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Collectivism refers to "a political or economic theory advocating collective control, especially over production and distribution. In collectivism, the whole is emphasized over individual action or identity." -Merriam Webster [1]

Collectivism, in contrast of individualism, encourages cooperation over competition. Collectivist values revolve around what is best for a community and society. Helping others and asking for help from others is not only encouraged but viewed as essential. 

Examples of Collectivism

The COVID-19 pandemic

For the initial phases of the pandemic, much of our society followed a more collectivist approach to COVID-19 precautions (though it wasn't perfect). Collectivist messaging related to the pandemic includes, for example:

  • Individuals should vaccinate, wear masks and limit unmasked gatherings to limit the spread of COVID. This is to ensure hospital workers are not overwhelmed with patients, and to prevent death, severe illness or long-term disability in others (especially those who are elderly, immunocompromised, disabled or chronically ill).
  • This discourse suggests individuals are responsible for contributing to public safety. "There is no individual safety without collective safety and collective safety requires that no one is safe unless everyone is safe." - Mia Mingus [2]

The climate crisis [3] [4]

  • A collectivist approach to the climate crisis understands that we cannot individual-action our way out of the climate crisis. Instead, we must build solidarity together to face the systems of power perpetuating the crisis.
  • Collectivism understands that we are all connected in our struggles for justice, and that together we are stronger. 
  • Collectivism suggests we cannot leave any groups to bear the brunt of climate devastation, and that we must support others around the world in their transition, as individual countries alone making the necessary changes will not be enough.
  • Studies suggest that countries and communities with cultures that follow more collectivist values have a lesser impact on the climate crisis. [5]

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