The American way of life is an
expression that refers to the "lifestyle" of people living in the
United States. It is an example of a behavioral modality, developed during the
20th century. It refers to an nationalist ethos that purports to adhere to
principles of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It has
some connection to the concept of American exceptionalism.
The culture of the United States is a Western culture,
and has been developing since long before the United States became a country.
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
Due to the extent of American culture
there are many integrated but unique subcultures within the United States. The
culutral affliations an individual in the United States may have commonly
depend on social class, political orientation and a multitude of demogrpahic
charateristics such as race, ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation. The
strongest influences on American culture came from northern European cultures,
most prominently from Germany, Ireland and England.  It is, however,
paramount to remember that there are great differences within American culutre
which should therefore under no circumstance be seen as one large homogenous
The American state of California
(especially the Hollywood region) is home to a thriving motion picture
industry, with prominent film studios such as Warner Brothers, Paramount, and
MGM creating dozens of multi-million dollar films every year that are enjoyed
around the world. American actors are often among the world's most popular and
easily identified celebrities. It's worth noting that Hollywood also tends to
attract many immigrant actors and directors from around the world, many of
whom, such as actor Russell Crowe or director Ang Lee become just as famous and
successful as American-born stars.
The United States was a leading
pioneer of T.V. as an entertainment medium, and the tradition remains strong to
this day. Many American television sitcoms dramasgame shows and reality shows remain very popular
both in the US and abroad. Animation is a popular US entertainment medium as
well, both on the largeand small screen.
The characters created by Walt Disney and Warner Brothers animation studios
remain very popular. In music, the United States has pioneered many distinct
genres, such as country and western, jazz, rock music, hip hop and gospel.
African-American cultural influences play a particularly prominent role in many
of these traditions.
More than 97 percent of all the land
of the United States is classified as rural. But much of the rural land is
uninhabited or only lightly inhabited. About a fourth of all Americans live in
Farms provide the economic basis of
the nation's rural areas. But only about 9 percent of the country's rural people
work on farms. Many other rural people own or work in businesses related to
agriculture, such as grain and feed stores and warehouses. Mining and related
activities and light industries also employ many rural people. Still other
rural Americans work as teachers, police officers, salesclerks, or in other
occupations. Many farmers hold other jobs for part of the year to add to their
American farmers of today lead vastly
different lives from those of their grandparents. Machines have eliminated
much backbreaking farm work. Farmers use machines to help them plow, plant
seeds, harvest crops, and deliver their products to market. Many farms have
conveyor systems so that the farmer no longer has to shovel feed to farm
animals. Milking machines make morning and evening chores easier. In the home,
farm families may have all the comforts and conveniences of city people. In the
1900’s, the automobile, telephone, radio, and television have brought U.S. farm
families into close contact with the rest of the world.
The steady decline in the percentage
of the country's rural population has slowed since 1970. Although manypeople continued to move away from rural areas, others
chose to move into rural towns and farm communities. Many of the newcomers
wanted to escape the overcrowding, pollution, crime, and other problems that
are part of life in urban areas and to take advantage of benefits of country
living. Rural areas have lower crime rates and less pollution than urban areas.
They are also far less noisy and crowded.
Because of their small populations,
rural communities collect less tax revenues than urban communities do, and they
generally cannot provide the variety of services that urban areas can. For
example, rural communities have cultural and recreational facilities that are
more limited than those available in urban areas. For many rural Americans,
social life centers around family gatherings, church and school activities,
special interest clubs, and such events as state and county fairs.
Rural areas generally have less
diversified economies than urban areas. Because there are fewer and a smaller
variety of jobs to choose from, rural communities may experience more
widespread economic hardships than urban communities. A single economic
downturn—a drop in farm prices, for example, or the closing of a mine—can cause
economic hardship for an entire rural area.
The nation's rural areas, like its
urban areas, have wealthy, middle class, and poor people. For the most part,
however, the gaps between economic classes are not as large in rural areas as
in urban areas. Most rural Americans live in single-family houses. The majority
of the houses are comfortable and in good condition. But some people, including
many who live in parts of Appalachia—in the eastern United States—and other
pockets of rural poverty, have run-down houses and enjoy few luxuries.
Religion plays an important role in
the lives of millions of Americans. The country's churches provide people with
moral guidance and places for worship. Many churches also serve as centers for
social gatherings, such as a church picnic, above.
Religion. About 60 per cent of all
the American people are members of an organized religious group. Among them,
about 52 per cent are Protestants, 38 per cent Roman Catholics, 4 per cent
jews, 3 per cent Mormons, and 3 per cent are members of Eastern Orthodox
Churches. Relatively small numbers of Americans belong to other faiths, such
as Islam and Buddhism. Roman Catholics make up the largest single religious
denomination in the United States. About 56 million Americans are Roman
Catholics. The country's largest Protestant groups are, in order of size,
Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, and Presbyterians.
Religion has played an important role
in the history of the United States. Many people came to the American Colonies
to escape religious persecution in other lands. The early colonists included
Puritans in New England, Roman Catholics in Maryland, and Quakers in Pennsylvania.
The early Americans made religious freedom one of the country's basic laws. The
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which was adopted in
1791, guarantees every American freedom of religion. It also provides that no
religious group be given official recognition as a state church. These
provisions were intended to prevent persecution of religious minorities and
the favoring of one church over another. Religious freedom was one of the
reasons immigrants continued to flock to the United States through the years.
