Community Culture vs Individualism: How Community Culture Could Corrupt the Economic Stimuli


(Photo: Ensamble Rustavi)

Disclaimer: Just scratching the surface. No scientific background, whatsoever! 

I am 24 and I still do not have a saving account. I never even bothered with thinking about it much. Except, on the level of "oh my god, I am so irresponsible, I should start saving". 

I always attributed this first to me being a student, then me being a fresh employee, then me earning not enough, then me earning enough but increasing expenses. To cut it short, I always found a rational excuse or explanation on why I did not own a saving account. 

A week ago, I am fresh out of money (granted I had to repay my credit card and student loan, but still) and I still have couple of weeks to go to next salary. I started thinking on a deeper basis. Basically, I had almost no money left and 2 weeks of no probability of getting any either, except ... I could ask my parents, or a close friend, or take more debt. 

I immediately neglected Idea no. 3. I was deeply in credit card debt once, I am not going there again. Idea no. 2 - a close friend - I had certain prejudices on who to ask the money from. These prejudices are by no means connected to the closeness of the friends (since, if I was to borrow money from any friend, those are already my some of the most closest ones). But to choose a right candidate from these friends, or to be more precise to choose a friend that would be least uncomfortable for me to borrow the money I went all the way from Georgia to Lithuania. I must mention I have few closest friends so the choice was not that broad either, but rather diversified in terms of national backgrounds. Now, the rationale behind picking out the potential piggy bank was first and foremost: this is emberassing, I hope she/he does not judge me. So, I guess, subconsciously, I eliminated banks from the foreign countries, since I decided that the friend that was brought up in the same culture as I would understand why I was out of money (granted I have a rather competitive salary) in two weeks. I figured, he/she should know my family background, my expenses, the way I live, how I live and what I have to deal with on daily basis. 

As for idea no. 1, I never like taking money from my parents, however, this case can be an outlier. In usual cases, my friends from Georgia would list family as the first resort. 

Now, I later started thinking about the phenomenon of "it's ok that I am out of money, I can probably get by". This was the beginning of, as I now think of it, a revelation. 

Why I am not afraid of being out of money and why I do not save is because I somehow, subconsciously or consciously, make a cost-benefit analysis of some sort. I determine, that even if I overspent at some point, I can still depend on the help of those nearest and dearest to get by. So my costs are, well, my pride when asking for a loan and my benefits of overspendig are far  more vast than that, or that's how my brain determines it to be. 

"The sense of getting by" is way more common in community based cultures, than it is in individualistic societies, or so I have observed. I have made some thought experiments and determined that this is probably what draws back the community-based cultures while those based on individual values advance without looking back. 

In individualistic societies, the sense of being on your own is far deeper rooted in one's conscioussness. Thus, the need of saving and careful financial planning becomes far more important than in the community based societies where without careful planning and without a saving account one can somehow still get by, parents, friends, coworkers. In this case, community based culture accepts the fact that one might not plan and count on others to help out far better than does an individualistic society. 

If the effect is accumulated, it can create a general pattern, being the accumulated trend of savings, innovation and fiscal and monetary responsibility. 

This might be a key to solving a more deep-rooted problem when it comes to advancing community based societies who are still lagging back despite having the same "cargo" as do the individualistic societies. 

I want to wrap this up with a simple example. My friend is visiting in August for a trip around Georgia. We need to cover a lot of places in 10 days. Meaning, we almost certainly need a car. Now, I had several options

  1. rent a car (which is 700 Euros for 10 days, the least) so 175 euros each (we will be 4 people) plus the gas
  2. borrow a car from my uncle or my dad 

In a community based culture the trend will always be towards borrowing the car, whereas in an individualistic society that will be the last resort. 

However, the innovation model goes more like this. So, You need a car and cannot afford to pay 700, what do you do?

  1. in an individualistic society: look for cheaper, more innovative solution
  2. in a community-based society: ask from a relative/friend/uncle and if you don't get it, well you most probably will get it

so, in the first case, refusing the be dependent on my relatives and not willing to pay this much, I came up with a solution to rent a car at a lower rate from a friend I know is not using it very often. So it's beneficial both for me and for him. For him, it is a way of earning money and for me that I now have to pay 500 GEL instead of 1400. 

Individualistic culture encourages the innvoative solutions and cost-efficient decision. I would like to argue that the community culture does so in a much lesser extent since the co-dependence degree is much higher. And as in any co-dependent situations, such as, society being dependent on the government, individuals tend to be less productive, more lazy and unwilling to alter the situation whereas, in more free markets, where the dynamics is faster and competition is more fierce, they tend to innovate more and the market supplies countless options and accumulates demands, creating a diverse supply side in volumes high enough for the diversity to be profitable. And this, folks, is pretty much what wealth is all about! 


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