Sources of American Culture
In this exercise, you look behind some of the American values you have identified thus far, trying to understand where they come from. While it is useful to know what it is 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.
Below are four defining features of the people who came to the United States, followed by a numbered list of American traits, many of which you have come across earlier in this chapter.
|Place the number of the trait in the space 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.
A strong work ethic-work is intrinsically good-and the notion of predestination, that salvation is apparent through worldly success.
The frontier, unlimited resources and opportunity, isolation, sparse population, distance from Europe.
ESCAPE FROM OPPRESSION
From religious and economic repression and rigid class system and social stratification.
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
5. A president, not a king
6. Informality: "Call me Bob."
7. The cult of celebrities; biographies of the rich and famous
8. Little fear of failure
9. Modest limits on 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 a second chance, of starting over
15. Minimal supervision from bosses
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
24. Mobile society; frequency with which people move