Tuesday, February 28, 2012

American Culture Research Paper

Research Paper on American Culture

American Style
The phenomenon of American culture can be explained by the fact that it was developing apart from traditional conservatism of European culture where prejudices and old beliefs dominated over the minds of people for a long time. Its early history and early evens which led to the creation of the new nation had contributed to the future American culture and American character. The idea of American culture has been always based on equity and democracy principles, even the first colonies of puritans were self governed and were the first cells of democracy. Historically favorable economical and political conditions made the USA a land of opportunities for Europeans and immigrants from Asia as they could fully realize themselves in case they worked hard.


Geographical isolation from Europe and neutrality of the USA in major conflicts of continental Europe created a unique outlook and attitudes towards the rest of the world. Today American culture is a unique culture which is characterized by an individualism of outlook and unique attitudes toward material and spiritual components of one’s life. In many respects it’s of course based on traditional European values and European culture as both cultures have Christian religion as a main source of moral and are based on Christian values and Christian virtues.

Traditional American values are: material success, individualism, democracy and education played a key role in forming what is now known as American society. In many respects all of these values are mutually dependent as they re based on the principles of freedom and individualism. These principles play one of the major roles not only society but in economics and in nature in general. Suppressing freedom one can not achieve stability and prosperity. Freedom of trade, freedom of religion and freedom of speech these were the freedoms which were in the USA in the eighteenth century already and which were realized in Europe only fifty-seventy years later. Freedoms and democracy influenced the American culture and consciousness of people in different ways: Americans are sure that every one is equal behalf the law, everyone has equal opportunities. Equality and democracy are seen everywhere in the society: in the family, education, relations between representatives of different cultures in multi-ethnic communities of American cities, religious tolerance, and liberty in the issues of diversity of minorities and sexual issues. From the other side values of equality and democracy also contribute on the attitudes of a person towards the country and towards national symbols, as there are few countries where citizens demonstrate such patriotism as Americans do. 

Another value of material success and financial prosperity also influenced American consciousness. It’s seen in the desire of young Americans to quickly gain financial independence from their parents, individualism and desire to make decisions independently from early age. American youth becomes more responsible and financially independent earlier than their coevals from Europe or Asia, where there are closer inner family relations and bigger dependence of children upon the will of the parents. From this point material success, prosperity and social passion is measurement in American society, it’s a measurement of personality, his fortune and his abilities. In difference to other cultures the measurement of success and prosperity in the USA is hard work, persistence and diligence, none in America says “you are lucky” to the person who is richer or who got a higher grade on test.

Globalization processes of course play a great role on the dynamics in modern societies and cultures, and the USA is not an exception. It’s generally agreed that it was formed on the base of English; German and Irish culture in many respects but other cultures of Western, eastern and Southern Europe influenced it also. American culture got the influence from the African and Asian peoples as well. Still the first three cultures remained to be dominant. Probably today it’ hard to draw and describing details the particularities of any sub culture inside of American culture if we don’t take into consideration religious side and emotional particularities of the representatives of this culture. The main difference probably would be the issue of existing collectivism in a number of sub cultures, while American traditional culture is more an individual one. Individualism is characteristic for the most of European cultures (British, French, German, Scandinavian, etc.) Collectivism is more common for Eastern cultures, eastern religion and also nearly all Southern Europe (including Spain and Italy). In these cultures the role of the individual is seen only inside of a group of relatives or other close people which are mutually dependent.

It’s not similar for traditional American culture, where individualism is probably one of the key factors in personal success within American society. Individualism results in the growth of responsibilities of an individual, his responsibility over the decisions he makes, etc. But at the same time individualism sometimes results in alienation of members of society not only from other members of society, but from their close people, relatives, children, parents, etc. Perhaps it’s one of the main social problems in the USA today, it’s the thing I would like to change in myself, and from this point traditional American culture has a lot to borrow from other cultures, where the value of the family is central. It will help to save family in traditional understanding and will also help to preserve Christian tradition of family.
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