The society of the United States is based on Western culture, and has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, folklore, etc. Today the United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country as a result of large-scale immigration from many different countries throughout its history.
Its chief early influences came from English and Irish settlers of colonial America. British culture, due to colonial ties with Britain that spread the English language, legal system and other cultural inheritances, had a formative influence. Other important influences came from other parts of Europe.
The United States has often been thought of as a melting pot, but recent developments tend towards cultural diversity, pluralism and the image of a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. Due to the extent of American culture there are many integrated but unique social subcultures within the United States. The cultural affiliations an individual in the United States may have commonly depend on social class, political orientation and a multitude of demographic characteristics such as religious background, occupation and ethnic group membership. The strongest influences on American culture came from northern European cultures, most prominently from Britain, Ireland, and Germany.
Though most Americans today identify themselves as middle class, American society and its culture are considerably more fragmented. Social class, generally described as a combination of educational attainment, income and occupational prestige, is one of the greatest cultural influences in America. Nearly all cultural aspects of mundane interactions and consumer behavior in the US are guided by a person's location within the country's social structure.
Distinct lifestyles, consumption patterns and values are associated with different classes. Early sociologist-economist Thorstein Veblen, for example, noted that those at the very top of the social ladder engage in conspicuous leisure as well as conspicuous consumption. Upper-middle-class persons commonly identify education and being cultured as prime values. Persons in this particular social class tend to speak in a more direct manner that projects authority, knowledge and thus credibility. They often tend to engage in the consumption of so-called mass luxuries, such as designer label clothing. A strong preference for natural materials and organic foods as well as a strong health consciousness tend to be prominent features of the upper middle class. Middle-class individuals in general value expanding one's horizon, partially because they are more educated and can afford greater leisure and travels. Working-class individuals take great pride in doing what they consider to be "real work," and keep very close-knit kin networks that serve as a safeguard against frequent economic instability.
Working-class Americans as well as many of those in the middle class may also face occupation alienation. In contrast to upper-middle-class professionals who are mostly hired to conceptualize, supervise and share their thoughts, many Americans enjoy only little autonomy or creative latitude in the workplace. As a result, white collar professionals tend to be significantly more satisfied with their work. More recently those in the center of the income strata, who may still identify as middle class, have faced increasing economic insecurity, supporting the idea of a working-class majority.
Political behavior is affected by class; more affluent individuals are more likely to vote, and education and income affect whether individuals tend to vote for the Democratic or Republican party. Income also had a significant impact on health as those with higher incomes had better access to health care facilities, higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality rate and increased health consciousness.
In the United States occupation is one of the prime factors of social class and is closely linked to an individual's identity. The average work week in the US for those employed full-time was 42.9 hours long with 30% of the population working more than 40 hours a week. Many of those in the top two earning quintiles often worked more than 50 hours a week. The Average American worker earned $16.64 an hour in the first two quarters of 2006.
Overall Americans worked more than their counterparts in other developed post-industrial nations. While the average worker in Denmark enjoyed 30 days of vacation annually, the average American only had 16 annual vacation days. In 2000 the average American worked 1,978 hours per year, 500 hours more than the average German, yet 100 hours less than the average Czech. Overall the US labor force was the most productive in the world (overall, not by hour worked), largely due to its workers working more than those in any other post-industrial country (excluding South Korea). Americans generally hold working and being productive in high regard; being busy and working extensively may also serve as the means to obtain esteem.
The society in United States Race in the United States is based on physical characteristics and skin color and has played an essential part in shaping American society even before the nation's conception. Until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, racial minorities in the United States faced discrimination and social as well as economic marginalization.
Today the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of the Census recognizes four races, Native American or American Indian, African American, Asian and White (European American). According to the U.S. government, Hispanic Americans do not constitute a race, but rather an ethnic group. During the 2000 U.S. Census Whites made up 75.1% of the population with those being Hispanic or Latino constituting the nation's prevalent minority with 12.5% of the population. African Americans made up 12.3% of the total population, 3.6% were Asian American and 0.7% were Native American.
Approximately 62% of White Americans today are either wholly or partly of English, Welsh, Irish, or Scottish ancestry. Approximately 86% of White Americans are of northwestern European descent, and 14% are of southern and eastern European ancestry.
Until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865 the United States was a slave society. While the northern states had outlawed slavery in their territory in the late 18th and early 19th century their industrial economies relied on the raw materials produced by slave labor. Following the Reconstruction period in the 1870s, Southern states initialized an apartheid regulated by Jim Crow laws that provided for legal segregation. Lynching occurred throughout the US until the 1930s, continuing well into the civil rights movement in the South.
