Chapter 1 The American context
Several historical features (e.g. war of independence from Britain 1775-83) have created 3 major cultures in the USA: 1. Ethnic culture (centred on Native-American civilizations, European colonial settlement, African-American slavery and immigration movements) 2. Political-legal culture (based on individualism, constitutionalism and respect for the law) 3. Economic & consumer driven culture (driven by corporate and individual competition which encourages profit and the consumption of goods and services)
-> Ethnic Culture
Until 1776, over half of the population came from the British Isles (US colonial settlement period). They were responsible for promoting many of the new nation’s political, social, constitutional and religious institutions. After this period and American independence from Britain, north-western Europe supplied over two-thirds of episodic US immigration. In total, some 60 million immigrants entered between 1820-2000.
Although the USA has managed to integrate its immigrants successfully there exists discrimination and intolerant nativism (discrimination towards newcomers by the existing population). Today the largest minority group is Latino.
-> Political-legal Culture
Its nature has been largely shaped by: • The central place of law and the constitution in American life • The restrictions that the constitution places upon politics • The fact that many American believe in minimal government • The need to produce consensual (widely agreed) national politics (consequence of pluralism -> the believe that people of different races, cultures etc can live together)
American politics tends to be more concerned with local, state interests than national matters. Recently political participation has decreased (low turnout voters for elections).
-> Economic Culture
The US economic and social cultures are both materialistic/practical and