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The American National character

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Introduction

1. The basic features of the American culture

а) American national character in popular culture

б) Character of the peasants

2. The interesting parties of the American character

а) American Sexual Character

б) The other features of character

Conclusions

Literature

Introduction

American society seems to be much more informal than the British and, in
some ways, is characterized by less social distinction. Students do not
rise when a teacher enters the room. One does not always address a
person by his title, such as «Major» or «General» or «Doctor» in the
case of a holder of a Doctor of Philosophy degree. The respectful «Sir»
is not always used in the northern and western parts of the country.

However, it is best to use a person’s title when first meeting him/her,
and then allow the person to tell you how he/she wishes to be called.

They use first names when calling each other, slap on the back, joke and
are much freer in their speech, which is more slangy than the
conventional British English. You will often hear the word «Hi» (a form
of greeting among friends) used instead of the usual «Hello,» and
«Howdy» instead of «How do you do?»

Those who don’t easily show these signs of friendship are called
«snooty» or «snobbish.» In contrast, people who show such simple signs
of friendship, particularly to their own economic and social inferiors,
are praised as «regular guys,» or as «truly democratic.» As a
description of character, democratic is generally used to signify that a
person of high social or economic status acts in such a way that his or
her inferiors are not reminded of their inferiority.

Yet, in spite of all the informality, Americans, even in the way they
address each other, show consciousness of social distinction. For
example, one is likely to use somewhat more formal language when talking
to superiors. While the informal «Hello» is an acceptable greeting from
employee to employer, the employee is more apt to say «Hello, Mr.
Ferguson,» while the employer may reply «Hello, Jim.» Southerners make a
point of saying «Yes, sir,» or «Yes, Ma’am,» or «No, sir,» or «No,
Ma’am,» when talking to an older person or a person in a position of
authority. While this is good form all over the United Stales, «Yes. Mr.
Weston» or «No, Mrs. Baker» is somewhat more common in a similar
situation in the North or West.

1. The basic features of the American culture

а) American national character in popular culture

«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.

б) Character of the peasants

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 ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

а) American Sexual Character

In 1948 and 1953, the United States was rocked by events that observers
compared to the explosion of the atomic bomb: the publication of Sexual
Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female,
respectively, popularly known as the Kinsey Reports. These two massive
sex surveys, compiled by the Indiana University zoologist Alfred Kinsey
and a team of researchers, graphically presented the results of
interviews with thousands of American men and women, including
information on their age at first intercourse, number of partners,
history of premarital and extramarital sex, incidence of homosexuality
and lesbianism, and virtually every other imaginable sexual statistic.
The studies’ findings shocked experts and the public alike, as Kinsey
demonstrated that much of Americans’ sexual activity took place outside
of marriage, and that the majority of the nation’s citizens had violated
accepted moral standards as well as state and federal laws in their
pursuit of sexual pleasure.

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human
Female struck a nerve within the American public. Despite their complex
graphs and charts and abstruse scientific language, the volumes became
best-sellers and spurred unprecedented public discussion of national
sexual practices and ideologies. Praised by some experts for their
breadth, precision, and dispassionate approach to human sexuality, the
books were also the targets of virulent criticism and were widely
denounced as immoral, perverse, and damaging to the reputation of the
United States. Upon the appearance of the first volume, Kinsey was
simultaneously hailed as a liberator, denounced as a pornographer,
compared to the scientific martyrs Darwin and Copernicus, and declared a
Communist bent on destroying the American family, all themes that would
persist in discussions of his work. Public uproar over the volumes
spread well beyond the world of science, as millions of Americans
purchased and discussed them, rendering the reports’ vocabulary and
sensational findings a part of everyday knowledge. Kinsey’s statistics
on pre- and extramarital sex prompted a national forum on the state of
the nation’s morals and marriages, and his findings on the extent of
same-sex sexual behaviors spearheaded debate about homosexuality in the
United States. Omnipresent in postwar mass culture, the volumes featured
centrally in discussions of virtually every topic imaginable, as
references to the reports abounded in postwar political coverage, social
science and medical writing, general-interest journalism, and even
fiction.