Asian Americans were also marginalized during much of US history. Between 1882 and 1943 the United States government instituted the Chinese Exclusion Act which prohibited Chinese immigrants from entering the nation. During the second world war roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans, 62% of whom were U.S. citizens, were imprisoned in Japanese internment camps. Hispanic Americans also faced segregation and other types of discrimination; they were regularly subject to second class citizen status, in practice if not by law.
Largely as a result of being de jure or de facto excluded and marginalized from so-called mainstream society, racial minorities in the United States developed their own unique sub-cultures. During the 1920s for example, Harlem, New York became home to the Harlem Renaissance. Music styles such as Jazz, Blues and Rap, Rock and roll as well as numerous folk-songs such as Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) originated within the realms of African American culture. Chinatowns can be found in many cities across the nation and Asian cuisine has become a common staple in America.
The Mexican community has also had a dramatic impact on American culture. Today, Catholics are the largest religious denomination in the United States and out-number Protestants in the South-west and California. Mariachi music and Mexican cuisine are commonly found throughout the Southwest, with some Latin dishes of Mexican origin, such burritos and tacos found anywhere in the nation. Economic discrepancies and de facto segregation, however, continue and is a prominent feature of mundane life in the United States.
While Asian Americans have prospered and have a median household income and educational attainment exceeding that of Whites, the same cannot be said for the other races. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have considerably lower income and education than do White Americans. In 2005 the median household income of Whites was 62.5% higher than that of African American, nearly one-quarter of whom live below the poverty line. Furthermore, 46.9% of homicide victims in the United States are African American indicating the many severe socio-economic problems African Americans and minorities in general continue to face in the twenty-first century.
Some aspects of American culture codify racism. For example, the prevailing idea in American culture, perpetuated by the media, has been that black features are less attractive or desirable than white features. The idea that blackness was ugly was highly damaging to the psyche of African Americans, manifesting itself as internalized racism. The Black is beautiful cultural movement sought to dispel this notion.
In the years after the September 11th terrorist attacks, discrimination against Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. has increased significantly. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) reported an increase in hate speech, cases of airline discrimination, hate crimes, police misconduct and racial profiling. The USA Patriot Act, signed into effect by President Bush on October 26, 2001, has also raised concerns for violating civil liberties. Section 412 of the act provides the government with "sweeping new powers to detain immigrants and other foreign nationals indefinitely with little or no due process at the discretion of the Attorney General." Other sections also allow the government to conduct secret searches, seizures and surveillance, and to freely interpret the definition of 'terrorist activities'.
As the United States is a diverse nation, it is home to numerous organization and social groups and individuals may derive their group affiliated identity from a variety of sources. Many Americans, especially white collar professionals belong to professional organizations such as the APA, ASA or ATFLC, although books like Bowling Alone indicate that Americans affiliate with these sorts of groups less often than they did in the 1950s and 1960s.
Today, Americans derive a great deal of their identity through their work and professional affiliation, especially among individuals higher on the economic ladder. Recently professional identification has led to many clerical and low-level employees giving their occupations new, more respectable titles, such as "Sanitation service engineer" instead of "Janitor."
Additionally many Americans belong to non-profit organizations and religious establishments and may volunteer their services to such organizations. The Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus or even the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are examples of such non-profit and mostly volunteer run organizations. Ethnicity plays another important role in providing some Americans with group identity, especially among those who recently immigrated.
Many American cities are home to ethnic enclaves such as a Chinatown and Little Italies which still remain in some cities. Local patriotism may be also provide group identity. For example, a person may be particularly proud to be from California or New York City, and may display clothing from a local sports team.
Political lobbies such as the AARP, ADL, NAACP, NOW and GLAAD (examples being civil rights activist organizations) not only provide individuals with a sentiment of intra-group allegiance but also increase their political representation in the nation's political system. Combined, profession, ethnicity, religious, and other group affiliations have provided Americans with a multitude of options to derive group based identity from.
Americans, by and large, are often fascinated by new technology and new gadgets. There are many within the United States that share the attitude that through technology, many of the evils in the society can be solved. Many of the new technological innovations in the modern world were either first invented in the United States and/or first widely adopted by Americans. Examples include: the lightbulb, the airplane, the transistor, nuclear power, the personal computer, video games and online shopping, as well as the development of the Internet. By comparison with Japan, however, only a small fraction of electronic devices make it to sale in the US, and household items such as toilets are rarely festooned with remotes and electronic buttons as they are in some parts of Asia.
Automobiles play a great role in American culture, whether it is in the mundane lives of private individuals or in the areas of arts and entertainment. The rise of suburbs and the desire for workers to commute to cities brought about the popularization of automobiles. In 2001, 90% of Americans drove to work in cars. Lower energy and land costs favor the production of relatively large, powerful cars. The culture in the 1950s and 1960s often catered to the automobile with motels and drive-in restaurants. Americans tend to view obtaining a driver's license as a rite of passage. Outside of a relative few urban areas, it is considered a necessity for most Americans to own and drive cars. New York City is the only locality in the United States where more than half of all households do not own a car.
