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American Culture

Aug 9, 2008
The first idea that comes to my mind when I think of American culture is uniqueness. Our culture is drastically different from so many others around the globe and those differences (some good and some bad) are what make our unique country what it is.

Culture is defined by The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third edition as "The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next." American cultural traits are vast because of the diversity of its population. Key American cultural traits are outlined in the textbook Global Issues and Change by B. Johnson and J.S. Johnson they are listed as 1) Freedom, 2) Individualism, 3) Self-Reliance, 4) Achievement and 5) Pragmatism. All five of these characteristics have played an important role in the shaping of the American culture but the one that stands out the most is freedom. Without freedom none of the other characteristics would have developed. Freedom is what has made the entire American experience possible. The individualist idea developed as a result of the larger goal of freedom, they are offshoots of each other. Individualism requires a freedom of the individual, which was not possible under colonial rule where England took precedence over the individual. Furthermore self-reliance, achievement and pragmatism all were made possible by America's freedom.

Progress is what always has and continues to drive America both in business and its citizen's personal life. We are always looking for ways to improve a product, or develop a new one and similarly are always looking to improve our lives. Optimism permeates American culture, and is the motivating force for so many looking to improve their lives. A fundamental core to the American dream is that anyone, from anywhere, can be anything they want to be if they work hard and have the motivation to accomplish the tasks needed to reach their goals. America historically is a nation of progress, with its humble beginnings in The American Revolution it has developed through the colonial period, into the frontier days, to the industrial revolution and into modern times. We have constantly moved steadily higher as a civilization and have always overcome any obstacle placed in our path (Great Depression for example). Progress always has been and always will be a part of the American character. As we continue to progress into a world economy which continues to become increasingly Americanized it will be interesting to see how the American culture progresses and is accepted into the twenty first century.

The American culture has produced one of the most economically booming eras in history. The fact that we have created more wealth in the past 50 years than has been created in all the centuries of the world before 1950 speaks volumes. (Global Issues and Change, B. Johnson and J.S. Johnson) and (Global Fortune: The Stumble and Rise of World Capitalism by Ian Vasquez). Our unique culture has shaped both us as individuals and our country as a whole into the superpower we are today.

references:

culture. (n.d.). The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved August 14, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture

Johnson, B., Johnson, J.S. (2004). Global Issues and Change. Nappanee, IN: EvangelPress.

Vasquez, I. (2000). Global Fortune: The Stumble and Rise of World Capitalism. Washington D.C.: Cato Institute.
About the Author
John Schlismann has an interest in international affairs and how they relate to American culture. For more information on American culture check out the Life in the USA Web site: http://www.lifeintheusa.com/
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