1.5.4 - Sources of US-American Culture

 

Sources of US-American Culture

 

The origins of US-American culture are complex and drawn from many sources. One way to link contemporary US-American behavior with its historical roots is to examine some of these sources and the traits which are associated with them.

While it is useful to know what it is US-Americans value and believe in, it is also helpful to know why they believe what they do—to understand that our values and beliefs are a result of our national experience. Once you understand this fact about your own country’s culture, you can begin to appreciate that it must be true of your host country as well.

In this exercise, you reexamine some of the US-American values you have identified thus far, trying to understand their origins. Below are four defining features of the people who came to the United States, followed by a numbered list of US-American traits, many of which you have come across earlier.

 

Select the trait from the box beneath the defining feature/s you feel is the likely source of or reason behind the trait. An example from the list of traits is given for each of them. (Please note that these features describe the people who originally settled the United States and may not describe many US-Americans of today.)

 

Defining Features

Protestantism
A strong work ethic (work is intrinsically good) and the notion of predestination (salvation is apparent through worldly success)
1. Limited sense of fatalism, of accepting things as they are
2. Tolerance for differences
3. Historic low level of savings
4. Self-reliance
5. A president, not a king
6. Informality: “call me Bob”
7. The cult of celebrities, biographies of rich and famous
8. Little fear of failure
9. Modest limits of immigration
10. Acceptance of criticism or disagreement with the boss or authority figures
11. Emphasis on achievement
12. Checks and balances in the U.S. constitution
13. Identification with work or job 
14. Idea of second chance or starting over
15. Minimal supervision from bosses
16. Egalitarianism
17.Virtue of change, of newness

18. Rags to riches syndrome: the self-made man or woman

19. Waste: the disposable society; little conservation of resources
20. Frequent job and career changes
21. Big cars, big houses, sprawling malls
22. Desire to be own boss, self-employed

23. Optimism

24. Mobile society, frequency with which people move

American Geography 
The frontier, unlimited resources and opportunity, isolation, sparse population, distance from Europe

1. Limited sense of fatalism, of accepting things as they are
2. Tolerance for differences
3. Historic low level of savings
4. Self-reliance
5. A president, not a king
6. Informality: “call me Bob”
7. The cult of celebrities, biographies of rich and famous
8. Little fear of failure
9. Modest limits of immigration
10. Acceptance of criticism or disagreement with the boss or authority figures
11. Emphasis of achievement
12. Checks and balances in the U.S. constitution
13. Identification with work or job 
14. Idea of second chance, or starting over
15. Minimal supervision from bosses
16. Egalitarianism
17.Virtue of change, of newness

18. Rags to riches syndrome: the self-made man or woman

19. Waste: the disposable society; little conservation on resources
20. Frequent job and career changes
21. Big cars, big houses, sprawling malls
22. Desire to be own boss, self-employed

23. Optimism

24. Mobile society, frequency with which people move

Escape from Oppression 
From religious and economic repression and rigid class system and social stratification

1. Limited sense of fatalism, of accepting things as they are
2. Tolerance for differences
3. Historic low level of savings
4. Self-reliance
5. A president, not a king
6. Informality: “call me Bob”
7. The cult of celebrities, biographies of rich and famous
8. Little fear of failure
9. Modest limits of immigration
10. Acceptance of criticism or disagreement with the boss or authority figures
11. Emphasis of achievement
12. Checks and balances in the U.S. constitution
13. Identification with work or job 
14. Idea of second chance, or starting over
15. Minimal supervision from bosses
16. Egalitarianism
17.Virtue of change, of newness

18. Rags to riches syndrome: the self-made man or woman

19. Waste: the disposable society; little conservation on resources
20. Frequent job and career changes
21. Big cars, big houses, sprawling malls
22. Desire to be own boss, self-employed

23. Optimism

24. Mobile society, frequency with which people move

The Nature of the American Immigrant 
Out of the mainstream in home country, dissatisfied with lot in life, willing to take risks, adventuresome

1. Limited sense of fatalism, of accepting things as they are
2. Tolerance for differences
3. Historic low level of savings
4. Self-reliance
5. A president, not a king
6. Informality: “call me Bob”
7. The cult of celebrities, biographies of rich and famous
8. Little fear of failure
9. Modest limits of immigration
10. Acceptance of criticism or disagreement with the boss or authority figures
11. Emphasis of achievement
12. Checks and balances in the U.S. constitution
13. Identification with work or job 
14. Idea of second chance, or starting over
15. Minimal supervision from bosses
16. Egalitarianism
17.Virtue of change, of newness

18- Rags to riches syndrome: the self-made man or woman

19. Waste: the disposable society; little conversation on resources
20. Frequent job and carreer changes
21. Big cars, big houses, sprawling malls
22. Desire to be own boss, self-employed

23. Optimism

24. Mobile society, frequency with which people move

See Suggested Answers

 

Now that you are aware of yourself as a cultural being, it stands to reason that moving into a new culture is more than a geographic relocation. These cultural contrasts that may at first seem quaint but over time may lead to a more intense and persistent discomfort. There are ways to deal with this discomfort and its more severe form: culture shock. There is hope. The next section helps you understand and deal with culture shock.

 


.. Memories..

 


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