American attitudes towards drugs and alcoholic beverages have evolved considerably throughout the country's history. During the nineteenth century, alcohol was readily available and consumed, and no laws restricted the use of other drugs. A movement to ban alcoholic beverages, called the Prohibition movement, emerged in the late-nineteenth century. Several American Protestant religious groups, as well as women's groups such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union, supported the movement.
In 1919, Prohibitionists succeeded in amending the Constitution to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Although the Prohibition period did result in lowering alcohol consumption overall, banning alcohol outright proved to be unworkable, as the previously legitimate distillery industry was replaced by criminal gangs which trafficked in alcohol. Prohibition was repealed in 1931. States and localities retained the right to remain "dry", and to this day, a handful still do.
During the Vietnam War era, attitudes swung well away from prohibition. Commentators noted that an eighteen-year-old could be drafted into the military to fight in a war overseas, but could not buy a beer. Most states lowered the legal drinking age to eighteen.
Since 1980, the trend has been toward greater restrictions on alcohol and drug use. The focus this time, however, has been to criminalize behaviors associated with alcohol, rather than attempt to prohibit consumption outright. New York was the first state to enact tough drink-driving laws in 1980; since then all other states have followed suit. A "Just Say No to Drugs" movement replaced the more libertine ethos of the 1960s.
Since the late nineteenth century, baseball is regarded as the national sport; football, basketball, and ice hockey are the country's three other leading professional team sports. College football and basketball also attract large audiences. Football is now by several measures the most popular spectator sport in the United States. Soccer, though not a leading professional sport in the country, is played widely at the youth and amateur levels.
The cuisine of the United States is extremely diverse, owing to the vastness of the continent, the relatively large population (1/3 of a billion people) and the number of native and immigrant influences. The types of food served at home vary greatly and depend upon the region of the country and the family's own cultural heritage. Recent immigrants tend to eat food similar to that of their country of origin, and Americanized versions of these cultural foods, such as American Chinese cuisine or Italian-American cuisine often eventually appear; an example is Vietnamese cuisine, Korean cuisine and Thai cuisine.
German cuisine has a profound impact on American cuisine, especially mid-western cuisine, with potatoes, noodles, roasts, stews and cakes/pastries being the most iconic ingredients in both cuisines. Dishes such as the hamburger, pot roast, baked ham and hot dogs are examples of American dishes derived from German cuisine.
Different regions of the United States have their own cuisine and styles of cooking. The state of Louisiana, for example, is known for its Cajun and Creole cooking. Cajun and Creole cooking are influenced by French, Acadian, and Haitian cooking, although the dishes themselves are original and unique. Examples include Crawfish Etouffee, Red Beans and Rice, Seafood or Chicken Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Boudin. Italian, German, Hungarian and Chinese influences, traditional Native American, Caribbean, Mexican and Greek dishes have also diffused into the general American repertoire. It is not uncommon for a 'middle-class' family from 'middle-America' to eat, for example, restaurant pizza, home-made pizza, enchiladas con carne, chicken paprikas, beef stroganof and bratwurst with sauerkraut for dinner throughout a single week.
Apart from professional business attire, clothing in the United States is eclectic and predominantly informal. While Americans' diverse cultural roots are reflected in their clothing, particularly those of recent immigrants, cowboy hats and boots and leather motorcycle jackets are emblematic of specifically American styles.
Blue jeans were popularized as work clothes in the 1850s by merchant Levi Strauss, a Jewish-German immigrant in San Francisco, and adopted by many American teenagers a century later. They are now widely worn on every continent by people of all ages and social classes. Along with mass-marketed informal wear in general, blue jeans are arguably U.S. culture's primary contribution to global fashion. The country is also home to the headquarters of many leading designer labels such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Labels such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Eckō Unltd. cater to various niche markets.
Education in the United States is provided mainly by government, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. School attendance is mandatory and nearly universal at the elementary and high school levels (often known outside the United States as the primary and secondary levels).
Students have the options of having their education held in public schools, private schools, or home school. In most public and private schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, junior high school (also often called middle school), and high school. In almost all schools at these levels, children are divided by age groups into grades. Post-secondary education, better known as "college" or "university" in the United States, is generally governed separately from the elementary and high school system.
In the year 2000, there were 76.6 million students enrolled in schools from kindergarten through graduate schools. Of these, 72 percent aged 12 to 17 were judged academically "on track" for their age (enrolled in school at or above grade level). Of those enrolled in compulsory education, 5.2 million (10.4 percent) were attending private schools. Among the country's adult population, over 85 percent have completed high school and 27 percent have received a bachelor's degree or higher.
