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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Dr Jeremy Kendal

Skrebyte, A., Garnett, P. & Kendal, J.R. (2016). Temporal Relationships Between Individualism–Collectivism and the Economy in Soviet Russia: A Word Frequency Analysis Using the Google Ngram Corpus. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 47(9): 1217-1235.

Author(s) from Durham


Collectivism and individualism are commonly used to delineate societies that differ in their cultural values and patterns of social behavior, prioritizing the relative importance of the group and the individual, respectively. Collectivist and individualist expression is likely to be intricately linked with the political and economic history of a society. Scholars have proposed mechanisms for both positive and negative correlations between economic growth and a culture of either individualism or collectivism. Here, we consider these relationships across the dramatic history of 20th- and early 21st-century Russia (1901-2009), spanning the late Russian Empire, the communist state, and the growth of capitalism. We sample Russian speakers to identify common Russian words expressing individualism or collectivism, and examine the changing frequencies of these terms in Russian publications collected in Google’s Ngram corpus. We correlate normalized individualism and collectivism expression against published estimates of economic growth (GDP and net material product [NMP]) available between 1961 and 1995, finding high collectivist expression and economic growth rate followed by the correlated decline of both prior to the end of Soviet system. Temporal trends in the published expression of individualism and collectivism, in addition to their correlations with estimated economic growth rates, are examined in relation to the change in economic and political structures, ideology and public discourse. We also compare our sampled Russian-language terms for individualism and collectivism with Twenge et al.’s equivalent collection from American English speakers.