Chapter - One
Intercultural Communication (Summaries of Core Readings)
American values and assumptions
Gary Althen, in the essay “American Values and Assumption” has shown some of the distinct features of American values and assumptions. While dealing with these ideas, the essayist has presented the main ideas and further supports his main ideas with supporting details. He even compares and contrasts the American cultures with that of other cultures. He begins his essay with the general concept of values. According to Althen, people share certain values and assumptions from the culture where they are grown and to some extent, some values are similar and some are different to each other. Mostly, in the matter of human nature, social relation and several other aspects, all the people have similar type of assumptions. He opines that a culture can be viewed as the collection of values and assumptions. Features of American values and assumptions:
Individualism: American people have strong devotion towards individualism. They are trained from their childhood as a separate individual and they embody the concept that they are soul responsible for their destinies. The essayist has presented his personal experience of a mother who helps her three years old son to decide independently.She gives him some useful suggestions so that he could utilize his pocket money wisely (either get hotdog now or save the money now and by Orange Juice later). This story of mother and son is quite surprised for non-Americans because they don’t have any tradition of children of three to five having their own pocket money. This story is no more surprise for Americans sine they are grown up in such values. Taking the reference from Dr. Benjamin Spock’s famous book, Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, Althen says that very few Americans are raised to believe that their personal destiny is to serve their family, country and god rather children are given the feelings that they can set their aims of life according to their inclination. Most of the American adults prefer to live apart from their family members if it is economically feasible. If not, they pay their parents for their rooms and board. When Americans encounter a person from abroad who seems excessively concern about the family and parents, they feel the person is trapped or week or indecisive. The American idealized notion of individual freedom is neither dictated by government nor any external forces or agencies. But this American legitimized “individual freedom” is to be self-centered and lacking in consideration for other, especially non-Americans. The foreigners who understand the American notion of free, self-reliant individual will easily understand the following aspects of American behavior and thinking: For Americans, those are heroes who stand out from the crowed. Ex. Pilots Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, golfer Tiger Woods, Basketball player Michael Jordan Americans respect the people who become successful from his difficult situation like poverty, physical handicap. Ex. Booker T Washington, Helen Killer Many Americans do not show more respect to their parents as most people do in other part of the world. The parents fulfill their responsibilities to the children but when those children grow up they become independent. At that time, the child-parents tie may loosen or broken sometime. The phrases like “You’ll have to decide that for yourself(do for yourself what you want to be in future)”, “If you don’t look out for yourself , no one else will(no one is there to help you if you do not do anything for yourself )”, “look out for number one(try to be best, come first in the competition)”, “Be your own best friend (you are your own friend, believe on you)”, etc. are popular among Americans Competition: Americans see themselves in competition with others. They are taught to be a part of competition from their school. People who are in competition with other...
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