The primary, although not official, language of the United States is English. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, more than 93% of Americans can speak English well, and for 81% it is the only language spoken at home. Nearly 30 million native speakers of Spanish also reside in the US. There are more than 300 languages besides English which can claim native speakers in the United States—some of which are spoken by the indigenous peoples (about 150 living languages) and others which were imported by immigrants.
American Sign Language, used mainly by the deaf, is also native to the country. Hawaiian is also a language native to the United States, as it is indigenous nowhere else except in the state of Hawaii. Spanish is the second most common language in the United States, and is one of the official languages, and the most widely spoken, in the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
There are four major regional dialects in the United States: northeastern, south, inland north, and midwestern. The Midwestern accent (considered the "standard accent" in the United States, and analogous in some respects to the received pronunciation elsewhere in the English-speaking world) extends from what were once the "Middle Colonies" across the Midwest to the Pacific states.
Historically, the United States' religious tradition has been dominated by Protestant Christianity. Today over three quarters of Americans identify as Christian with a slight majority identifying as Protestant (56%). Catholicism (27%) is the largest Christian denomination, as Protestants belong to a variety of denominations. Also practiced in the United States are many other religions, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism and neo-pagan religions, (most prominently Wicca) among others. Approximately 16% of American citizens identify as atheist, agnostic, or having no religion.
The government is a secular institution, with what is often called the "separation of church and state" prevailing.
Immediately after World War II, Americans began living in increasing numbers in the suburbs, belts around major cities with higher density than rural areas, but much lower than urban areas. This move has been attributed to many factors such as the automobile, the availability of large tracts of land, the convenience of more and longer paved roads, the increasing violence in urban centers (see white flight), and cheaper housing. These new single-family houses were usually one or two stories tall, and often were part of large contracts of homes built by a single developer.
The resulting low-density development has been given the pejorative label urban sprawl. This is changing, however. White flight is reversing, with many Yuppies and upper-middle-class, empty nest Baby Boomers returning to urban living, usually in condominia, such as in New York City's Lower East Side, and Chicago's South Loop. The result has been the displacement of many poorer, inner-city residents. (see gentrification).
American cities with housing prices near the national median have also been losing the middle income neighborhoods, those with median income between 80% and 120% of the metropolitan area's median household income. Here, the more affluent members of the middle-class, who are also often referred to as being professional or upper middle-class, have left in search of larger homes in more exclusive suburbs. This trend is largely attributed to the so-called "Middle class squeeze", which has caused a starker distinction between the statistical middle class and the more privileged members of the middle class. In more expensive areas such as California, however, another trend has been taking place where an influx of more affluent middle-class households has displaced those in the actual middle of society and converted former middle-middle-class neighborhoods into upper-middle-class neighborhoods.
The population of rural areas has been declining over time as more and more people migrate to cities for work and entertainment. The great exodus from the farms came in the 1940s; in recent years fewer than 2% of the population lives on farms (though many others live in the countryside and commute to work). Electricity and telephone, and sometimes cable and Internet services are available to all but the most remote regions. As in the cities, children attend school up to and including high school and only help with farming during the summer months or after school.
About half of Americans now live in what is known as the suburbs. The suburban nuclear family has been identified as part of the "American dream": a married couple with children owning a house in the suburbs. This archetype is reinforced by mass media, religious practices, and government policies and is based on traditions from Anglo-Saxon cultures. One of the biggest differences in suburban living as compared to urban living is the housing occupied by the families. The suburbs are filled with single-family homes separated from retail districts, industrial areas, and sometimes even public schools. However, many American suburbs are incorporating these districts on smaller scales, attracting more people to these communities.
Housing in urban areas may include more apartments and semi-attached homes than in the suburbs or small towns. Aside from housing, the major difference from suburban living is the density and diversity of many different subcultures, as well as retail and manufacturing buildings mixed with housing in urban areas. Urban residents are also more likely to travel by mass transit, and children are more likely to walk or cycle rather than being driven by their parents.
Couples often meet through religious institutions, work, school, or friends. "Dating services," services that are geared to assist people in finding partners, are popular both on and offline. The trend over the past few decades has been for more and more couples deciding to cohabit before, or instead of, getting married. The 2000 Census reported 9,700,000 opposite-sex partners living together and about 1,300,000 same-sex partners living together. These cohabitation arrangements have not been the subject of many laws regulating them, though some states now have domestic partner statutes and judge-made palimony doctrines that confer some legal support for unmarried couples.
