Individualism Under Constraining Social Norms: Conceptualizing the Lived Experiences of LGBT persons

AVANT. Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 1 (12):1-22 (2021)
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Value conflicts between individualism and collectivism are common. In philosophy, such conflicts have been conceptualized as conflicts between individuality and conformity, among other things. This article develops a more detailed conceptual framework by combining philosophical analysis with empirical observations. The focus is on value conflicts pertaining to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) factors in a non-individualist society (Georgia). Conservative or traditional norms sometimes constrain LGBT individuals by influencing them to adapt to social expectations. The phenomenon is intuitively clear and has been reported on in numerous quantitative investigations. A qualitative study has been conducted on how LGBT individuals in Georgia experience the constraining influence of such norms. Deep interviews (n=8) have clarified how, more precisely, the effects of those influences should be conceptualized. The results indicate that important distinctions between different types of influences, as well as different objects of influence, have been overlooked in previous philosophical inquiries about value conflicts in this context. The conceptual framework developed throughout the article should be of use to philosophers and social scientists studying individualism and collectivism, and to policymakers working with LGBT issues.

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Jesper Ahlin Marceta
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