Book Report American Cultural Patterns

This paper is a summary of chapter five of the book titled “American
Cultural Patterns”. The chapter is divided into different sub-topics
that provide discussion on various aspects of American cultural patters
in comparison to other cultural groups in different parts of the world.
The first aspect addressed in the chapter is social status where the
author argues that most Americans belong to the middle class of
egalitarian as opposed to the general views given by sociologists who
base their arguments on the basis of status obligation and class
structure. The author identifies two characteristics of the American
social relationship, which include the lack of depth and permanence and
insensitivity of Americans to social status (Stewart 84-85).
Secondly, the author discusses equality among the American society and
argues Americans consider everyone to have an irreducible value. This
means that all members of the America society have an inherent right to
be treated equally irrespective of their gifting. The author suggests
that Americans aspects of equality have been upheld by Americans who are
perceived to be at higher hierarchical levels because they take the
initiative to create an atmosphere for equality. However, the aspect of
equality presents a challenge to Americans, especially when working with
organizations owned by individuals of non-American origin. For an
instant, Americans fail to identify persons who should have high opinion
status and influence the decision making process. They also fail to
comprehend the social hierarchy entrenched within the Japanese companies
(Stewart 91-92).
Third, the author addresses the aspect of obligation and states that
Americans often avoid personal commitments and social activities that
create recurring obligations. The author identifies three
characteristics (including spontaneous customs, individuality, and
duty-free social relationships) of the American society that describe
their tendency to fear recurring obligation and reciprocity. In
addition, Americans avoid the attachment of gifting to personal meaning
to ensure that the gift does not attract reciprocity, bribe perception,
or attempt to seek for special favor. However, the Americans perception
towards social obligation varies between military and the middle-class
members of the society. Moreover, the author suggests that the minority
groups (including the African Americans and Hispanic) utilize social
affiliations to attract reciprocity (Stewart 96).
The author argues that the American style of confrontation is perfectly
opposite to other communities especially the Japanese. The Americans use
a direct approach in communication and confronting any problem to
encourage frankness. However social confrontation among Americans is
limited by two factors, which include the need to maintain surface
cordiality, political as well as social life issues that curtail
confrontation. Direct confrontation is uncommon among other social
groups (such as the Japanese) because it is perceived to portly
harshness and it is destructive (Stewart 99).
The author discusses issues of formality and informality among the
American society in contrast to the Japanese. Americans prefer
informality, which is coupled with the aspect of equality. The author
identifies different ways that Americans confront one another including
spontaneity, looking each other directly in the eye, conveying
informality, and an exchange of glances that indicate equality (Stewart
99). However, these features of informal relationship between the
American societies are attributed to few and loose social relations.
Some of these features of social relations among Americans (including a
direct look while talking) are seen as lack of respect among the
Japanese.
Americans often engage in friendships that are not deep or lasting,
which implies that Americans who are in friendship cannot have mutual
interdependence. This kind of friendship is spontaneous and is
characterized by warm feelings that are not long-lasting. This is
contrasted to the Japanese form of social relationship, which is
characterized by duty, obligation and ritualized interactions. Gender
differences play a significant role in friendship where men only
consider women as familiar, marital, or sexual partners.
Americans use personal details such as first name, biographic details,
appearance, individual acts, and choices when determining the level of
personal treatment. Personalization is also highly affected by
individualism, equality, and value for achievement. In addition,
Americans perceive themselves to be special individuals with rights to
privacy and limited access to others whiles other people are categorized
as agents of depersonalization.
Americans cooperate with other people who are pursuing similar
interests, but maintain a competitive environment. They have a
reasonable capacity to establish levels of cooperation among individuals
and groups, which assists them to achieve personal goals as well as
corporate or organizational objectives. In addition, Americans have a
high sense of urgency that pushes them to cooperate to get things
accomplished (Stewart 107).
Americans establish interpersonal links with people whom they perceive
to be instrumental or are pursuing similar goals. This means that they
are sensitive to the response given by people they relate to. Americans
assess their self esteem on the basis of how other people regard or
appreciate them. This can be expressed in the form of a smile, gland
handshake, or a slap.
Patterns of expectations play a major role during the process of
integration of American individuals in the society and helping them play
functional roles. The middle class Americans often create a separation
between work-related roles from family roles. This aspect of creating
the difference between job and personal life is also integrated in
organizational management to enhance specialization and reinforce the
suitable work behavior (Stewart 109).
Works cited
Stewart, C. and Bennett, J. American cultural patterns: A cross-cultural
perspective. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press Incorporation, 1972. Print.
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