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Course :  Global Cultures: The Virtues and Values within the self

  • Posted by : dreaminginenglish

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  • Date posted : Jan 01, 1970

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An introductory talk about the culture and values of people in the United States. Check for future videos on various aspects of American culture. SCRIPT: Alright, so do you think there is such a thing as an "American" culture? You know, we see this sort of thing when you think of Japan or Korea or other countries, you can kind of identify certain characteristics that you would say, "That's Korean", or "That's Japanese", or "That's French". But when it comes to America, there's a lot of confusion on that topic. Yeah, I think there's a distinctive American culture. But, we don't recognize it. I like to tell my students, to use the analogy, "A fish in a fish bowl does not realize that it is wet." It's surrounded by water. It doesn't recognize what "dry" is versus what "wet" is. And so we don't recognize our accents. We don't recognize our culture as compared to, maybe, something else, and... But, I do see what you mean. I know what you're driving at. America has got a cornucopia of cultures kind of mixed together in the melting pot. All of these things we are saying are good and true, but it still kind leaves with this question, you know that...is there something that we could say is consistent? I've heard it from people in other countries who say, you know, "Well America, I just can't figure out, what is American culture? Is it hamburgers and hot dogs?" I kind of tried to tally up a list of things. [Distinctively American things?] Yeah. [OK.] I mean, for example, the way people dress in this country. If you compare us to the way a lot of people dress on various occasions in Europe, people would say we're quite informal. I mean, wearing blue jeans is like the primary pants of choice. Things like American football, which distinguishes itself from what other people call "football" around the world, being soccer. That's a big one, I think, [Yeah.] yes. We stick out like a sore thumb when it comes to that. We have very little attention paid to adult soccer, whereas American football there's a great deal of attention paid to that. [Enthusiasm, right.] Enthusiasm. I don't think, more so than any other country in the world...You know, baseball is celebrated in Japan even though it was invented in America. But, it's kind of like, the whole world was watching soccer while everybody in America's watching the Super Bowl. In other countries, people do things like negotiating prices when you go to a store. Or, you know, you don't find that as commonly in America as you do in other countries. [This is true.] Or, the culture of tipping, you know, [Yes.] in a restaurant. Things like certain holidays: Memorial Day, and Halloween, being with its dress-up costumes, even though that didn't originate in the United States, it has become sort of an American phenomenon. And then, these holidays represent something distinctly American. To sum up, I think American culture can be identified on our coin, the three expressions that are found on the back of our coin. I'm borrowing this from Dennis Prager. I'm sure you've heard this, too, right? "E Pluribus Unum", "In God We Trust", and the third one? [Liberty.] Liberty! Right! Dennis Prager, I mean, he would probably make a clear distinction between culture and values. He would say something like, "The values are the things that are more permanent, relatively speaking, because they are the things that define what Americans, in general, believe...or what it is to be an American, whereas culture is always shifting. You know, tattoos as we noticed in the last decade or fifteen years, I guess, you see more and more and more people wearing them on all parts of the body that are exposed. And so, that would not be a value, but it would definitely be a cultural trend. I agree. That's an important distinction, yeah. Values are something that's a bedrock, foundational. Our values as Americans influence our culture. But I don't think culture influences our values. I think it's the other way around.

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