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“American way of life”

The American way of life is an expression that refers to the
«lifestyle» of people living in the United States. It is an example of a
behavioral modality, developed during the 20th century. It refers to an
nationalist ethos that purports to adhere to principles of «life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.» It has some connection to the
concept of American exceptionalism.

The culture of the United States is a Western culture, and has been
developing since long before the United States became a country. Its
chief early influence was British culture, due to colonial ties with the
British that spread the English language, legal system and other
cultural inheritances. Other important influences came from other parts
of Europe, especially countries from which large numbers immigrated such
as Ireland, Germany, Poland, and Italy; the Native American peoples;
Africa, especially the western part, from which came the ancestors of
most African Americans; and young groups of immigrants. American culture
also has shared influence on the cultures of its neighbors in the New
World.

The United States has traditionally been known as a melting pot, but
recent academic opinion is tending towards cultural diversity, pluralism
and the image of a salad bowl rather than a melting pot.

Due to the extent of American culture there are many integrated but
unique subcultures within the United States. The culutral affliations an
individual in the United States may have commonly depend on social
class, political orientation and a multitude of demogrpahic
charateristics such as race, ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation. The
strongest influences on American culture came from northern European
cultures, most prominently from Germany, Ireland and England. [2] It is,
however, paramount to remember that there are great differences within
American culutre which should therefore under no circumstance be seen as
one large homogenous subject.

The American state of California (especially the Hollywood region) is
home to a thriving motion picture industry, with prominent film studios
such as Warner Brothers, Paramount, and MGM creating dozens of
multi-million dollar films every year that are enjoyed around the world.
American actors are often among the world’s most popular and easily
identified celebrities. It’s worth noting that Hollywood also tends to
attract many immigrant actors and directors from around the world, many
of whom, such as actor Russell Crowe or director Ang Lee become just as
famous and successful as American-born stars.

The United States was a leading pioneer of T.V. as an entertainment
medium, and the tradition remains strong to this day. Many American
television sitcoms dramas game shows and reality shows remain very
popular both in the US and abroad. Animation is a popular US
entertainment medium as well, both on the large and small screen. The
characters created by Walt Disney and Warner Brothers animation studios
remain very popular. In music, the United States has pioneered many
distinct genres, such as country and western, jazz, rock music, hip hop
and gospel. African-American cultural influences play a particularly
prominent role in many of these traditions.

More than 97 percent of all the land of the United States is classified
as rural. But much of the rural land is uninhabited or only lightly
inhabited. About a fourth of all Americans live in rural areas.

Farms provide the economic basis of the nation’s rural areas. But only
about 9 percent of the country’s rural people work on farms. Many other
rural people own or work in businesses related to agriculture, such as
grain and feed stores and warehouses. Mining and related activities and
light industries also employ many rural people. Still other rural
Americans work as teachers, police officers, salesclerks, or in other
occupations. Many farmers hold other jobs for part of the year to add to
their incomes.

American farmers of today lead vastly different lives from those of
their grandparents. Machines have eliminated much backbreaking farm
work. Farmers use machines to help them plow, plant seeds, harvest
crops, and deliver their products to market. Many farms have conveyor
systems so that the farmer no longer has to shovel feed to farm animals.
Milking machines make morning and evening chores easier. In the home,
farm families may have all the comforts and conveniences of city people.
In the 1900’s, the automobile, telephone, radio, and television have
brought U.S. farm families into close contact with the rest of the
world.

The steady decline in the percentage of the country’s rural population
has slowed since 1970. Although many people continued to move away from
rural areas, others chose to move into rural towns and farm communities.
Many of the newcomers wanted to escape the overcrowding, pollution,
crime, and other problems that are part of life in urban areas and to
take advantage of benefits of country living. Rural areas have lower
crime rates and less pollution than urban areas. They are also far less
noisy and crowded.

Because of their small populations, rural communities collect less tax
revenues than urban communities do, and they generally cannot provide
the variety of services that urban areas can. For example, rural
communities have cultural and recreational facilities that are more
limited than those available in urban areas. For many rural Americans,
social life centers around family gatherings, church and school
activities, special interest clubs, and such events as state and county
fairs.

Rural areas generally have less diversified economies than urban areas.
Because there are fewer and a smaller variety of jobs to choose from,
rural communities may experience more widespread economic hardships than
urban communities. A single economic downturn—a drop in farm prices, for
example, or the closing of a mine—can cause economic hardship for an
entire rural area.

The nation’s rural areas, like its urban areas, have wealthy, middle
class, and poor people. For the most part, however, the gaps between
economic classes are not as large in rural areas as in urban areas. Most
rural Americans live in single-family houses. The majority of the houses
are comfortable and in good condition. But some people, including many
who live in parts of Appalachia—in the eastern United States—and other
pockets of rural poverty, have run-down houses and enjoy few luxuries.

Religion plays an important role in the lives of millions of Americans.
The country’s churches provide people with moral guidance and places for
worship. Many churches also serve as centers for social gatherings, such
as a church picnic, above.

Religion. About 60 per cent of all the American people are members of an
organized religious group. Among them, about 52 per cent are
Protestants, 38 per cent Roman Catholics, 4 per cent jews, 3 per cent
Mormons, and 3 per cent are members of Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Relatively small numbers of Americans belong to other faiths, such as
Islam and Buddhism. Roman Catholics make up the largest single religious
denomination in the United States. About 56 million Americans are Roman
Catholics. The country’s largest Protestant groups are, in order of
size, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, and Presbyterians.

