How are American values different from values of people from other countries?How are American values different from values of people from other countries?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with brettd about the work ethic.  My travels in Western Europe have shown me two drastically different view of work.  I do find it ironic that while they show great disdain for our slavish work ethics and practices, Europeans have a great need for American tourist money--earned, of course, by working.  Americans are somehow lesser beings because we don't take a month at the coast or siestas for several hours in the afternoons. Europeans are usually considered lazy because they do those things.  It's the same with fashion, I think.  While they usually disdain our "labeled" and "branded" clothing (most prefer to keep their designers' names off the front of their clothes), those are the only things which got stolen from some of my students when their hotel room got broken into.  The local police said it was because they could easily sell branded jeans and shoes and shirts on the street.  It's really kind of a love-hate relationship, actually, as the same is also generally true of the language and music.  I've had plenty of positive experiences, of course, but these are some of my observations from traveling and talking to random people on those journeys.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A European friend of mine said there was a saying in his country that Europeans worked to live, while Americans lived to work.  This Puritan work ethic, or what it's evolved into, has worked/driven many an American to a stressful, early grave, but it a very common value to work hard.  The opposite is also true, that Americans tend to ridicule those they feel do not work very hard, either in a profession or around their home.  We see this in the public backlash against social programs in the US.

I don't know that I would argue that Americans overall are more religious or less secular than European countries, but I do think those who are religious here tend to be much more fundamentalist, and interpret the Bible and the religion strictly and literally, which I don't see in many other places.

Americans are very materialistic, and they sometimes tend to evaluate a person's success based on what he/she owns.  This is unfortunate, from my view as an American, as we are not a culture that lives within its means.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a lot of differences between American values and those of others and the exact nature of those differences varies with the country you are comparing American values to.

For example, Americans are much more religious than the people of any Western European country.  Our politicians have to talk about their religious values where the Europeans do not.  But if you compare Americans to, say, Saudis, we seem less religious.  In that case, we seem very secular because of the way our women dress, the way our government does not enforce religious law, etc.

You can also say that Americans are more individualistic and capitalistic than people in many other countries.  We are more inclined to accept inequalities in our society and less likely to want the government to intervene to fix those inequalities.

I'm sure that there are many, many more differences that you can point to, but these are a few important differences.

krishna-agrawala | Student

I am not sure what American values are different from the values of all the other countries in the world. However, I do see some clear differences between Indian culture and values as compared to American culture and values, which are clubbed in India generally clubbed with what is called "Western culture".

Two most prominent differences between Indian and Western culture relate to the value placed on family bonds and sexual freedom. In general family ties in India are much stronger as compared with western countries. This includes the value placed on the permanency of relationship between husband and wife as well as the strength of bond that exists between parent and children and between siblings. This difference is quite apparent in much lower rate of divorce and much higher rate of joint families in India, as compared to America.

There is considerable difference between Indian and western culture on the value of limiting sex within the boundaries of marriage. Indian culture appears to place significantly higher value on this as compared to western culture. This difference is very well reflected in much lower incidence of pre-marital sex in India.

A very prominent feature of Indian culture, which is perhaps no so pronounced in any other culture in the world is the importance of a male child or heir. This desire for male heir in India is closely linked to the religious belief in the need for continuity of the chain of generation of male heirs for the salvation of earlier generations.