Does America have a culture?

WHAT IS A CULTURE?: To decide if America is a culture we need to understand what it is first.

Jenna Forss | Writer

March 3, 2023

Do Americans have culture? Some people would immediately shoot down this question claiming that our country is too young, and compared to other nations around the world, America doesn’t possess the necessary “roots” to have our own culture. On the other hand, defenders of American culture say  that the adolescence of our country is just a unique fact that does not take away from our ability to have a culture. 

Other supporters of the “no-culture” idea have theories that do not just involve timelines that make them say that American culture is not a real thing. As I mentioned earlier, it is an ambiguous concept. The majority of the United States citizens who cannot trace their ancestry back to the Native Americans immigrated here from other parts of the world. This means that all of the sub-cultures developed in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia were brought along with the people that came over to America over the past 245 years. Many of these immigrants continued to implement their cultural traditions and practices while they lived in America and plenty still do today. But since some people view these cultures as completely separate from each other and not something “made in America” they still claim they are not a part of American culture.

The first claim about the untimeliness of the formation of American culture completely discredits the indigenous people that have lived in America for centuries, who under that argument still keep their culture very much alive despite the horrid decimation of

THE MELTING POT: America is often called the Melting Pot because of its mixture of different cultures.

their people. Native Americans and the immigrants that have made America their home over the past two and half centuries included their cultures along with their physical belongings and implemented some parts of their customs into the way that Americans live to create the “melting pot” that is American culture.

The Oxford dictionary defines culture as “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or another social group.” I believe that America checks the boxes for all of these categories – and especially in the arts. We are one of the most significant cultural influences when it comes to the films in Hollywood that are spread around the world or the music industry that has gathered a global audience. Junior Claire Campbell comments “I hear about other countries enjoying our movies, artists, or other parts of our pop culture.” Other countries may have this aspect of a wider spread media influence, but America is seen as one of the main countries to have this much cultural influence when it comes to popular culture. Also, the fact that people get “culture shock” when they come to America because of our unique customs is enough to prove that we have something within our borders that is socially unique. Junior Mika Kuhne talks about “all the Tik Toks I see about exchange students visiting America, comparing the different parts of our culture to theirs.”

From the American Dream to American Football or even some greasy fast food from a drive-thru, there are certain aspects of our culture that are original to us and shape the United States’ social structure. Even though we have some unacceptable parts of history that have found their way into our culture, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate the unique  parts of America. No matter which way you define it, America undoubtedly has a culture.

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