The first key term, American, alludes to the centrality of nationalism,
nation building, and national identity to postwar culture. A recent
resurgence of interest in nationalism has encouraged scholars to focus
less on traditionally defined political processes than on the social and
cultural processes that shaped changing conceptions of national
identity. In the introduction to a 1996 collection of essays on
nationalism, the historian Geoff Eley and the political scientist Ronald
Suny note that, «if politics is the ground upon which the category of
the nation was first proposed, culture was the terrain where it was
elaborated,» and they observe that recent literature has interrogated
the «need to constitute nations discursively through processes of
imaginative ideological labor—that is, the novelty of national culture,
its manufactured or invented character, as opposed to its deep
historical rootedness.» In Benedict Anderson’s influential model, every
nation is an «imagined community» in which citizens envision themselves
as units in a collective, «because the members of even the smallest
nation will never know their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of
them, yet in the minds of each they carry the image of communion.» It is
everyday beliefs and processes, not only spectacular events like wars,
parades, or elections, that create and reproduce national identity.
Identifying the 1950s as an era when interest in nationalism and nation
building peaked, scholars argue that between the 1940s and 1960s the
United States remade its economic, political, and social position, and
that the period was thus marked by struggles to reestablish old models
of nationhood and create new ones.

During the 1950s, the United States—at perhaps the last moment in which
many could still imagine a national public not riven by racial, class,
gender, and other differences—defined itself in relation to a
constellation of real and imaginary ideals, including both other nations
and idealized Americas of the past. New themes also spurred and shaped
postwar nation building. These included the postwar endorsement of
middle-class status for many previously excluded groups like white
ethnics and Jews; threats to the nation from the outside, such as the
rise of international Communism; and dangers from within, such as
Americans’ alleged laziness, sensuality, consumerism, or any of a host
of other characteristics. The very factors through which the nation
achieved and celebrated its postwar supremacy—possession of the atomic
bomb; an enduring democratic government in the face of fascism,
Communism, and revolutions abroad; economic prosperity; the mass
production of consumer goods; and a cultural focus on family bonds and
personal fulfillment—were double-edged swords. Nuclear knowledge made
the United States internationally powerful but also promoted widespread
fear and suspicion, and the specter of Communism prompted both
celebrations of American democracy and crippling suspicions about
internal subversion. Such paradoxes abounded in postwar culture: the
economic prosperity that funded single-family homes and supported
growing families also created new opportunities for single living, and
the consumer economy lauded by boosters was accused of promoting a
hedonism that subverted, rather than supported, national values.

The postwar era’s teachings about sex fit perfectly into this
contradictory pattern, as authorities simultaneously maintained that
sexuality had the potential to ruin families and community standards and
sought to harness its appeal for the maintenance of traditional
lifestyles. The second word of my title phrase, sexual, thus alludes to
the ways in which Americans brought sexuality into the public arena in
the decade and a half after the end of World War II, making it a
political and social topic as well as a personal one. The war changed
the sexual landscape for many Americans, as wartime economic and social
shifts promoted geographical and class mobility. War and its aftermath
furthered dialogue about which of the domestic crises associated with
war—desertion and failed marriages, promiscuity, same-sex sexual
relations, and so on—were temporary eruptions and which were here to
stay. When Kinsey’s first study appeared a few years later, it provided
vivid evidence of sexual change.

The reports, along with the host of other explorations of American
sexuality that appeared in their wake, were received not only as
collections of statistics but also as important statements about gender
difference, social change, and American identity. Topics such as the
increasingly direct depiction of sexual themes in the popular media, the
future of the nuclear family, and the importance of sexual pleasure in
marriage were also topics of heated discussion. Even more troubling to
many was «unnatural» sex, and campaigns targeting «perverts,» described
as a threat to American security interests, drummed suspected
homosexuals out of military and governmental service. As well as finding
a far higher incidence of same-sex sexual practices than many had
previously believed existed in the United States, the reports found that
sexual behaviors long believed to be the province of homosexuals,
including oral and anal sex, were in fact widely practiced by
heterosexuals. Most Americans, according to Kinsey, believed fervently
that «sexual behavior is either normal or abnormal, socially acceptable
or unacceptable, heterosexual or homosexual, and many persons do not
want to believe that there are gradations in these matters from one
extreme to the other.» The report’s statistics made these convictions
increasingly untenable, as evidence suggested that the dividing line
between heterosexual and homosexual was increasingly blurred.