Adolescent sex is common; most Americans first have sexual intercourse in their teenage years. The current data suggests that by the time a person turns eighteen years old, slightly more than half of females and nearly two-thirds of males will have had sexual relations. More than half of sexually active teens have had sexual partners they are dating. Risky sexual behaviors that involve "anything intercourse related" are "rampant" among teenagers. Teenage pregnancies in the United States decreased 28% between 1990-2000 from 117 pregnancies per every 1,000 teens to 84 per 1,000. The United States is rated, based on 2002 estimates, 84 out of 170 countries based on teenage fertility rate, according to the World Health Organization.
In many states, it is illegal to cross state lines to obtain a marriage that would be illegal in the home state. The typical wedding involves a couple proclaiming their commitment to one another in front of their close relatives and friends, often presided over by a religious figure such as a minister, priest, or rabbi, depending upon the faith of the couple. In traditional Christian ceremonies, the bride's father will "give away" (hand off) the bride to the groom. Secular weddings are also common, often presided over by a judge, Justice of the Peace, or other municipal official.
Divorce is the province of state governments, so divorce law varies from state to state. Prior to the 1970s, divorcing spouses had to prove that the other spouse was at fault, for instance for being guilty of adultery, abandonment, or cruelty; when spouses simply could not get along, lawyers were forced to manufacture "uncontested" divorces. The no-fault divorce revolution began in 1969 in California and ended with New York. No-fault divorce (on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences", "irretrievable breakdown of marriage", "incompatibility", or after a separation period etc.) is now available in all states.
As with other Western countries, the United States has now a substantial proportion of children born outside of marriage: in 2010, 40.7% of all births were to unmarried women.
State law provides for child support where children are involved, and sometimes for alimony. "Married adults now divorce two-and-a-half times as often as adults did 20 years ago and four times as often as they did 50 years ago... between 40% and 60% of new marriages will eventually end in divorce. The probability within... the first five years is 20%, and the probability of its ending within the first 10 years is 33%... Perhaps 25% of children ages sixteen and under live with a step-parent." The median length for a marriage in the US today is eleven years with 90% of all divorces being settled out of court.
Since the 1970s, traditional gender roles of male and female have been increasingly challenged by both legal and social means. Today, there are far fewer roles that are legally restricted by one's sex.
Most social roles are not gender-restricted by law, though there are still cultural inhibitions surrounding certain roles. More and more women have entered the workplace, and in the year 2000, made up 46.6% of the labor force; up from 18.3% in 1900. Most men, however, have not taken up the traditional full-time homemaker role; likewise, few men have taken traditionally feminine jobs such as receptionist or nurse (although nursing was traditionally a male role prior to the American Civil War).
It is customary for Americans to hold a wake in a funeral home within a couple days of the death of a loved one. The body of the deceased may be embalmed and dressed in fine clothing if there will be an open-casket viewing. Traditional Jewish and Muslim practice include a ritual bath and no embalming. Friends, relatives and acquaintances gather, often from distant parts of the country, to "pay their last respects" to the deceased. Flowers are brought to the coffin and sometimes eulogies, elegies, personal anecdotes or group prayers are recited. Otherwise, the attendees sit, stand or kneel in quiet contemplation or prayer. Kissing the corpse on the forehead is typical among Italian Americans and others. Condolences are also offered to the widow or widower and other close relatives.
A funeral may be held immediately afterwards or the next day. The funeral ceremony varies according to religion and culture. American Catholics typically hold a funeral mass in a church, which sometimes takes the form of a Requiem mass. Jewish Americans may hold a service in a synagogue or temple. Pallbearers carry the coffin of the deceased to the hearse, which then proceeds in a procession to the place of final repose, usually a cemetery. The unique Jazz funeral of New Orleans features joyous and raucous music and dancing during the procession.
Mount Auburn Cemetery (founded in 1831) is known as "America's first garden cemetery." American cemeteries created since are distinctive for their park-like setting. Rows of graves are covered by lawns and are interspersed with trees and flowers. Headstones, mausoleums, statuary or simple plaques typically mark off the individual graves. Cremation is another common practice in the United States, though it is frowned upon by various religions. The ashes of the deceased are usually placed in an urn, which may be kept in a private house, or they are interred. Sometimes the ashes are released into the atmosphere. The "sprinkling" or "scattering" of the ashes may be part of an informal ceremony, often taking place at a scenic natural feature (a cliff, lake or mountain) that was favored by the deceased.
A so-called death industry has developed in the United States that has replaced earlier, more informal traditions. Before the popularity of funeral homes, a wake would be held in an ordinary, private house. Often the most elegant room was reserved for this purpose.
Today, family arrangements in the United States reflect the diverse and dynamic nature of contemporary American society. Although for a relatively brief period of time in the 20th century most families adhered to the nuclear family concept (two-married adults with a biological child), single-parent families, childless/childfree couples, and fused families now constitute the majority of families.
