these are really just some notes on universalism vs. particularism that i want to jot down before i forget about them. (been known to happen.) i’ll be coming back to these ideas of universalism and particularism — particularly wrt ideas about morality and actual moral behaviors — in a later post(s).

previously, in this post:

“in ‘Corruption, Culture, and Markets,’ lipset & lenz…[pgs. 119-120 - links and emphases added by me]…

“‘The second major cultural framework, one derived from Plato via Banfield, assumes that corruption is in large part an expression of particularism — the felt obligation to help, to give resources to persons to whom one has a personal obligation, to the family above all but also to friends and membership groups. Nepotism is its most visible expression. Loyalty is a particularistic obligation that was very strong in precapitalist, feudal societies. As Weber implied, loyalty and the market are antithetical. The opposite of particularism is universalism, the commitment to treat others according to a similar standard. Market norms express universalism; hence, pure capitalism exhibits and is sustained by such values.’”

now, from Communicating Across Cultures [pgs. 81-82 - links and emphases added by me]:

“Universalistic-Based versus Particularistic-Based Interaction

“Independent-self individuals like to use a ‘universal’ set or a ‘fair’ set of standards to measure others’ performance. In comparison, interdependent-self individuals prefer to use a ‘contextual’ or a ‘particular’ set of criteria to evaluate others’ performance in different situations.

“According to Parson’s (1951) work, there are two kinds of societies: ‘universalistic’ and ‘particularistic.’ Independent-self individuals tend to be located in universalistic societies, whereas interdependent-self individuals tend to be located in particularistic societies. People in universalistic societies, such as Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Norway, believe that laws and regulations are written for everyone and must be upheld by everyone at all times. In contrast, for people in particularistic societies, such as China, South Korea, Venezuela, and Russia, the nature of the particular relationship in a given situation will determine how you will act in that situation (Trompenaars, 1994).

For members of universalistic societies, the law or regulations should treat everyone equally. On the other hand, for members of particularistic societies, the laws or regulations can be molded to fit the specific relationship or the in-group needs. Universalistic work practice emphasizes the importance of detailed contracts and penalty clauses in order to conduct business properly; particularistic work practices focuses on developing interpersonal trust and close social ties to maintain work commitment.

“The in-group asserts a profound impact, especially in particularistic societies. The concept of an ‘in-group’ can refer to both the actual kinship network to which you belong (e.g., your family group) and the reference groups (e.g., work group, political group) with which you identify closely. On the cultural level of analysis, the definition of the in-group can vary tremendously across cultures. For example, in the United States, the in-group is typically defined as ‘people who are in agreement with me on important issues and values’ (Triandis, 1989, p. 53 [pdf]). For the traditional Greeks, the in-group is defined as ‘family and friends and people who are concerned with my welfare’ (Triandis, 1989. p. 53). For the Western Samoans, the in-group consists of the extended family and the immediate village community (Ochs, 1988). For many of the Latin American groups, in-group refers to the extended family and the immediate neighborhood. For Arab cultures, in-group refers to immediate and extended family networks of parents, spouses, siblings, related cousins, and even honored guests who are unrelated to the host….

“For individualistic [universalistic] cultures, the in-group and out-group share a permeable boundary; for collectivistic [particulartic] cultures, in-group and out-group interaction follows a clear set of prescribed, identity-related behaviors.”

i think that there’s a connection between individualistic [outbred] societies having more universalistic ideals/morality and clannish [inbred] societies having particularistic ideals/morality.

kevin macdonald wrote extensively on how gypsy morality applies only within gypsy society — gypsy morality does not apply to non-gypsies [pdf]. in other words, gypsies are inbred [pg. 10 – pdf], clannish, and have a very particularistic moral system. at the other end of the spectrum we’ve got groups like the unitarians where everything goes, really, and just about everybody is included.

i’d like to think more about all the different religions/religious denominations and all the various moral systems in general and work out which ones are universalistic and which ones are particularistic — and how much. if you’ve got any ideas about all this, drop them in the comments, please! (^_^) for instance, roman catholicism is pretty universalistic (“catholic”) in that anybody can join up, but you do have to join up to be saved, so it’s not 100% universalistic. then you have judaism in which, i think, there’s a range of universalism-particularism — you can’t join the hasidim (i’m assuming), but you can convert to (is it?) reform judaism. but, again, you’ve got to join up.

one group that i think is particularly interesting is the calvinists. calvinism is often characterized as being individualistic in that the reform churches broke with roman catholicism and, like other protestants, argued for a more direct connection between individuals persons and god; but calvinism is, in fact, very particularistic in its ideas of reprobation and double predestination. you can’t just join up — god has to choose you. that’s particularistic.

previously: individualism-collectivism and familism, respect for parents, and corruption

(note: comments do not require an email. calvin.)