage doing what you are told versus...

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tiff2796 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 7, 2009 at 10:57 AM via web

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To what extent does Western individualism encourage doing what you are told versus being an individual?

"we are intensely social creatures, deeply interconnected with one another and the idea of the lone individual rationally and willfully steering his own life course is often an illusion.”


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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 11, 2009 at 11:40 AM (Answer #2)

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The ideals of Western individualism are in direct opposition to "doing what you are told". The idea of individualism is to do what you think you should do for yourself and not worry about what others think. However, your quotation reveals that the ideals of Western individualism often clash with the social needs of humans. Most of us are "deeply social creatures" who both want and need contact and approval with others. That is why being a true "individual" can be so challenging.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM (Answer #3)

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As opposed to other cultures, western culture encourages individualism more. Although it isn't good to stereotype, Americans in particular tend to be individualists and value independence. Western culture does not support submissiveness in most cases. The exception is in the class system. People in subservient professions are required to do what they are told. Since this clashes with American individualization, the result is often resentment.

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