Most Americans will marry and get divorced at least once during their life; thus, most individuals will live in a variety of family arrangements. A person may grow up in a single-parent family, go on to marry and live in childless couple arrangement, then get divorced, live as a single for a couple of years, remarry, have children and live in a nuclear family arrangement.
"The nuclear family... is the idealized version of what most people think when they think of "family..." The old definition of what a family is... the nuclear family- no longer seems adequate to cover the wide diversity of household arrangements we see today, according to many social scientists (Edwards 1991; Stacey 1996). Thus has arisen the term postmodern family, which is meant to describe the great variability in family forms, including single-parent families and child-free couples."- Brian K. Williams, Stacey C. Sawyer, Carl M. Wahlstrom, Marriages, Families & Intinamte Relationships, 2005.
Other changes to the landscape of American family arrangements include dual-income earner households and delayed independence among American youths. Whereas most families in the 1950s and 1960s relied on one income earner, more commonly the husband, the vast majority of family households now have two-income earners.
Another change is the increasing age at which young Americans leave their parental home. Traditionally, a person past "college age" who lived with their parent(s) was viewed negatively, but today it is not uncommon for children to live with their parents until their mid-twenties. This trend can be mostly attributed to rising living costs that far exceed those in decades past. Thus, many young adults now remain with their parents well past their mid-20s. This topic was a cover article of TIME magazine in 2005.
Exceptions to the custom of leaving home in one's mid-20s can occur especially among Italian and Hispanic Americans, and in expensive urban real estate markets such as New York City , California , and Honolulu , where monthly rents commonly exceed $1000 a month.
|Year||Families (69.7%)||Non-families (31.2%)|
|Married couples (52.5%)||Single Parents||Other blood relatives||Singles (25.5%)||Other non-family|
|Nuclear family||Without children||Male||Female|
Single-parent households are households consisting of a single adult (most often a woman) and one or more children. In the single-parent household, one parent typically raises the children with little to no help from the other. This parent is the sole "breadwinner" of the family and thus these households are particularly vulnerable economically. They have higher rates of poverty, and children of these households are more likely to have educational problems.
Cultural differences in the various regions of the United States are explored in New England, Mid-Atlantic States, Southern United States, Midwestern United States, Southwest United States, Western United States and Pacific Northwestern United States pages. The western coast of the continental United States consisting of California, Oregon, and the state of Washington is also sometimes referred to as the Left Coast, indicating its left-leaning political orientation and tendency towards liberal norms, folkways and values.
Strong cultural differences have a long history in the US with the southern slave society in the antebellum period serving as a prime example. Not only social, but also economic tensions between the Northern and Southern states were so severe that they eventually caused the South to declare itself an independent nation, the Confederate States of America; thus provoking the American Civil War. One example of regional variations is the attitude towards the discussion of sex, often sexual discussions would have less restrictions in the Northeastern United States, but yet is seen as taboo in the Southern United States.
In his 1989 book, Albion's Seed (ISBN 0195069056), David Hackett Fischer suggests that the United States is made up today of four distinct regional cultures. The book's focus is on the folkways of four groups of settlers from the British Isles that emigrated from distinct regions of Britain and Ireland to the British American colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fischer's thesis is that the culture and folkways of each of these groups persisted, with some modification over time, providing the basis for the four modern regional cultures of the United States.
According to Fischer, the foundation of American culture was formed from four mass migrations from four different regions of the British Isles by four distinct socio-religious groups. New England's earliest settlement period occurred between 1629-1640 when Puritans, mostly from East Anglia in England, settled there, forming the New England regional culture. The next mass migration was of southern English cavaliers and their Irish and Scottish domestic servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640-1675, producing the Southern American culture. Then, between 1675-1725, thousands of Irish, English and German Quakers, led by William Penn, settled in the Delaware Valley.
This settlement resulted in the formation of what is today considered the "General American" culture, although, according to Fischer, it is really just a regional American culture, even if it does today encompass most of the U.S. from the mid-Atlantic states to the Pacific Coast. Finally, Irish, Scottish and English settlers from the borderlands of Britain and Ireland migrated to Appalachia between 1717-1775. They formed the regional culture of the Upland South, which has since spread west to such areas as West Texas and parts of the U.S. Southwest. Fischer says that the modern U.S. is composed only of regional cultures, with characteristics determined by the place of departure and time of arrival of these four distinct founding populations.
The US is considered to have some of the most permissive gun laws among developed countries. Americans make up 4 percent of the world's population but own 46 percent of the global stock of privately held firearms. This is about 294 million guns with a population of 301 million (2007 figures), almost one gun for every American on average. In 2001–2, the United States had above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence compared to other developed nations. A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2010 showed that United States "homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher." Gun ownership rights continue to be the subject of contentious political debate.
