Sometimes I feel like we all live in an upside down world. When preparing a lecture I suddenly saw something that could illustrate this. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have been important for how social scientists and others have been looking at our society. If things really are upside down, why not try to turn the hierarchy of needs upside down as well and see what’s happening? (No, I do not have any deeper knowledge about the ideas behind the hierarchy or its current status in psychology…)
Somehow it sounds right to me that more and more people actually see the world this way. Mostly young people I believe, but it have been spreading for some time. Here we can refer to e g Anthony Giddens discussion about modernity…
Even if I saw this mostly as a fun experiment, it really made me think about how modern western societies are organized. They are built to support the lower levels of the Maslow hierarchy of needs (not the upside down version) which are believed to be the basic needs of the citizens.
Can it be so that the basic needs logic of the modern citizen in the western world have changed when the whole society have moved up the hierarchy?
I wonder if one of the major problems we have in our society today is that the largest group of the population have the needs of the two top levels of Maslow’s hierarchy? I am not saying that there doesn’t exist needs belonging to the lower levels as well, but the reasons for that may include that the democratic system fails to support the now basic needs of self-esteem and actualization? Instead the society’s most active, energetic and competent people search fulfillments of these needs elsewhere and most commonly in different activist groups or in spiritual or religious communities. Communities which in some cases are in harmony with the rest of the society, but sometimes in conflict with it. Regardless of which they are separate communities defining new visions, values and norms in parallel to the visions, values and norms which the democratic systems promote.