Thursday, December 18, 2008

An American Values...?

Today our class revisited the "Wisdom of Crowds" by generating another "word cloud", using the Wordle.net website. Based on what we collectively believe to be the top ten values held by most Americans, see the image below. Just an FYI: I've included the raw text in an effort to be transparent: some of the "values" had to be modified either to create more commonalities, to correct the spelling, or in order to parallel the part of speech. For example, I changed "strong" (adj) to "strength" (n). I also changed "Wal-Mart/Big=better" to "Bigness".




Here is the original (unedited) text:
Materialism reduntantism democracy wealth beauty benevolent freedom diversity family education elitist materialism capitalism reduntantism patriotism family Darwinism reduntantism loyalty equality independence freedom justice reduntantism materialism wal-mart/Big=better progression family success/hardworking elitist strong morality patriotism tradition materialism family simplicity freedom safety military individuality progression opportunity tradition materialism diversity optimism competition open-mindedness tradition advancement wealth education family strong-defense materialism safety family economic-surplus entertainment simplicity freedom power food shelter materialism patriotism competitiveness hardwork wholesomeness music promise acceptance courage freedom materialism family hardworking religion tradition democracy freedom healthiness knowledge success unity ethics freedom materialism family religion patriotism upward mobility tradition relationship safety success education materialism family religion freedom tradtion ethics opportunity saftey success happiness

Think now of Robin William's and James Henslin's lists. Now that you have thought critically about what Americans truly value, where do you stand?

9 comments:

Kate H said...

I think the difference between our list and the list that Robin William's wrote is time. Robin wrote his list of American values in 1970 we wrote ours 38 years later. There is no possible way that our two lists would be indistinguishable. The distinct difference to me was the fact that family is so major in our list but it's not even mentioned in his.I also noticed that acording to our class justice is not substantial to us.

Jillian F said...

I noticed this too. I think that he did not put family down, because back then it was so important that people didn't even think of it. There weren't all the divorces like we have now and everyone was just happy with their family. I think that they took it for granted and it didn't even cross his mind that it is one of the top ten values of the United States.

Mitchell said...

I agree that our values are always changing over time. 30 years ago,are values were somewhat different. All though we have similar ones now, they have definately changed. As far as family goes, in 1970, I think that it was assumed. Though now, I think we can still assume it even with the high divorce rate.

Mitchell said...

PS, I love this blog. I live in South Africa and really enjoy keeping up with current events using this blog. Thanks american studies, this is a progressive blog that really represents the new and creative thought circulating through the US and hopefully the world.

Boris P said...

Time has definitely redefined some of the values Americans hold dear. While in the 1970's Racism/Group superiority was still a value, we are starting to shift away from it and value diversity. In these perilous times we value our family more because of the uncertainty.

maddie hilbrant said...

I think that as the years go by, american values get sloppier and sloppier. By sloppier I mean I think people are so caught up in materialistic things and unimportant ways of life. I really agree with Kate, I think the difference between the lists is just simply time. I think that values get more skewed as technology advances and as the years pass.

Adam said...

Boris, I think it is hard to say that racism was an American value in the 70's. Certain individuals might have valued it, though it is impossible to say our country embodied racism as a whole during the 70's. Though I do agree that are values change and vary as our country does. Two major shifts in our country that I see are body image and materialsim. Today, Americans are extrmemely critical of their physical appearances. This, along with materialism are two values that I feel are growing on American citizens compared to 30 years ago.

Kimber said...

My recent trip to Coast Rica this past summer helped me critique my values. Wile in Costa Rica without a cell phone, TV, iPod, or any “material.” I found I was happy every second of every day. What did I owe this happiness to? Being with friends and just spending time together. Sharing ideas, experiences, and thoughts. When I returned home I realized how important both friends and family are to me and not the “materials” really don’t matter. In our fast paced glitzy world it is hard to stay focused on what is truly important in life.

Frettzilla said...

i agree with kimber, over winter break i had all of my family home and because of this i did not even use my ipod of cell phone instead i was bonding and building snowmen. it made me think how well people can survive without material objects. compared to 30 years ago i feel that today the top value of most americans is wealth and success. people want to do well in life and make money. people are constantly worried about losing money or if they get that bonus next week.