In his dissent in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote:
In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.
In the 2013 documentary Inequality for All, Robert Reich argued that income inequality is a defining issue for the United States. He stated that 95% of post-recession economic gains went to the top 1% net worth (HNWI) since 2009, when the recovery is agreed to have started.
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In her novel The Bluest Eye (1981), Toni Morrison depicts the effects of the legacy of 19th century racism for poor black people in the United States. The novel tells of how the daughter of a poor black family, Pecola Breedlove, internalizes white standards of beauty to the point where she goes mad. Her fervent wish for blue eyes comes to stand for her wish to escape the poor, unloving, racist environment in which she lives.
Events in the year 1867 in India.AXA Equitable Holdings
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, formerly The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, also known as The Equitable, or simply AXA was founded by Henry Baldwin Hyde in 1859. In 1991, AXA, a French insurance company, acquired majority control of The Equitable. In 2004, it officially changed its name to AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company. As of 2018, the company has over 15,800 agents licensed by the State of California.A Pig's Tail
A Pig's Tail is a 2012 British-American 5-minute stop motion animated short film directed by Sarah Cox, written by Matthew Walker, produced by Jason Bartholemew, Gutleben Christine and Heather Wright and created by Aardman Animations for The Humane Society of the United States.Bonsai Kitten
Bonsai Kitten was a hoax website that claimed to provide instructions on how to grow a kitten in a jar, so as to mold the bones of the kitten into the shape of the jar as the cat grows, much like how a bonsai plant is shaped. It was made by an MIT university student going by the alias of Dr. Michael Wong Chang. The website generated furor after members of the public complained to animal rights organizations. The Michigan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) stated that "while the site's content may be faked, the issue it is campaigning for may create violence towards animals". Although the website was shut down some time ago, petitions are still circulated to shut down the site or complain to its ISP. The website has been debunked by several organizations including Snopes.com and the Humane Society of the United States.Broken World (Millennium)
"'Broken World" is the twentieth episode of the first season of the American crime-thriller television series Millennium. It premiered on the Fox network on May 2, 1997. The episode was written by Robert Moresco and Patrick Harbinson, and directed by Winrich Kolbe. "Broken World" featured guest appearances by Ingrid Kavelaars, Donnelly Rhodes and Jo Anderson.
Millennium Group consultant Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) travels to North Dakota to track down a burgeoning serial killer who has progressed from mauling horses to attacking and killing people.
"Broken World" featured the last directorial effort for the series by Kolbe, and the last script written by Moresco; however, Harbinson would return to write further episodes in later seasons. The episode has been compared to Peter Shaffer's 1973 play Equus, and received a Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States in 1998.Center for Organizational Research and Education
The Center for Organizational Research and Education (CORE), formerly the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) and prior to that the Guest Choice Network, is an American non-profit entity founded by Richard Berman that lobbies on behalf of the fast food, meat, alcohol and tobacco industries. It describes itself as "dedicated to protecting consumer choices and promoting common sense." Experts on non-profit law have questioned the validity of the group's non-profit status in The Chronicle of Philanthropy and other publications, while commentators from Rachel Maddow to Michael Pollan have treated the group as an entity that specializes in astroturfing.The organization has been critical of organizations including the Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.Cleveland Amory
Cleveland Amory (September 2, 1917 – October 14, 1998) was an American author, reporter and commentator and animal rights activist. He originally was known for writing a series of popular books poking fun at the pretensions and customs of society, starting with The Proper Bostonians in 1947. From the 1950s through the 1990s, he had a long career as a reporter and writer for national magazines, and as a television and radio commentator. In the late 1980s and 1990s, he was best known for his bestselling books about his adopted cat, Polar Bear, starting with The Cat Who Came for Christmas (1987). Amory devoted much of his life to promoting animal rights, particularly protection of animals from hunting and vivisection; the executive director of the Humane Society of the United States described Amory as "the founding father of the modern animal protection movement."Doris Day Animal League
The Doris Day Animal League is an animal advocacy group based in Washington D.C. It established the annual observance Spay Day USA in 1994, which the group uses to bring attention to the pet overpopulation problem in the United States. On September 1, 2006, the organization merged with the Humane Society of the United States.Equitable Life Building (New York City)
The Equitable Life Assurance Building was the headquarters of The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. Construction was completed on May 1, 1870, at 120 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City, and under the leadership of Henry Baldwin Hyde was the first office building to feature passenger elevators.
