In the article “Understanding American Worldview,” the author J. LaVelle Ingram explains the cross cultural differences between Americans and immigrants. It also informs immigrants the atypical worldview of the American country they are adopting. Hence, these set of worldviews are categorized in five dimensions.
In America, the first identified dimensions of worldview is that time focuses on the future instead of the past. Living for-the-moment and living according to the past are both perceived as inappropriate by American standards. Americans live in the future and find it crucial save money for their retirement or for their children’s education. On the other hand, some immigrants are more present oriented so they will spend money on only the most essential things they need at that moment.
The concept that humans should be able to master nature is another aspect of the worldview. This worldview suggests that we should be able to defeat diseases at all costs, thus American families will take any surgical procedures necessary in order to cure their family member from a disease. However, some immigrants view this idea much more differently. They will consider the disease a reflection of some imbalance in living so changing their way of life would be more effective or that such disease is part of their destiny. We Americans would have trouble understanding such decisions.
In the American perspective, the third identified dimension of worldview is that human nature is said to be good or mixed. The author declares that personal freedom is core value as it suggests that the society as a whole will function if you count on the individuals to live up to their best selves. The fewer constraints enforced on people the better. Some cultures, on the other had view human nature as pessimistic and selfish thus, it is considered bad. In this case, in order for people to stay on the right path they need to be monitored closely to avoid negative impulses.
Another identified dimension from Ingram’s article refers to the individual’s wishes, needs and aspirations being more important regardless of their groups or family and if needed, it is appropriate for an individual to move away to become independent. In America, since the social relations sense is individuality, college students are able to decide on their own majors, young women have the freedom to live in their own apartment, and young men who have jobs are not obligated to give money to the family. However, in several other cultures such behaviors are considered disrespectful. A personal example would be ever since I was young, everyone in my family wanted me to pursue a career in the medical field.
Once I started community college, I took a few courses pertaining Pharmacy Technology and Medical Assistant but I realized these careers did not meet my interests. It was difficult telling my family what truly interested me and they were disappointed for a while, but in the end they were supportive. In some cultures we may seem heartless or selfish for not following what our group or families instilled us, but we are simply taking care of ourselves according to the American worldview. The fifth identified dimension of worldview is that what one does or accomplishes, is more important than the way they conduct themselves.
A person’s job is highly important in determining one’s relative value in the society. Athletes and celebrities conduct themselves the way they want to because they are rich but nonetheless, they will be judged based on what they do rather than their character because of the values, ideas, and beliefs different culture hold. This article was very interesting and informative. I was able have a better grasp of the American worldview. Immigrants do not have to assimilate or reject American worldviews to live in America but instead a more effective solution is to recognize these cross cultural differences and consciously negotiate them.
Courtney from Study Moose
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