The nation’s changing sexual patterns were discussed by people across
the political spectrum, including self-defined sexual liberals,
libertarians, and conservatives. In postwar debates over sexuality,
however, traditional political labels were not always reliable or
helpful. The midcentury political consensus known as cold war liberalism
was a flexible and extensive category, and in battles where the cultural
and the political merged, seemingly similar concerns could emerge from
vastly different places. Conservatives and liberals alike, for example,
at some moments worried that Americans lacked basic sexual knowledge,
and at others lamented the omnipresence of sexual information in the
mass media. Both those who identified as sexual freethinkers and those
who embraced traditionalism critiqued Americans’ alleged materialism and
consumerism and complained that the modern focus on sex threatened to
rob it of emotional meaning.

Along with a host of conservative social scientists who argued that
national and international stability depended upon an immediate
desexualization of American mores and morals, liberals like the
sociologist David Riesman deemed the national focus on sex to be a new
and particularly dangerous form of consumerism that distracted modern
Americans from their civic duties. In an assessment of the assumptions
and motives of postwar authorities who produced information on American
sexuality, an important distinction emerges between sexual pessimists,
who foresaw the decline and collapse of the nation in changes in the
sexual status quo, and idealists, who envisioned a new sexual order as
liberating and empowering. Those who believed that sexual behaviors
outside marriage were potentially dangerous generally agreed that public
attention to matters of sex was pathological, while believers in sexual
liberalism cast the same behaviors as a welcome reversal of puritan
repression. The definition of sex as a liberatory force, along with the
belief that truths about sex can be unearthed and examined, was an
important concept in the twentieth-century United States.

In the years after World War II, political and sexual respectability
were closely linked and the social and political order that many saw as
crucial to national stability was based upon deeply polarized gender
roles and a conservative deployment of sexual energy. When the liberal
sexologist Albert Ellis charged that «most Americans are sexual
fascists,» his choice of terms underlined the connections many saw
between private behavior and the nation’s moral and political character
during the cold war. So too did charges that sexual investigators, or
certain sexual acts, were un-American or Communist. Sexual deviance,
whether understood as homosexual activity, promiscuity, interracial sex,
or any other arrangement that violated the prescribed path of monogamous
sexual expression within marriage, was coupled rhetorically with
political subversion. At the same time, the marital bond and the sexual
satisfaction identified with it were viewed as cornerstones of family
happiness and national stability. The tension between these two
themes—American sexuality as a sign of cultural disintegration and
political weakness or as the locus for familial and social
cohesion—shaped postwar discourse on sexuality. Whether commentators on
American sexual character championed new forms of sexual dissent or
called for a return to traditional practices and beliefs, they shared a
firm belief that Americans’ sexual behavior could and did shape their
moral character, civic roles, and political future.

Americans had worried and written about sex before, of course, and
observers had long drawn connections between the national interest and
sexual behavior by punishing sexual expression that took place outside
marriage or between «inappropriate» partners. The social purity
movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, agitation for
marriage reform in the 1920s, and intermittent campaigns against
prostitution all defined various forms of sexual misconduct as pressing
social problems and sought to correct them through education, moral
suasion, and punishment. In her work on racial and sexual violence, the
historian Lisa Duggan argues that legal and medical discourses work to
mobilize «a specifically American version of normative national
sexuality» based on proper gender roles, whiteness, and respectability.

