From Collectivism to Individualism in Marriage Essay

January 30, 2022 by Essay Writer

Arranged marriages are decreasing

The “cultural focus” of marriage has “shifted” from a collectivist ideal to an individualistic ideal, more so in the last few decades. A marriage that is established on a collectivist ideal tends to be focused more on the interests of the in-group more than self interests. This is as opposed to the individualistic view whereby egocentrism prevails (Newman & Newman, 2008).

The collectivism practice of arranged marriages is no longer a thriving practice in most societies and instead, couples are becoming more individualistic where romantic love is central to establishment of a marriage relationship. Individuals are making personal choices on whom to settle down with in marriage and concerns about the effect of their choices on others are not of great importance.

Romantic love that has been enhanced by urbanization due to increased choice and creation of an ideal of what constitutes a relationship. Individuals are therefore highly guided by their personal choice on who to marry rather than in-group influences on partner choice.

Individualistic societies have higher divorce rates

The shift from collectivism to individualism in marriages can be seen in how conflicts are resolved between couples. In a collectivism society, the goals created by the in-group tend to have an upper hand as the couples resolve their differences.

This has changed with individualism as conflict resolution is characterized by preference of personal goals. This may to some extent explain why there has been an increase in divorce rate in the more individualistic societies like the West. In less individualistic societies like China and Africa, the divorce rate is lower since the parties have to consider the interests of clan and the in-laws (Jia-xue, 2009).

Wealth growth has reduced interdependence

Interdependence in marriages, where the couple would depend on the extended family or the community for resources or social support, is shifting as individuals are becoming more affluent in an industrialized world. The modern society has changed from an agricultural and hunting society to an industrialized one and this has diminished the advantages accrued from collective lifestyle. Couples have gained economic independence and tendency to pursue own goals or goals that affect the nuclear family only has set in.

Individuals who are settling in marriages or those who are already in marriages are becoming more affluent and the interdependence which is achieved in an in-group is diminishing. This wealth growth has promoted individualism in marriages since couples can accomplish their goals without external support.

More education has promoted individualism as characterized by late marriages and childbearing

Exposure to education is cited as one of the factors that lead to a shift from a collectivism view of life to an individualistic life (Newman & Newman, 2008). Due to more education, individuals are getting a lot of information and cultural diversity is enhanced. As a result, individual choice is strengthened as the person tends to have different views on issues that affect him or her. Presently, both partners in a marriage relationship tend be more educated and therefore personal choice has been enhanced.

It is therefore no wonder that pursuit of academic and career achievement has led to some couples marrying later in life whereas the society expects them to marry at a certain age period. In a collectivist society, in-group members are restricted into the number and extent of choices that they make.

This not only involves the decision on who to marry but also on how to conduct oneself in a marriage relationship. This may explain the recent tendency of women marrying and/ or having children later in life as they pursue their career and academic goals, which are largely personal.


Jia-xue, C. A. O. (2009). The analysis of tendency of transition from collectivism to individualism in China. Cross-cultural communication, 5(4): 42-51

Newman, B. M. and Newman, P. R. (2008). Development through life: A psychosocial approach, (Tenth edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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