Every human being is raised in a certain culture. This culture shapes the world view in ways a person might not be even conscious of. Everybody knows what culture is; however, most people have difficulty verbalizing what they know. Most of them do not spend much time thinking about culture. What is more, Americans are not often questioned about culture in general and about their culture specifically. However, when they do, unfortunately, they can not provide a convincing answer. The lack of persuasive responses among Americans is often caused by the lack of understanding of culture and its role in their lives in general. In addition, the question whether American culture exists or not is still a controversial one. Despite having no notion of the culture in the modern world and of the role it plays in the lives of ordinary Americans, the thing that is called American culture do exist.

 

In the eyes of some people culture is the thing that differs us from animals. This is what makes us humans. Many people think that culture simply refers to the place where the person was born and where he or she was growing up. In fact, most Americans consider culture to be related to nationality, heritage, tradition, or a way of life. For the others, culture is what characterizes people from different parts of the world. It is quite common to hear that some people associate culture with some racial grouping or family to which they are assigned. While answering the question of where culture comes from people give response ranging from history, memory, tradition and generations to family, environment inventions, or even God. However, in fact, a great number of Americans believe that their culture comes from their families as it was the very place where they got acquainted with their family traditions and got to know about their heritage. Family and ancestry are very influential in the process of shaping ones self awareness. For me, a family is a specific environment, where my first thoughts, attitudes, and points of view shaped. My family and ancestry gave me the feeling of national identity and influenced my political views. Family and ancestry taught me to consider myself as a part of collective.

In American society, like in many others, the cultural grouping is present. People form groups according to their specialization (academic, business, white collar, profession, etc.); geographical situation (Southerners, New Yorkers, Yankees, etc.); according to conditions people live under (rural or urban, farms, small towns or cities); according to their gender (female, male, heterosexual, homosexual, etc.); according to their age (teenagers, infants, young or mature adults, retired, etc.); religion (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, etc.); political ideology (liberal or conservative democracy, socialism, etc.) among others. Such form of cultural grouping as the university also shapes my sense of self and national identity on more adult level than it was with my family. Here, at the university, the conflict between individual and collective interests is even sharper and teaches me to choose my individual interests.

In general, Americans tend to see themselves as individuals. A great number of Americans would find any suggestion that they are just a part of collective rather negative. Therefore, most Americans do not want to accept the idea of sharing their thoughts and practices they consider to be unique ones to themselves. Therefore, it is important to think about how a nation of individuals, separated in their egoism, could share one common culture (of course, if it exists).

From the very beginning, American culture has been a mix of cultures. According to Larry L. Naylor (1998), Perhaps the greatest mistake one could make when considering Native American culture would be to assume that there existed only one such homogeneous culture among the indigenous peoples of North America (p. 11). Some people think that being a mix of other cultures apparently means that the United States has no culture of their own. Of course, the United States of America does not have a native culture. However, it has a culture of other type, a unique one.

Everybody knows that primarily, the culture of the United States is a Western culture that has also been influenced by Native American, Latin American, African, Polynesian, and Asian cultures among others. The United States of America has its own specific cultural and social characteristics such as social habits, dialect, cuisine, arts, music, and literature, etc. The United States of America is a racially and ethnically diverse country. It is a result of migration of large scales from many racially and ethnically different countries for the whole its history. At the same time, it is a result of differing death and birth rates among natives, immigrants, and settlers.

American culture includes religious and scientific competitiveness, both liberal and conservative elements, moral and materialist elements. In spite of some certain ideological principles (e.g. faith in democracy and freedom, individualism), American culture is a reach culture with a variety of expressions due to its demographic diversity and geographical scale. The flexibility of American culture and its highly symbolic nature made some researchers such as James McDonald categorize the U. S. culture as a mythic identity. However, the others who believe in the exceptional nature of the United States, in contrast, see it as something one of a kind.

The United States is a nation (large and socially complex), and a state form of political system is a part of its culture. American culture in every state differs from each other. It is expressed in different models of behavior, ways of life, social customs, etc. According to Larry L. Naylor (1998), America has a nation-state culture (p. 14). Groups which are incorporated into the state come with their own set of practices and beliefs that have been already learned, believed and practiced as true ones. Nation-states actually consist of people with distinct ethnic cultures or traditions that combine with others in the social context that helps constitute the complex modern society.

It is obvious that the people who share the culture in groups must survive for a culture to survive (Naylor, 1998, p. 6) In the United States, those who can be called as Native Americans have distinct cultures, heritages, and ways of life. Being distinct cultural groups, many of them continue to live according to their traditional ways of life. However, at the same time, those Native Americans were supposed to adopt many of the beliefs, practices and ways of life which were peculiar to the culture of the whole nation of the United States in order of surviving in that context. During that process, a new culture that is neither traditional nor American was created. This can be said for each and every ethnic group in the United States. However, some cultural groups simply refuse to recognize any relationship or allegiance to the nation-state, for example some Native American cultural groups. Some groups may see themselves as part of the national state, but with unique beliefs and behaviors they believe they should be allowed to continue because of a belief in the desirability of diversity, as with the Quaker or the Hutterite (Naylor, 1998, pp. 13-14). Thus, once again, we can meet an expression of American individualism.

As a nation of immigrants, the United States has been influenced by many cultures.

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American culture includes the traditions and customs of the United States, including language, food, religion, and the arts. Almost every region of the world has taken part in the process of influencing American culture through immigrants among which the English where the most notable because of their colonization of the country in the early 1600s.

Of course, as most people of the other nations in the world, Americans tend to see themselves unique and consider their culture to be better in comparison with the others. However, it is really a unique one. The United States and its culture are often described as a melting pot to which many cultures have contributed their distinct flavors. The same as different cultures from around the world have made impact on American culture, nowadays American culture influences them. Today, the term Western culture refers to both the cultures of Europe and the United States as well.

In spite of existing lack of any sense of culture in the modern world and the role it plays in the lives of ordinary Americans, such thing as American culture do really exist. It is a unique culture with its specific language, food, beliefs, customs, and the arts. American culture is a melting pot that is influencing and will continue to influence the development of the culture of the whole world. Therefore, critical thinking of American culture is very important. In addition, thinking reflectively about our own culture opens our minds to other cultures as well.

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