Dictionary Definition

interdependence n : a reciprocal relation between interdependent entities (objects or individuals or groups) [syn: mutuality, interdependency]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the condition of being interdependent


Extensive Definition

Not to be confused with interconnectivity or interconnectedness.
Interdependence is a dynamic of being mutually responsible to and sharing a common set of principles with others. This concept differs distinctly from "dependence" in that an interdependent relationship implies that all participants are emotionally, economically, and/or morally "interdependent." Some people advocate freedom or independence as a sort of ultimate good; others do the same with devotion to one's family, community, or society. Interdependence recognizes the truth in each position and weaves them together. Two people in a good relationship are said to be interdependent.It can also be defined as the interconnectedness and the reliance on one another socially, economically, environmentally and politically.

Uses of the term

Marx first used the term interdependence in the Communist Manifesto (1848) in describing the universal interdependence of nations in comparison to the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency. Will Durant made one Declaration of Interdependence on April 8, 1944. Others have been written in the years since, and interest in the United States has picked up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Leaders as diverse as Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Stephen Covey have written and spoken at length about interdependence:
The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community. --William James
''Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality. --Mahatma Gandhi, 1929
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and parts of the United States – a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. --U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. --John Muir
...for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. --Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream, 1963
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
--Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won't be good leaders or team players. They're not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality.'' --Stephen Covey

See also

interdependence in Danish: Interdependens
interdependence in German: Interdependenz
interdependence in Spanish: Interdependencia
interdependence in French: Interdépendance
interdependence in Dutch: Interdependentie
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