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A2 Government & Politics Liberalism
A social theory favouring the freedom of action for individuals over state control
Individualism vs. Collectivism
Individualism is the complete opposite of collectivism. Individualistic cultures emphasise individual
goals. They also emphasise their personal success and achievements and aim to climb up the
hierarchal system. Collectivistic countries emphasise group goals. Harmony and loyalty within a
company is essential in collectivistic cultures, not competition.
"Individualism is at once an ethical-psychological concept and an ethical-political one. As an
ethical-psychological concept, individualism holds that a human being should think and judge
independently, respecting nothing more than the sovereignty of his or her mind; thus, it is intimately
connected with the concept of autonomy. As an ethical-political concept, individualism upholds the
supremacy of individual rights" ­ Nathan Branden
"Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group -- whether to a race, class or state
does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective
thought for the sake of what is called 'the common good'." ­ Ayn Rand
Methodological Individualism and Ethical Individualism
Methodological individualism is a doctrine claiming social phenomena must be explained by showing
how they result from individual actions and was introduced by Max Weber in the opening chapter of
his book Economy and Society. In his book he writes "it is a tremendous misunderstanding to think
that an `individualistic' method should involve what is in any conceivable sense an individualistic
system of values", suggesting it is not a political ideology. However, it can be argued it has become a
doctrine of political content as it has been used in numerous political debates in the 20th Century.
Social Contract Theory
Social contract theory is the belief that individualism can justify the minimal state.
Unit 3 ­ Introducing Political IdeologiesPage 1


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