Difference Between Communal and Individualistic Cultures

Key Difference – Communal vs Individualistic Cultures

Communal culture and individualist culture are two types of cultures that can be seen in a society between which a key difference can be identified. Every society consists of a culture. This culture dictates the values, customs, mores, norms, beliefs and social taboos of a particular society. In the world today, while some societies have individualistic cultures, others do not. The key difference between these two types stems from the focus that each denotes to people. In individualist cultures, the focus is more on the individual, but in communal cultures, the focus is on the community or groups of individuals over a single person. Through this article let us examine the differences between communal and individualist cultures.

What are Communal Cultures?

Communal cultures are those cultures in which the emphasis is on the group over the individual. This highlights that in communal cultures more value is given to the group and its achievements over the individual achievement. Most Asian societies can be considered as examples of communal cultures as they share certain characteristics that enable them to be categorized as societies with communal cultures.

One of the key characteristics is that communal cultures stress the interdependence people have among others. In such cultures, strong relationships are created with others. Other qualities such as loyalty, teamwork, family expectations can also be seen. This is why in communal cultures most people tend to attribute their success to their loved ones and highlight that success was achieved as a group with the assistance of many people.

Difference Between Communal and Individualistic Cultures

What are Individualistic Cultures?

Individual cultures are those cultures in which the emphasis is on the individual over the group. Unlike in communal cultures, in individualistic cultures, the personal achievements are valued. If a person achieves something of his own, it is considered as a true victory. Another feature that can be observed in individualistic cultures is the stress on independence. People not only seek independence but also highly value it. Unlike in communal cultures where people put the needs of the family before self, in individualistic cultures, the needs of the individual come first. Hence, the reliance on others is also minimal. Experts highlight that this, in fact, leads to loneliness in individuals.

Another key difference that one can notice is that in individualistic cultures the individual gets an opportunity to shine. Such cultures appreciate the uniqueness of the individual, unlike in communal cultures where it can be considered or viewed as non-conformity.

Key Difference - Communal vs Individualistic Cultures

What is the difference between Communal and Individualistic Cultures?

Definitions of Communal and Individualistic Cultures:

Communal Cultures: Communal cultures are those cultures in which the emphasis is on the group over the individual.

Individualistic Cultures: Individual cultures are those cultures in which the emphasis is on the individual over the group.

Characteristics of Communal and Individualistic Cultures:


Communal Cultures: In communal cultures, the group is at the centre.

Individualistic Cultures: In individualistic cultures, the individual is at the centre.


Communal Cultures: Most Asian countries have communal cultures.

Individualistic Cultures: Most Western countries have individualistic cultures.

Values and beliefs:

Communal Cultures: All individuals have common values and beliefs. In this sense, values are universal.

Individualistic Cultures: There is a wide variety of values and beliefs.


Communal Cultures: Communal cultures stress on interdependence.

Individualistic Cultures: Individualist cultures stress on independence.


Image Courtesy:

1. Chinese new year market By Img by Calvin Teo – Own work [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

2. Standing on the yellow platform line By Yanping Nora Soong – taken with a Canon 5D and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens at 1/5th second exposure [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons