My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships

Overview: Individualism vs. Collectivism

The high side of this dimension, called Individualism, can be defined as a preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. Its opposite, Collectivism, represents a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. A society’s position on this dimension is reflected in whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “we.” (Hofstede, n.d. b)

On the scale for individualism, a higher score indicates a country more inclined to individualism. The Netherlands ranked 4/5 on this scale out of 53 countries and regions; to say it is among those countries that value individualism most. Only the United States, Australia and Great Britain ranked higher. Israel ranked 19, which is still above the world average. The Arab countries ranked 26/27, somewhat below the world average, and tending to collectivism (Hofstede, 2001). We may postulate that the Bedouins, living a rural life tend more to collectivism than the average person in the Arab world does. It needs to be noted that the difference on this scale between the Netherlands and the Arab countries is very large. Nevertheless, according to Hofstede the populations of many countries – especially Latin American, African and Asian countries – are still more inclined to collectivism than measured in the Arab countries.

The differences in value orientation as regarding individualism and collectivism may express themselves in many aspects of the friendship. Following, I will provide examples for four of these aspects, namely perceptions of the friendship itself, getting acquainted, meals and other celebrations, and work attitudes. After that, I will try to provide some insight in the socio-political (collective) context of our friendship.


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About the Author

Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations. Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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