Culture of the United States  

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The Birds of America (Color lithographic plate 321) (1836) - John James Audubon
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The Birds of America (Color lithographic plate 321) (1836) - John James Audubon

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Culture of the United States is a Western culture, and has been developing since long before the United States became a country. Today the United States is a diverse and multicultural nation.

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 cultural affiliations an individual in the United States may have commonly depend on social class, political orientation and a multitude of demographic characteristics such as ancestral traditions, sex and sexual orientation. The strongest influences on American culture came from northern European cultures, most prominently from Germany, Ireland and England. There are great regional and subcultural differences, making American culture mostly heterogeneous.

Popular culture

American popular culture has expressed itself through nearly every medium, including movies, music and sports. Mickey Mouse,Britney Spears, Barbie, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Babe Ruth, Baseball, American football, Basketball, screwball comedy, G.I. Joe, jazz, the blues, Rap & Hip Hop, The Simpsons, Michael Jackson, Superman, Gone with the Wind, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jordan, Indiana Jones, Sesame Street, Catch-22—these names, genres, and phrases have joined more tangible American products in spreading across the globe.

It is worth noting that while America tends to be a net exporter of culture, it absorbs many other cultural traditions with relative ease, for example: origami, soccer, anime, and yoga.

It can be argued that this ability to easily absorb parts of other cultures and other languages is its greatest strength and helps American culture and language spread. Americans in general do not worry about protecting their "indigenous culture" (see below) but instead eagerly create and adopt new things and then change or modify to make them their own.

Exportation of popular culture

The United States is an enormous exporter of entertainment, especially television, movies and music. This readily consumable form of culture is widely and cheaply dispersed for entertainment consumers worldwide.

Many nations now have two cultures: an indigenous one and globalized/American popular culture. That said, what one society considers entertainment is not necessarily reflective of the "true culture" of its people. More popular syndicated programs cost more, so overseas entertainment purchasers often choose older programs that reflect various, and dated, stages of United States cultural development. Pop culture also tends to neglect the more mundane and/or complex elements of human life.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Culture of the United States" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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