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American Society

Social scientists have long debated the relative influence of individualism and community in shaping the American political culture. Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, and Tipton (1985) make the case that American nationalism is essentially Eurocentric, based in large measure upon the values and norms of the Anglo elements and groups within society and representative in many instances of the British legal and social traditions. While recognizing that this is the case, Aldon Morris (1984) suggests that in a society which promotes assimilation as a key to success, the so-called color line which separates minorities within American society and gives rise to racism and inter-ethnic conflict is an equally significant determinant of American political culture. This essay will consider the relative significance of individualism and community in American social and political culture, arguing that this culture is as Bellah, et al (1985) suggest fractionalized and conflicted with regard to the competing demands of individualism and assimilation.

Bellah, et al (1985) make the case that the normative value which has shaped American society dating back to the colonial era is individualism coupled with the requirement that Americans must make something of themselves through work and through their contributions to society. Underachievement is antithetical to this particular view while the question of what constitutes community in the view of these authors is open to debate.

Specifically, Bellah, et al (1985) maintains that there are four cultural traditions of America: utilitarian, expressive individualism, Judeo-Christianity, and Republicanism. Each of these cultural traditions represents a Eurocentric view that while not necessarily unavailable to various minority groups such as African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic communities represented by Puerto Ricans living in the U.S., is not as accessible to ...

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American Society. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:42, May 27, 2020, from