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Essay Paper on The Aspects of American Culture

The Most Important Aspects of American Culture for Understanding American Politics

A national culture is a highly complex subject which has an impact on historical, economic and political development of a country. It is possible to say that America has a unique culture which was coined during centuries. Formation of American culture was influenced by cultural mix during the creation process, by racial inequalities and by mix of specific worldview of indigenous population and colonizers. All these features have a great influence on cultural peculiarities of American nation and caused specificity of American politics.

Many historians, philosophers and political scientists pay attention to this phenomenon and single out elements and features of American culture which influenced American politics. Lipset, Tocqueville and Greenberg argue that American culture influence the society and politics in two different ways: it shapes behaviour in a particular social setting and determines orientations in politics. In general, American national culture has a great influence on political priorities in which government tend to see the world as societies in microcosm with their own specific cultures and ways of transmitting these cultures to their members.

On the one hand, it is important to understand the concept of American Exceptionalism developed by Alexis de Tocqueville in his “Democracy of America” and further discussed by Seymour Martin Lipset in “American Exceptionalism: A double-Edge Sword.“ For both authors exceptional culture means “qualitatively different from all other countries.” Long-term social, economic, and political changes in the colonies before 1750 provided the basis for an independent nation with representative political institutions. According to Tocqueville liberty and individualism, populism, egalitarianism, and laissez-faire are the main driven forces for Democratic Republic. During the period of creation, the republican ideology became a dominant one for the colonial citizens and influenced the formation of the United States. Tocqueville marks that: “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”

American cultural Exceptionalism is manifested in historical uniqueness of national development. The concept of exceptionalism is important because there is no nation in the world which has so compex cultural mix American nation. Revolutionary years and Civil war period helps to single out driven forces of cultural development and dominant factors which caused these changes. So, if we know the causes of these events we can better understand political priorities and developemnt of the nation.

Lipset and Tocqueville underline that fact that the multiple and situational nature of modern identities is the point of departure for previous theories of national identity. Tocqueville wrote: “I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors. … I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.” He supposes that to understand American politics it is necessary to understand the causes of political and social instability during 19th century.

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