Individualism

Individualisme

  • belief, courage
  • citizen, self, single
  • differences, colorful, distinct
  • diversity, expression, equality
  • Diversity, Uniqueness
  • essential, diversity
  • freedom, expression, personal
  • Important, uniqueness
  • liberty, creativity, expression
  • Liberty, Decidedness, Popular
  • Lonely, Independent
  • needed, unique
  • personality, humanity, non-conformism
  • personality, uniqueness
  • Research, Ideation, Friends

  • Self, Single
  • self-expression, self-identity, fads
  • self-identity, interests
  • Self Reliant, Strength, Autonomy
  • unique
  • uniqueness, creativity
  • vs capitalism, vs commercialism, creative, unique
  • américain, capitalisme
  • Avenir, Egocentrisme, Angleterre
  • division, égoïsme
  • égoïsme
  • égoïsme, indépendance
  • égoïsme, seul
  • Egoïsme, Tristesse
  • Finalité
  • Groupe, Seul
  • Humain, autonomie, égocentrisme
  • hédonisme
  • individu, philosophie, égoisme
  • indépendant, solitude
  • Matérialiste, consumérisme
  • non productif,
  • Néfaste, société
  • Occidentaux, Nul
  • orgueil, égoïsme, je-m’en-foutisme,
  • Personne, Philosophie

Discussion

It seems to me that most of the American students find individualism to be positive, creative; meanwhile, the French seem to see it as negative, “égoïsme”, “tristesse”, “je-m’en-foutisme”. Americans see it as unique/diverse, while the French seem to see it as selfish, or a “loner”.

Is there a better word in French that describes someone who is unique, creative, and doesn’t follow others/do things just to fit in?

I was surprised to read so many negative associations from the French side compared to practically none from the Americans. Here, individualism is a central part of our lives and culture, and we are encouraged from the start to be different. I think this culture is probably unique to the United States, and is not seen in such a good light in other countries.

Why do you think individualism can be harmful, and do you think Americans value it too much to the extent that it’s detrimental to our country?
In general, do you think that the group is more important that the individual?

I think it’s very interesting to see how the two sides compare regarding this word. In America, we view individualism in a very positive light. From a young age, we are taught that everyone is different and that’s what makes us special. I did not expect to see such negative connotations on the French side.

On the American side, we answered with words like “freedom”, “liberty”, and “equality.” We clearly don’t believe that people must be the same to be equal. Do you share that opinion? It seems to me that the French believe differences between people and between communities are harmful to the good of the country. Is that true?

The connotations associated with individualism are markedly different when comparing the words the Americans and the French used.
These differences exist because the French and the Americans have a very different view of individualism, and one of the contributing factors can be the French’s importance on equality which may lead to a bad view of individualism.
Why is the occidental world connected with individualism? Do the French believe it would be best if all people did not consider individualism to be important?

I find it interesting how the French find individualism to be seen as a negative entity and as something that is not very common in the community while Americans take pride in their indiviual identities.
I think that the French have a very strong negative opinion towards individualism because France stresses the importance of equality and brotherhood while America stresses freedoms and individual rights.
Why do the French think that individualism is necessarily seen as a bad thing especially when associating egoism with individualism?

“Egoisme” appears 9 times on the French side, but “selfishness” doesn’t appear at all on the American side. The French words are much more negative overall.

It is possible that the idea of individualism goes against the French value of equality.

Why are the United States and England on the list for individualism? What makes them more encompassing of individualism than other Western countries?

The students in France strongly associate the word individualism with the word “egoism.” The words used in on the American aisle are almost entirely positive. L’homme noir makes a very good point about the differences in ideals that are emphasized in both countries.

I find it interesting that both have a lean towards being single or alone but with different takes on it. On the American side individualism suggests that the person stands out in a crowd or is unique, whereas for the French it suggests a person divided from the crowd or solitude.