The specifics of what counts as «normative national sexuality» have
varied: in the early nineteenth century, class- and race-based notions
of respectability were crucial to individual reputations and community
maintenance, while more recently the AIDS crisis has rendered concepts
of health and disease central to normative sexuality. Americans after
World War II, however, outstripped earlier generations in the fervor
with which they made sexuality a legitimate topic and the extent to
which they insisted on its relevance to postwar social problems. Experts
disagreed, often vehemently, about exactly what was wrong with modern
sexuality, but virtually all commentators who addressed the subject
diagnosed grave problems with American behavior and mores. Sex surveys
since the turn of the century had focused most often on bohemian
urbanites or on marginalized groups such as prisoners, the poor, and the
«feeble-minded,» reflecting investigators’ conflicts over whether sexual
behavior could best be understood by viewing the normative or the
abnormal. Kinsey’s postwar studies, and the public debates about sex
that they fostered, instead addressed the private behavior of «average»
Americans. Nonmarital and nonreproductive sexuality had often been the
subject of moral panic, but in the postwar United States even marital
heterosexual behaviors were studied and interrogated, believed to reveal
vital information about the state of the nation.

Ideas about American sexual character in the postwar United States were
part of a powerful discourse that imagined the nation as middle class,
white, and well assimilated to the dominant culture. As postwar industry
and increased access to higher education expanded, many Americans whose
ethnic or religious identities had kept them on the margins of the
American mainstream in previous generations took on or secured
middle-class status, culturally and economically. Americans who were
working class or nonwhite, along with those who transgressed gender
boundaries or violated moral codes, served as the outsiders against whom
the expanding middle class defined themselves. With these demographic
and cultural changes in mind, I attempt throughout the book to consider
the blind spots and silences of available sources. Some of these spring
from the ways in which the postwar authorities I read compartmentalized
their discussions of American sexuality. Although these authorities
addressed a wide range of issues in their analyses of social and sexual
change, some sexual issues and experiences received relatively little
attention: incest, intergenerational sex, and rape and other forms of
sexual violence, for example, were most often framed as criminal matters
rather than incorporated into discussions of everyday adult sexuality.
Other silences in my sources stem less from postwar experts’
organization of knowledge than from their assumptions about what
narratives, categories, and people mattered. Sexual literature
facilitated some viewpoints more than others, and authors were
predominantly male, overwhelmingly white, and drawn primarily from elite
groups like scientists, cultural critics, educators, and journalists.
Virtually all of them also had to negotiate issues of respectability and
prurience, positioning their work as sober fact, lurid sensationalism,
and every combination in between. In interrogating their work, I have
tried to consider the multiple roles of and silences about class,
racial, and other differences in postwar literature on national
character and sexuality, along with the ways in which these authors’
analyses were shaped by the subjects they chose and audiences they
anticipated.

б) The other features of character

John F. Kennedy: Cuban Missile Crisis Address to the Nation said: “We
are also true to our word. Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be
to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any othey country,
and to secure their withdrawal or elimination.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The Four Freedoms said about them, Americans:
“As a nation we may take pride in the fact, that we are soft-hearted;
but we cannot afford to be soft-headed. We must always be wary of those
who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach “ism” of
appeasement. We must especially beware of that small group of selfish
man who would clip the wings of the Americans eagle in order to feather
their own nests.”

William Jefferson Clinton said: “If ever we needed evidence of that, I
could only recall the words of Governor and Mrs. Keating: “If anybody
thinks that Americans are mostly mean and selfish, they ought to come to
Oklahoma. If anybody thinks Americans have lost the capacity for love
and caring and courage, they ought to come to Oklahoma”

“Today our nation joins with you in grief. We murn with you. We share
your hope against hope that some may still survive. We thanks all those
who worked so heroically to save lives and to solve this crime – those
here in Oklahoma and those who are all across this great land, and many
who left their own lives to come here to work hand in hand with you. We
pledge to do all we can to help you heal the injured.” As we see
Americans are very kind people, thankful.

Conclusions

Working with such work I learn a lot about Americans, about their
country, their cultury. Bat most of all it was very interesting to know
about their national character, their traditions, what do they think
about them, what do they say about them.

I mast say that United States of America is very interesting country and
people are very kindness, soft-hearted, believe God. 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. Religion
plays an important role in the lives of millions of Americans. Most
Americans have a great deal of leisure time, and they spend it in a
variety of ways.

Literature

World Book Encyclopedia U-V Volume 20.

Social institutions in the United States.

Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans.

Portrait of the USA.

Guide of American culture and customs for foreign students.

Culture, Hedonism and Lifestyle.

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