A culture's values preferences of a society about what is good, fair and right. Conflict theory stress on how culture’s values differ between different groups, while functionalism stress on the shared culture’s values. For instance, an American sociologist Robert K. Merton says that the most important culture’s values in American society are wealth, power, success and prestige, but every individual does not have equal opportunities to attain these values. Talcott Parsons a Functional sociologist says that Americans share the common cultural value of the “American work ethic,” which encourages and supports hard work. Some other American sociologists have proposed a common core of American values, likes accomplishment, problem‐solving, material success, reliance on technology and science, democracy, charity, freedom, patriotism, equality and justice, responsibility, individualism and accountability.
If you intend to visit U.S., you must know something about the values that shape U.S. Americans attitudes and behaviors. It is important for you to remember that:
- American society is a mixture of a diversity of ethnic groups and cultures that have helped shape American cultural values;
- Some individuals and groups of United States have a set of unique respected values that are different from mainstream America;
- Attitudes and behavior of American people are based on their values.
Below are Some Major U.S. American Values
Informality: American lifestyle is usually casual. Students go to class in shorts and t-shirts. You may see that male instructors in universities seldom wear a tie and some may also wear blue jeans. Female instructors usually wear slacks along with comfortable shoes.
Equality: Americans have the view that everyone "is created equal" and all individuals have the same rights. There is no major discrimination between men and women. US constitution even have some laws that protect "right of equality".
Individuality: U.S. Americans develops their own goals in life as they are encouraged from very start to be independent. They not depend too much on others even their close relatives.
Privacy: Many U.S. Americans like their privacy as they have their own way of living and enjoy spending time alone. A foreigner will find U.S. American offices and homes open, but what is inside their mind is private.
Time: Time is very important for U.S. Americans. They make best use of their time. They says "Time is money" especially in the business world. It’s very important to reach "on time" for your class, for a dinner party with your host family and for an appointment.
Greetings and farewells: US American usually use short, informal and friendly greeting and farewell. Students usually greet with "hi", "how are you"? "what's up"? The rituals of farewell are brief as: "See you", "take it easy". Friendship is also casual in America, as they easily develop and end it.
Achievement & Hard Work/Play: Americans are achievement oriented and they play and work hard. Americans have competitive spirit they often compete with themselves as well as with others.
Looking to the Future and open to Change: Children in America often asked what they want to be in future? College students are often asked what they will do when after graduation; and professors usually plan what they will do after retirement.
At the end I will say that, if you are intending to visit America for studies or for any other purpose you must have some brief knowledge of above American cultural values.