Je pense que la mauvaise connotation du mot “individualisme” du côté français vient surtout de notre culture, notamment politique, qui est plus à “gauche” que celle des Etats-Unis (plus sociale). Mettre le groupe avant l’individu a permis à notre société de développer des réformes sociales uniques dans le genre, tel que la retraite ou la sécurité sociale. Et mettre l’individu devant la société c’est penser à soi avant le groupe, ce qui peut nuire à l’ensemble des personnes constituants ce groupe. Ce qui explique à mon avis ce côté négatif qui ressort lorsque l’on parle d’individualisme.

Ne pensez vous que mettre l’individu un peu moins en avant dans votre société pourrait être bénéfique ? Je vois aussi que certaines personnes opposent l’individualisme au capitalisme, ne pensez vous pas au contraire que l’individualisme est un des rouages essentiels du capitalisme ?

quand on regarde sur reverso les synonymes dans les deux langues, on trouve entre autres en anglais : “freethinking, independence, originality”, alors que tous les mots français sont négatifs (égoïsme, égocentrisme, nombrilisme, autisme, repliement, introversion, vanité …). Je pense donc que les différences qu’on peut observer entre nos deux pays sont simplement liés à une différence de sens, malgré que les mots aient la même racine.

Sophie, je dirais que le mot qui équivaut à “individualism” en français serait “non-conformiste”.

L’individualisme parait plus positif chez les américains dans ce sens où on l’associe à l’idée de “Self made man”. En France, je ne dirait pas que c’est rare mais moins courant de croiser ce type de personne qui se sont débrouillé afin de réussir sans qu’on ne les aide. C’est peut être dû, comme l’a souligné @rrambaud, à toutes les prestations sociales auxquelles on a droit en France.

Je me contenterais de dire que Donald Trump est le symbole parfait de l’homme individualiste. Il ne parle que de lui et ne pense qu’à lui. Il efface ses echecs (ses casinos…) et construit son “programme” sur l’idée que lui seul pourra faire plier les plus grands dirigeants du monde. Il pense être unique, il l’est probablement mais pas pour les raisons qu’ils croient. Ils refusent les syndicats et ferment la porte à l’immigration qui fait partie des origiens des USA. Etre individualiste ce n’est pas simplement être égoiste, c’est surtout faire passer sa vie avant celle des autres.
Je pense que votre définition de l’individualisme est en faite celle de l’existentialisme (dans le sens de Jean Paul Sartre =) )

erbri, je pense qu’effectivement que l’idée d’individualisme est contraire au valeur que veut représenter la France. Cela s’exprime par exemple au niveaux scolaire ou les représentations religieuses sont interdites pour éviter une discrimination. De même à l’époque des colonies, la politique française et anglaise était opposé. Les français voulaient assimiler les coloniser (leur apprendre la culture française au détriment de la leur) alors que les anglais avaient une attitude beaucoup plus pragmatique et privilégiait l’aspect commerciale.
De notre point, vue les USA et les anglais représente la même façon de pensé l’individualisme qui est en contradiction avec la notre.
Ne pensez vous pas que notre représentation est-elle bonne ? (même si utopique dans les faits)

dwar, en France, il a justement un débat sur le niveau des aides sociales à apporter aux gens. Certains voudraient se rapprocher du modèle américain en réduisant les aides. Ils accusent ces aides d’encourager les gens à ne pas travailler, on parle “d’assistanat”. D’autres souhaitent conserver ce système d’aides car il protégerait les plus faibles ( d’un point de vue économique ) et garantirait un niveau de soins excellent (voir CMU).

Personnellement je ne pense pas qu’empêcher les gens qui ont besoin de ces aides se voient du jour au lendemain privés de tout. Il faudrait certes motiver ce qui le peuvent à travailler voire à créer des emplois tout en garantissant à ceux qui en ont besoin des aides pour leur offrir un certain niveau de vie.

Alex, I see how the French definition might fit Donald Trump, and I want to point out what an example of the American definition of individualism would be. Donald does put himself first, and he is an egoist in that he never admits to being wrong, or to failure, even if he has to lie to get around it. However, he never takes a stand for something; his opinion changes every person he talks to. And this is the opposite of what the positives of the American definition point to.

