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Joshua McWhorter

Sociology 101
9/8/14
Paper One: Culture and Society

Paper One: Culture and Society

The subject of culture and society are difficult to understand, people devote their
entire lives to developing an effective knowledge base for even a single aspect of
culture. Here in the United States, understanding culture and society is particularly
complex, because we have one of the most diverse countries in the world. There is no
one culture, the United States is a melting pot of customs, traditions, beliefs, ethnicity
and ideologies that shift and change from not only one area of the country to another,
but from one population to another and from one group to another.
The article I chose from Livescience, American Culture: Traditions and Customs
of the United States, accurately, if not vaguely, speaks about these subjects, exploring
how the 3rd biggest country in the world, is also its most diverse. People come from all
over the world to live here, and because of this almost every language is spoken in the
United States, and almost every religion is practiced here.
Even our sense of style and the food we eat varies greatly from place to place. I
may have been raised in a pretty traditional American household, but some of my
favorite food is Thai in origin, which I would never have been exposed to if it weren't
for the immigrant influences where I lived. In a single block, the typical American
might find themselves transitioning from a khaki pants wearing, white collar
community, to an immigrant class neighborhood, dominated by agricultural laborers;
or from a commercial strip dotted with Asian based retail vendors, to a strip mall
proudly displaying the latest in teenage trends.

Paper One: Culture and Society

Culture: Traditions and Customs of the United States, also mentioned, and
accurately so, that the U.S. is the current global leader in media production. Our
movies, television, music, and other media is seen and enjoyed on a global scale, and
much of this media reflects just how diverse we are as a people. Outside of our
blockbuster productions (arguably some of the least diverse being made right now),
there is a plethora of content being produced, both online and offline, that reflects
almost every interest that can be found in American society.
This media presence has created a global sense of what American culture is.
Our media, not only here, but also abroad, has instilled a sense of unity and familiarity
that helps us self-identify, regardless of many of our differences. Hamburgers, Coca
Cola, red suited Santa Clauses, hot dogs and doggy-bags, baseball, football, 4th July
fireworks, blue jeans, guns, American patriotism, and many more things are easily
seen as staples of Americanism and American cultureI know that my upbringing
was influenced by them. Many of the cultures that settle here, do so wanting to take
part in these traditions and their influence on these customs, and on us, is apparent.
After all, it is these types of influences that are responsible for much of the traditions
we take for granted and without them we wouldn't have such a culturally rich society.

Paper One: Culture and Society

With all of our similarities as a people and the many cultural staples that have
given rise to so many nationally recognized customs, it's easy for us to overlook the
level of diversity that still exists between these constantly shifting and growing
communities. Including the wide variety of challenges that are unique to the United
States because of these elements. Many social and cultural issues that are considered
easily addressed in less diverse countriessuch as educational planning, social
programs, law, language, politics, infrastructure, and religionare enormous barriers
to our own social engineers. What might work in one locations is almost certain to fail
in another; especially if considerable efforts aren't made to understand the unique
needs of the local populationsa common pitfall in community planning.
One of the most significant of these barriers is language: the regional dialects and
cultural inflections that very from place to place. Although 90 percent of the U.S.
population speaks English, variations in the way we communicate with one another
the slang we use, body language, accents, cultural identities, attitudes, social
expectations and learned behaviorsstill represent huge barrier for communication
and cultural integration on a national level, and this affects each of our nations many
ethnic groups differently. What might seem customary to one group might be taken
offensive to another. What one hiring manager might consider proper communication
and attire, might be considered a sign of disrespect or taken as sign of immaturity in
another community. As someone that travels, I have run into issues like these myself.

Paper One: Culture and Society

All of these things come together and paint a complicated picture, so it's no
wonder that the United States struggles sometimes. Other nations can set back and
criticize us for some of the areas that we are lacking, and sometimes I agree with their
arguments and assessments, but rarely are they facing anything even remotely similar
to what United State of America is dealing with. Here, we set in a simmering cauldron
of different ideologies, and those ideologies often clash with one another, causing us
to learn and adjust course.
Ultimately, these course corrections are what pushes us forward and benefits us.
Without these challenges we would remain the same, we would retain the same
identities, the same bigotries and the same ideologies. We would stagnate not only as
a country but as a species and because of this I embrace these challenges and look
forward to the many learning experiences and many new understandings that I
develop because of them. That's what it's all about right?

Reference:
Zimmermann, K. (2013, April 22). American Culture: Traditions and Customs of the
United States. Retrieved September 9, 2014, from
http://www.livescience.com/28945-american-culture.html