Each culture has what may be termed core values, which are the dominant or basic cultural values that people accept with little question. In America, although values are not always obvious or easy obvious or easy to analyze, there are major patterns that can be identified. This is not to say that American values are exclusive to the United States, or that all Americans share them. However, the American value system is appreciably different from those of some other cultures, and most Americans do subscribe to the cultural pattern described below.
The following discussion of our cultural values may seem somewhat obvious to the reader but this simply underscores the fact that Americans accept these values as given. The values to be discussed represent abstracted dominant themes which are ideal types, and thus may be subject to some exceptions.
Individualism: This value is complex and closely interrelated with such things as freedom, democracy, nationalism, and patriotism. It is founded on a belief in the dignity worth, and goodness of the individual. People have freedom that is they are independent from outside constraint. However, they are not freed from all social restraints but are to act as responsible agents. Research has shown that patriotic appeals in US advertising an be very effective s Americans exhibit a widespread positive attitude toward trade protectionism. And themes like ‘Buy American and Crafted with Pride in USA’ evoke a very favorable reaction among consumer. Made in the USA means the most to American consumers aged 45 and up; while for those under 25 it means the least. Almost 40 percent of respondents in one study did not care at all whether a product was American or foreign made. This group of young consumers is concerned more with the quality of a product than with where it is made.
The stress on individualism has been reinforced by the trend widely referred to during the 1970s as the Age of Me. The Me decade emphasized self fulfillment, self actualization, inner motivation, and focus on self and it is exemplified by such slogans as ‘I want to be me, I did it my way and I’m looking out for number one’. Some expect of collective action, societal effort and security in numbers.
Equality: Americans believe in the intrinsic equality of people, that is, that each person is a worthwhile individual (all are equal before God).everyone has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and an equal opportunity to strive for social and economic rewards.
During recent decades there has been an increasing push for social and economic equality in America. One of the most profound impacts during this period has been women’s demand for equality, which has brought about changes in the marriage relationship and the American family. The women’s liberation movement represents a value structure that has resulted in greater independence and equality of women. It has expressed in numerous ways, such as more women having careers outside the home, changing sex roles within the home, and some women opting for lifestyles other than marriage. Virginia Slims cigarettes has in a series of ads, successfully related to this equality movement.
Activity: Our culture stresses activity especially work, as a predominant value. This derives from the Puritan or Protestant ethic which stressed that idleness was evil. An individual was expected to work hard, save money and be thrifty. Thus, work was conceived as a means of religious discipline.