I think the positive notion of what an individual is comes from our history and our politics as well. An example of the American definition would be Obama, who represents to many someone who came from nothing and got a good education and therefore succeeded, without any familial help. Or Bill Gates, who dropped out of college but became more successful than all his peers. I guess these are the kinds of “individuals” our society idolizes.

Jean-Michel, in response to your comment, I do think that the French view is good. However, I don’t think the French view on individualism and ours are mutually exclusive; I think there are two sides to being an individualist: one where one puts themselves first, where the individual is the primary focus and is the most important [selfishness], and one where one is free to express themselves how they want to and where they do what they, independently, find interesting [nonconformism]. I think there’s a spectrum of individualism, and the trick is to find the right balance. Of course, everyone has their own idea of what the “right balance” is, which is what drives some of the core debates that people have, especially now during the presidential debates happening in the U. S.
It might be because I’ve lived in the U. S. my whole life, but I don’t think our view is bad, mostly because we see it in the ‘good’ sense - the nonconformist sense. Obviously selfishness accompanies our individualism, but many people think it’s more important to be have that freedom than to put the group first.

It seems that “individualism” has a much more negative connotation in France than it does in the United States. It makes me wonder if the concept of individuality has a different connotation in France. I think in American culture, “individualism” and “individuality” are often seen as synonymous. In France it seems that “individualism” is contradicts the philosophy of the French Republic, “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” which, in the context of treating individualism as synonymous with individuality, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I feel that “individuality” should fit in nicely with the concept of Liberty: perhaps liberty of self expression?

@ Alex I found your picture of Donald Trump enlightening in terms of defining individualism from France’s perspective. A question that I would like to ask you is in regards to your comment on existentialism. My only exposure to the philosophy of existentialism is via Albert Camus, who talks about the absurdity of life, and our perseverance despite it. I know he can be called an existentialist because Camus’ philosophy, and correct me if you disagree :), can be connected to how we define our existence in the world, and in the face of absurdity, leaving us to interpret meaning for things in the world simply by imposing it. However, I’m curious as to how you think this actually relates the how Americans see “individualism,” I can’t quite make the connection in my mind, and it seems like a really cool idea!

@ rrambaud I thought that your comment that “individualism” is one of the essential gears of capitalism very interesting. I don’t think that “individualism” as you’ve defined it is not necessary for capitalism. I think that oftentimes those individuals who are seen as greedy skew the entirety of capitalism towards a negative light, but oftentimes those who create jobs and create businesses are the backbone of a capitalist economy. It’s not always a “selfish” motivation that fuels capitalism.

Jean-Michel, I find the difference between the two cultures in that regard very interesting. Ever since we are little we are told to be an individual, to be unique, creative, and to stand out. They tell you this in school, your parents tell you it, and television reinforces the idea. The idea is that by being an individual, you can make a bigger difference, and that a diverse group is more powerful and better equipped to tackle tasks than a uniform group. In France, how do they dissuade the idea of individualism/cast a negative connotation on it?

Based on the comments here, it seems to me that the world “individualism” means profoundly different things for the French and Americans. It’s not just that Americans think it’s good or the French think it’s bad, but it seems like we are having a hard time even seeing eye to eye on what it means. Or perhaps, it is just as laika said, that these are just different sides of the same coin. I think that’s a very interesting thought.

I think @lc2017’s comment about individualism vs individuality is very interesting. Is there a difference in connotation between individualism and individuality in France? Does individuality have a more positive connotation, and if so what is it? What distinguishes the two?

Americans associate money with negative things.
The French students have a more positive idea about money and how we earn it.
When the Americans think of money, they often think of people who are rich and corrupt. Money is glamorous and associated with the 1%, and it is a difficult topic for the rest of the country.
Who are the richest people in France?
Can we improve our view of money if the economy is better?