act whatever way you please to be accepted
America, competition, freedom
america, freedom
america, libertairians
creativity, courage
creativity, independence
egoism, freedom
freedom, egocentric
Freedom, Expression
freedom, expression, art
freedom, false, mob
freedom, rights
ideas, courage
independent, America, entrepreneurship
marriage, responsability, effort
me, conflicts
progress, risk,
self-worth, work with what you're given
think about yourself and live for yourself, somewhat selfish
unique, creativity, originality
unique, non-conformist
uniqueness, expression
uniqueness, rebellion, integrity
US, corporate

actuel, égoisme, population
american university
associable, égoïsme,
capitalisme, défaut
Egoiste, seule
les français
manque de ...
penser à soi même, pas juste, pas solidaire,
personnel, dribbleur
seul, égoisme
égoisme, nombril du monde


je suis surpris de la différence d'appréciation qu'il existe dans ce
mot. Car pour les français "l'individualisme" est un mot négative
associé à l'idée de...

Le classement des premiers synonymes

(CNRS - Université de Caen, tous droits réservés)

comme on peut constater il y a un grand écart entre notre perception de
ce mot et la votre, alors ma question est la suivante:

pouvez vous m'expliquer pourquoi et sur quelle idée vous avez associé la
"créativité" et votre pays " l'amérique" au mot "individualisme"?

Bonjour, après avoir observé les réponses concernant l'individualisme,
on constate une grosse différence d'intérprétation de ce mot. Les
Français y associent majoritairement l'égoisme alors que les américains
y associent pluôt les valeurs de liberté et de courage. Il est clair que
cette différence de point de vue s'explique par des raisons historiques
et politiques. Il est vraiment dommage d'un point de vue économique, que
l'esprit d'initiative ne soit pas autant encouragé en France qu'aux USA.
En effet celui ci ne s'oppose en rien au travail collectif, au contraire
celui ci en est enrichi et rendu bien plus productif.

It is interesting to note these differences in interpretation. If
someone told me to "be creative" I would take that to mean I should do
something in a way no one else would. I would try to come up with a
unique result. We see individualism as expression of one's own identity,
not the identity of a group. Think of the word "non-conformity." If I
choose to do something my own way, I choose not to go with the flow, I
am being an individual. Does that make sense?

In response to Jerome's comment regarding the positive effect of
individualism on our economy, it's certainly important to note the
downside of individualism on American society (and economy). While it
has no doubt been positive to have so many entrepreneurs in legitimate
enterprises, the individualist spirit in America has led to many illegal
enterprises. Consider the pimps, drug dealers, and contract killers as
individualism gone awry in America.

It is interesting that both the French and the Americans have had
revolutions in their history, but one country has developed into a
communal society, while the other has developed into an individualist
society. Why?

In America, our love of individualism can be attributed to our
rebellious nature, which can be traced to the Revolution. A desire for
individualism seems to stem from the American history of wanting to
overcome oppression.

I guess the difference might come from the fact that the people who came
from Europe were very few and found a very vast land, rich in resources
and unexploited. This was ideal to develop a sense of selfishness and
ambition, together with an idea of expansionism that helped this
individualistic approach last long enough for it to become characteristic.

To add to Evans' comment, individualism also brings trouble to small
businesses, which cannot succeed if a gigantic company is already
monopolizing the market. In this way, opportunities are not always
available and the rich are richer and the poor poorer.

I agree with Andres's interpretation. French culture in a way has always
had to struggle with the difficult task of remaining French. There is a
large percentage of French citizens who don't speak French as a first
language, who come from other countries, and who don't exhibit typical
French culture. While this is seen as a negative in France, Americans
have always fought to keep identities and cultures separate - it's
interesting to see the connotation surrounding both of the words.

I don't know if I agree that the individualistic spirit of America is
the source of pimps, drug dealers, and contract killers, but I agree
that the stress of individualistic rights in America has bad points such
as competitiveness, etc. I think Pablo's assocation of individualism
with anarchisme is interesting -- I had never thought of it that way,
but I guess it makes sense.

I was also interested that individualism had such a negative connotation
for the french students, and such a positive one for us. I think this is
because we view individualism as describing the positive results of
uniqueness - an individual is free from the constraints of society in
creating his or her destiny and is thus able to do some amazing (or
perhaps awful things). However, I think its interesting how the
differing perceptions of this word so directly reflect the differing
attitudes of society - here, there is little social protection for the
poor - they too are "individuals" and we often feel they are responsible
for their failures, just like we want to take credit for the entirety of
our success. However, the French social structure is one that promotes
the idea of equality, and lifting all members of society up at once.
This is approbrium to many Americans, who believe that the good of
society comes at the expense of liberty, and hence at the expense of

Megan says that individualism has its bad points, like competitiveness.
I disagree with that, because without competiveness, how do we better
ourselves as a whole??? competitiveness between companies also means
better products and cheaper prices for the mass of society. I think alot
of what America is about is being an individual and working/living for
yourself, and then contributing what you have accomplished to society so
that we a "melting pot" of ideas, products, cultures, etc.

I agree with ChaLing. The point is that in this country, it's worth it
to have a couple of downsides in order to preserve what we consider to
be fundamental rights. Individualism in this country also produces
people who grow up to be menbers of the KKK. But then again, it also
produces Nobel Laureates and some of the best universities in the world.
It is absolutely worth it, no matter what downside there is - otherwise,
we'd be back where we started over 200 years ago.

I spoke with my housemate, who is French, about this, and she shed some
interesting insight upon the words. She indicated that she perceived in
French that the words "individualisme" and "individualite" have two
different meanings - individualism is egoism, while individualite is
being your own person, being creative.

We looked up the two english words, individualism and individuality in
the dictionary, and found -

individualism - 1) a doctrine that the interests of the individual are
or ought to be ethically paramount; conduct guided by such a doctrine.
2) the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in

individuality - total character peculiar to and distinguishing an
individual from others: personality

It seems to me that individualism has, for the americans, taken on the
meaning of individuality - a person's creativity, originality, and
freedom in being oneself. However, it seems that for the french
students, the words have remained distinct - individualism is a belief
in the supremacy of the individual, and individuality is a character
trait. In the context of French society, it makes sense that
individualism would be somewhat negative. For the Americans, I think the
two words have blended to the point that they are both positive.
(although to the extent that individualism remains distinct as a
philosophy, expressed when people said the word "freedom," it is
positive, not negative.)

Interesting connotations for society. I'd be interested to hear if the
French students agree that this is the difference.