Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I have been grappling with the idea of interrelationism since I first read about it (15 years ago)in Carter, A., On Individualism, Collectivism and Interrelationism Heythrop College Journal, XXXI, 1990. pp 23-38. The table summarises (prehaps over simply) some of the ideas. What has particularly concerned me is that most of our western education and theories of adolescent development have been formed in the womb of individualism. My hunch is that impacts our approach to people and to the study of the bible. Not that I have been always able to articulate this well or can point to lots of examples. I wonder does interrelationism have something to offer? What changes if individualism is not so prominent?




The individual is autonomous and self directed.

Individuals are self directed, though influenced by others.

The individual is subject to the totality of social forces: he or she is directed by the collective.

The individual can and ought to experience self development and can do so alone.

Individuals can and ought to develop together and not at each others expense.

The collective ought to experience self development irrespective of individual members.

The individual is responsible for his or her own destiny.

Individuals are responsible for both their own and others destinies.

The collective is responsible for everyone’s destiny.

Only individuals really exist.

Individuals exist in relations with others. (you can not exist out side of relationship)

Only collectives really exist.

The individual should produce in order to satisfy his or her desires in his or her way without regard for others.

The individual should produce in a way which takes into consideration not only his or her own desires but also those of others.

The individual should produce in order to satisfy the collective and in accordance with a plan which has been dictated by the collective.

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