Are we individuals or members of groups?

There is much debate in developed countries about the effects of 'individualism'. Individualism is perhaps the most dominant belief system in Western countries. The belief in individualism emerged slowly from the 1600s through to the 1800s and by the 20th century had become simply the way that people in the Western world think.

'Individualism' is the belief that every person must (and should) take care of themselves; it is the belief and practice that every person is unique and self-reliant. At a societal level, it means governments develop policies, laws and rules that focus on the rights of individuals, not on their duty to groups (e.g. family, work, nation, ethnic group).

The debate that occurs about individualism, is mostly concerned with its effects. Overall, has it had a positive effect (e.g. the Western world has advanced technology due to the creative and critical thinking of individuals) or a negative effect (e.g. people in the Western world tend to be selfish, competitive and do not share their merit).

''Some people believe that allowing young people to make the own decisions (such as clothing, work, entertainment, education, relationships) is likely to result in a society that is selfish and in which individuals only think about their own needs and desires. On the other hand, some people argue it is important for young people to develop as individuals and make decisions about matters that affect them''.

Read the above statement carefully and identify the two opinions.

Write an essay and discuss both the views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

Enter your essay in the test sheet below.


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