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America, By Jove: American National Character As Viewed By British Visitors 1933-1966

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Title: America, By Jove: American National Character As Viewed By British Visitors 1933-1966
Authors: Roller, John
Issue Date: 26 Sep 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: This thesis is designed to continue the study of British travel accounts concerning the United States by examining the primary sources for the period 1933-1966. The object has been twofold: (1) to try to determine the basic , underlying values which express themselves through national character, and (2) to determine the relationship of the second third of the twentieth century to the first as far as change and continuity in American character are concerned. It is important here to understand the term "American character" as it is used in this paper. "Character" refers to a system of values which underlies behavior in a given social system. There is a separate level in the social system which defines "what is" -- the cognitive level of beliefs. Values and beliefs together form the so-called “meaning synthesis" which directs actions for individuals within a particular society. A population psychologically needs both of these levels working in complementarity, defining "what is " and "why” it is. However the major concern in the study of character is the value level. Erich Fromm has described social character as "the essential nucleus of the character structure of most members of a group which has developed as the result of the basic experiences and mode of life common to that group." American character may be studied therefore as social character. The term "American" character also requires definition. One grave limitation in any study of this sort is that the pursuit of overall purpose and meaning, "the spirit of the times", necessarily ignores many sub-dominant features, or even subcultures, within a national culture. The Britons who provided the primary sources for this study generally made observations on the European-immigrant culture transplanted in America as opposed to that of the native American Indians, Afro Americans or Mexican-Americans. Keeping this in mind, and realizing that this has been the dominant view since Europeans gained ascendancy on the American continent, one can see the deficiency in studying only the values of white, European-descended Americans.
Pages/Duration: 70 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/33875
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
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