capitalism, rights, power
competition, independence, original
freedom, ego, choice
freedom, independence
important, courage,
important, freedom, American
important, responsibility
independence, egocentric
insecure, lonely
justice, euphoria, strength
loneliness, selfish
me, America, sex
privacy, self-governed
right, humanism, Renaissance
self respect,courage
self, pride
selfish, independence, ego
sin, isolation, pride
thought, truth

argent, ego,
capitalisme, athéisme
les etats unis,
opportunisme, égoïsme,
Parisiens, Travail, entreprise,
pourquoi pas moi
seul, capitalisme
égoisme, capitalisme,
égoïsme, arrivisme, solitude
égoïsme, enrichissement personnel, capitalisme
égoïsme, repliement
égoïsme, travail, écraser, indifférence
égoïsme, égocentrisme


Positive vs. Negative

Individualism, it seems, has entirely different meanings/conotations in America/France. The words that came up frequently on the American side were "freedom" and "independence." On the French side, the most frequent words were "égoïsme" and "capitalisme". I think that America has a history of supporting individualism. It is an ideal that sprung from the American Revolution, where "the individual" and "individual freedoms" were very important. Because of this, Americans have a very positive view of individualism. Why, is it, do you think that the French views on individualism seems to be more negative?


"Capitalisme" came up several times in the French responses to the words. I was wondering, do you consider "capitalism" to be a positive or a negative word?

America as symbol of Individualism?

I thought it was interesting that both sides mentioned America in their responses, Parisiens was mentioned once on the French side, but no other countries were mentioned. Why is it that only America was mentioned? Is America considered to be the symbol of individualism even though most other countries have had revolutions too?

Individualisme &Travail?

Could someone explain better the association between "Individualisme" and "Travail"? It was mencioned two times in the French responses and none in the American side.

Individualism in France

Do the French view themselves as having lots of individualism? Or is that more a typical American from a French perspective? Also, could someone explain "pourquoi pas moi?" I don't think I understand how that relates.


Why are Parisians especially individualistic?

different connotations of individualism

I agree that perhaps the French and Americans have different views of the word individualism. To me, individualism is being yourself - to be able to think for yourself and say what you think. I've never thought about associating competition with other people and success with the word individualism. In this light, it makes more sense to me why words like egoisme, capitalism, and seul came up so many times on the French side.

Definitions of Individualism

I agree with Howard and Gabrielle's observations. It seems to me that the French and the English definitions of individualism are very different. It seems that in French, the primary connotation is that an individualist is someone who doesn't think of others and will only do things to further improve their own situation, even if it means stepping on others. In America, the definition is more along the lines of someone who is independent, who doesn't necessarily conform to popular thought and instead has their own unique thoughts and feelings. This might explains why the French seem to have a negative connotation to the word while Americans have positive connotations.

But How Did These Different Definitions Spring Up?

I admit that when I first saw the responses, I was very surprised. I never imagined that the word would have such a negative undertone with the French (in comparison to the American). I also understand and completely agree with the observations above. It certainly seems that the French definition of individualism is closer linked to selfishness than the American version (which is closer linked to individual freedom). However, is there some past history of the two nations that caused such a variation in the definitions of this word? Why is there more of a negative undertone with the word for the French than for the American?


I took a look at the bar graph comparing the words used to describe inidividualism. The differences in how Americans and French perceive the word really stands out. The Americans described inidividualism with positive words like liberty, courage, rights, power, and important. The French described individualism with negative words, such as seul, arrivisme, opportunisme, and ego. It seems from the graph that Americans also associate individualism with ego. However, I'm curious about which words were associated with ego other than ego, because I only see three instances of ego/egocentric on the American side. I am guessing that selfish is one of them. However, the only other words that seem related are self, self respect, and self-governed, which I would not have considered to be related to ego. To me, those three words are positive words that describe the freedom and rights of the individual. What do you think? From the graph, it also seems that the French associate individualism with work/job, since the words travail, capitalism, and opportunisme were used many times. Both sides seem to agree that the U.S. is closely associated with the word inidividualism.