Although all religious groups in the
United States enjoy freedom, Christian traditions have had a stronger influence
on American life than those of any other faith. For example, most offices,
factories, and other places of employment are closed on Sunday, the Sabbath of
most Christians. The influence of Christianity results from the fact that a
majority of the people are Christians.
Throughout the country's history,
religion has influenced everyday life in a number of ways. For example, in
colonial America many religious rules were enforcedby local
governments (see Colonial life in America [The church]). Some of the laws that
prohibited activities on Sunday still exist (see Sunday).
Today, religion has relatively less
influence in the everyday lives of most Americans. But churches and other,
religious organizations continue to play important roles in American life.
Their chief functions are to provide moral guidance and places for worship.
However, religious groups also operate many elementary and secondary schools,
colleges, universities, hospitals, and nursing homes. They provide aid for
refugees, the poor the elderly, orphans, and other persons in need. Social
gatherings are held at many churches. Some religious І groups take active roles
in discussing such issues as birtlh control and rights for minorities and
Historically, the United States'
religious tradition has been dominated by Protestant Christianity, but this
tradition coexists in a public sphere where religious plurality and secularism
are the norm. For example, the United States Constitution enshrined individual
freedom of religious practice, which courts have since interpreted to mean that
the government is a secular institution, an idea called "reparation of
church and state".
According to the same study, the
major Christian denominations (making up the vast majority of faiths actively
practiced in the United States) are (in order): Roman Catholic, Baptist,
Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal (aka Charismatic or
Evangelical), Episcopalian, Latter-Day Saints, Church of Christ, and
According to other studies, as
reported by the Statistical Abstract of the United States, Americans'
self-reported religious affiliations are 56% Protestant, 27% Roman Catholic, 2%
Judaism, 1% Orthodox Christianity, 1% Mormon faith, 5% "other
specific" religion, and 8% "other" or "did not
designate." Some 68% of Americansare members of a place of worship, and 44% attend that place of worship
Most people commute to work using
automobiles rather than mass transit (the New York Metropolitan Area is a
notable exception); the effect of the automobile on the United States and its
prominence in American life cannot be overestimated. Most jobs are based on a
40-hour work week; typically five days (Monday through Friday), eight hours per
day. By law, after 40 hours, employers must pay overtime which is 150% their
normal wage, although many workers are exempt, including almost all who work
for a biweekly salary instead of an hourly wage. On holidays, some companies
The United States has minimum wage
laws requiring a minimum wage for many employees, though a number of employment
sectors are excluded. Minimum wage differs from state to state; some states
have higher minimum wages than the wage mandated by the federal government.
According to equal opportunity labor laws, employers
are not allowed to discriminate based on race, gender, religion, political
convictions, family situation, marital or parental status. In addition,
applicants need not provide photos or personal information on these topics,
however drug tests and criminal background checks are sometimes required.
Employees must pay federal and state income tax to the government. In most
cases, employees are not allowed to attend work after drinking alcohol or to
drink alcohol during work. Exceptions include some restaurant jobs, bars and
Vacations are usually two weeks, but
unlike in most developed countries, there is no legal minimum. Other company
benefits may include sick days and/or personal days. The common retirement age
is roughly 65, with many retiring either earlier or later, depending on their
personal finances and their job statisfaction. Some Americans, especially
professionals continue part-work such as teaching community college classes
after retirement. Others continue to work past 65 due to their job
statisfaction. US companies often offer benefits such as health and dental insurance,
and life insurance. In addition, the benefits can often include the employee's
family as well. A few companies provide various lessons for free, such as
relaxation to improve their work performance. However, most benefits are not
mandated by law, and there is a large range of wages, compensation and benefits
in different types of jobs. Generally, the most physically demanding jobs such
as construction and farm labor are the least well compensated. Compared to most
European systems, work culture in the USA seems to be much harder for
employees. For example, there is less paid vacation, paid sick days, maternity
leave and benefits for parents.
Most Americans have a great deal of
lei sure time, and they spend it in a variety of ways. They pursue hobbies,
take part in sports activities, attend sporting and cultural events, watch
movies and television, listen to music, and read books and magazines. They
enjoy trips to museums, beaches, parks, playgrounds, and zoos. They take
weekend and vacation trips, eat at restaurants, go on picnics, and entertain
friends at home. These and other activities contribute to-the richness and
diversity of American life.
Sports rank as a leading American
pastime. Millions I of Americans enjoy watching such sports events as automobile
races, horse races, and baseball, basketball, and football games—either in
person or on television.Many
Americans, especially children and other youngpeople, play baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. People of most
ages participate in such sports as bicycle riding, boating, bowling, fishing,
golf, hiking, hunting, running, skiing, Softball, swimming, and tennis.
Motion pictures, plays, concerts,
operas, and dance performances attract large audiences in the United states.
Americans find entertainment at home, as well. About 98 per cent of all
American homes have a television set. On the average, a set is in use in each
home for about seven hours a day.
Hobbies occupy much of the leisure time of many
Americans. Large numbers of people enjoy raising bower or vegetable gardens or
indoor plants. Other popular hobbies include stamp collecting, coin collecting,
and photography. Since the mid-1900's, interest in HP1 crafts hobbies as
needlepoint, quilting, weaving, pottery making, and woodworking has increased.