Religion has played an important role in the history of the United
States. Many people came to the American Colonies to escape religious
persecution in other lands. The early colonists included Puritans in New
England, Roman Catholics in Maryland, and Quakers in Pennsylvania. The
early Americans made religious freedom one of the country’s basic laws.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which was
adopted in 1791, guarantees every American freedom of religion. It also
provides that no religious group be given official recognition as a
state church. These provisions were intended to prevent persecution of
religious minorities and the favoring of one church over another.
Religious freedom was one of the reasons immigrants continued to flock
to the United States through the years.

Although all religious groups in the United States enjoy freedom,
Christian traditions have had a stronger influence on American life than
those of any other faith. For example, most offices, factories, and
other places of employment are closed on Sunday, the Sabbath of most
Christians. The influence of Christianity results from the fact that a
majority of the people are Christians.

Throughout the country’s history, religion has influenced everyday life
in a number of ways. For example, in colonial America many religious
rules were enforced by local governments (see Colonial life in America
[The church]). Some of the laws that prohibited activities on Sunday
still exist (see Sunday).

І groups take active roles in discussing such issues as birtlh control
and rights for minorities and women.

Historically, the United States’ religious tradition has been dominated
by Protestant Christianity, but this tradition coexists in a public
sphere where religious plurality and secularism are the norm. For
example, the United States Constitution enshrined individual freedom of
religious practice, which courts have since interpreted to mean that the
government is a secular institution, an idea called «reparation of
church and state».

According to the same study, the major Christian denominations (making
up the vast majority of faiths actively practiced in the United States)
are (in order): Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran,
Presbyterian, Pentecostal (aka Charismatic or Evangelical),
Episcopalian, Latter-Day Saints, Church of Christ, and Congregational.

According to other studies, as reported by the Statistical Abstract of
the United States, Americans’ self-reported religious affiliations are
56% Protestant, 27% Roman Catholic, 2% Judaism, 1% Orthodox
Christianity, 1% Mormon faith, 5% «other specific» religion, and 8%
«other» or «did not designate.» Some 68% of Americans are members of a
place of worship, and 44% attend that place of worship regularly.

Most people commute to work using automobiles rather than mass transit
(the New York Metropolitan Area is a notable exception); the effect of
the automobile on the United States and its prominence in American life
cannot be overestimated. Most jobs are based on a 40-hour work week;
typically five days (Monday through Friday), eight hours per day. By
law, after 40 hours, employers must pay overtime which is 150% their
normal wage, although many workers are exempt, including almost all who
work for a biweekly salary instead of an hourly wage. On holidays, some
companies pay double.

The United States has minimum wage laws requiring a minimum wage for
many employees, though a number of employment sectors are excluded.
Minimum wage differs from state to state; some states have higher
minimum wages than the wage mandated by the federal government.

According to equal opportunity labor laws, employers are not allowed to
discriminate based on race, gender, religion, political convictions,
family situation, marital or parental status. In addition, applicants
need not provide photos or personal information on these topics, however
drug tests and criminal background checks are sometimes required.
Employees must pay federal and state income tax to the government. In
most cases, employees are not allowed to attend work after drinking
alcohol or to drink alcohol during work. Exceptions include some
restaurant jobs, bars and business meetings.

Vacations are usually two weeks, but unlike in most developed countries,
there is no legal minimum. Other company benefits may include sick days
and/or personal days. The common retirement age is roughly 65, with many
retiring either earlier or later, depending on their personal finances
and their job statisfaction. Some Americans, especially professionals
continue part-work such as teaching community college classes after
retirement. Others continue to work past 65 due to their job
statisfaction. US companies often offer benefits such as health and
dental insurance, and life insurance. In addition, the benefits can
often include the employee’s family as well. A few companies provide
various lessons for free, such as relaxation to improve their work
performance. However, most benefits are not mandated by law, and there
is a large range of wages, compensation and benefits in different types
of jobs. Generally, the most physically demanding jobs such as
construction and farm labor are the least well compensated. Compared to
most European systems, work culture in the USA seems to be much harder
for employees. For example, there is less paid vacation, paid sick days,
maternity leave and benefits for parents.

Most Americans have a great deal of lei sure time, and they spend it in
a variety of ways. They pursue hobbies, take part in sports activities,
attend sporting and cultural events, watch movies and television, listen
to music, and read books and magazines. They enjoy trips to museums,
beaches, parks, playgrounds, and zoos. They take weekend and vacation
trips, eat at restaurants, go on picnics, and entertain friends at home.
These and other activities contribute to-the richness and diversity of
American life.

Sports rank as a leading American pastime. Millions I of Americans enjoy
watching such sports events as automobile races, horse races, and
baseball, basketball, and football games—either in person or on
television. Many Americans, especially children and other young
people, play baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. People of most
ages participate in such sports as bicycle riding, boating, bowling,
fishing, golf, hiking, hunting, running, skiing, Softball, swimming, and
tennis.

Motion pictures, plays, concerts, operas, and dance performances attract
large audiences in the United states. Americans find entertainment at
home, as well. About 98 per cent of all American homes have a television
set. On the average, a set is in use in each home for about seven hours
a day.

Hobbies occupy much of the leisure time of many Americans. Large numbers
of people enjoy raising bower or vegetable gardens or indoor plants.
Other popular hobbies include stamp collecting, coin collecting, and
photography. Since the mid-1900’s, interest in HP1 crafts hobbies as
needlepoint, quilting, weaving, pottery making, and woodworking has
increased

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