Culture Note: Independence & Community Cooperation

A recent Atlantic article explored “Why Japanese Kids Can Walk to School Alone?”  This seemingly mundane activity has extreme elements of socio-cultural depth to it.  Two chief cultural elements come into play with this: individualism and collectivism.

At first glance, the average American would point and say “Look how they make kids fend for themselves instead of babying them!”  Our sense of individualism and belief in independent liberty seem justified.  There’s an amazing television series that records the “First Errands” of children.  I found a video of 1 year old girl being sent out alone, which seems CRAZY.

Yet, this methodology of child rearing is dependent on the collective community or society.  A child is safer because all of the people understand and recognize there are other people around them to be mindful or careful of, including children.  If a child is lost, or needs to figure something out, an adult will direct or assist.  However, another Australian video online compares their child safety against Japan’s.  Admittedly one Australian indicates because of the self-interest of individuals, they are less concerned for the community or safety of children as secondary to their own needs.

Although some may exclaim how individualism is at play here, the cultural variation and value of community cooperation creates a “group sense” that is really helping allow this independent growth to occur.

Feel free to contact us at Idea Threads for more on cross cultural concepts and training.  Thanks, Devin

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