At a record 130 feet (40 m), it is considered by some as the world's first skyscraper. The architects were Arthur Gilman and Edward H. Kendall, with George B. Post as a consulting engineer; hydraulic elevators made by the Otis Elevator Company.Genesis Awards
The Genesis Awards are awarded annually by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to individuals in the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works which raise public awareness of animal issues. Presented by the HSUS Hollywood Outreach program, the awards show takes place every March in California. The awards have honored such well-known personalities as Michael Jackson, Aaron Sorkin, Anderson Cooper, Peter Gabriel, Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Goodall, David E. Kelley, Paul McCartney, Arthur Miller, Stephen Colbert, Oprah Winfrey, Prince, Jacques Cousteau and Ian Somerhalder, as well as journalists, film and documentary writers and producers, print and broadcast news outlets in the United States.
Honorary awards include the Sid Caesar Award for television comedy, the Doris Day Award for music, the Brigitte Bardot International Award for non-American media, and the Gretchen Wyler Award for a celebrity using their fame to bring attention to animal issues.Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), based in Washington, D.C., is an American nonprofit organization founded by journalist Fred Myers and Helen Jones, Larry Andrews, and Marcia Glaser in 1954, to address what they saw as animal-related cruelties of national scope, and to resolve animal welfare problems by applying strategies beyond the resources or abilities of local organizations. In 2013, the Chronicle of Philanthropy identified HSUS as the 136th largest charity in the United States in its Philanthropy 400 listing.
As of 2001, the group's major campaigns targeted five issues: factory farming, animal blood sports, the fur trade, puppy mills, and wildlife abuse. The organization works on a full range of animal issues, including companion animals, wildlife, farm animals, horses and other equines, and animals used in research, testing and education.HSUS reported its revenue as US$129 million and net assets of US$215 million as of December 31, 2014.HSUS pursues its global work through an affiliate, Humane Society International, which listed staff members in 17 nations for 2013. Other affiliated entities include the Doris Day Animal League, founded by the actress Doris Day, and the Fund for Animals, founded by the television and social critic Cleveland Amory. Together with its affiliate, the Fund for Animals, HSUS operates animal sanctuaries in five states.HSUS does not run local shelters or oversee local animal care and control agencies; it promotes best practices and supports such entities throughout the country with a range of services.Humane society
A humane society is a group that aims to stop animal suffering due to cruelty or other reasons. In many countries, the term is used mostly for societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA). In the United Kingdom, it may also be a society that provides a waterways rescue, prevention, and recovery service, or that gives awards for the saving of human life (see: Royal Humane Society).Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress. Because the medal is presented "in the name of Congress", it is often referred to informally as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". However, the official name of the current award is "Medal of Honor". Within the United States Code the medal is referred to as the "Medal of Honor", and less frequently as "Congressional Medal of Honor". U.S. awards, including the Medal of Honor, do not have post-nominal titles, and while there is no official abbreviation, the most common abbreviations are "MOH" and "MH".There are three versions of the medal, one each for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version. The Medal of Honor was introduced for the Navy in 1861, soon followed by an Army version in 1862. The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States armed forces.The President typically presents the Medal at a formal ceremony intended to represent the gratitude of the U.S. people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3,522 Medals of Honor awarded since the decoration's creation, with just less than half of them awarded for actions during the American Civil War.In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge.National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) is a non-profit organization based in New York City with chapters located throughout the United States. The organization funds research, advocates for social and political change, provides education, and sponsors services that help people with multiple sclerosis and their families.
The NMSS was founded as the Association for Advancement of Research on Multiple Sclerosis, in 1946. Since that time it has become a national, multi-chapter, non-profit organization. It has been rated by Forbes magazine as #63 in the 100 Largest U.S. Charities 2016 Ranking.National Sculpture Society
Founded in 1893, the National Sculpture Society (NSS) was the first organization of professional sculptors formed in the United States. The purpose of the organization was to promote the welfare of American sculptors, although its founding members included several renowned architects. The founding members included such well known figures of the day as Daniel Chester French, Augustus St. Gaudens, Richard Morris Hunt, and Stanford White as well as sculptors less familiar today, such as Herbert Adams, Paul W. Bartlett, Karl Bitter, J. Massey Rhind, Attilio Piccirilli, and John Quincy Adams Ward—who served as the first president for the society.
Since its founding in the nineteenth century, the National Sculpture Society (NSS) has remained dedicated to promoting figurative and realistic sculpture. During the years 1919 to 1924, four works commissioned from members of the National Sculpture Society were funded by philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire, including George Rogers Clark (1921) by Robert Ingersoll Aitken at Charlottesville, Virginia. Membership worldwide in 2006 was around 4,000 members, including sculptors, architects, art historians, and conservators. Its headquarters, library, and gallery are located on Park Avenue in Manhattan, just north of Grand Central Terminal. There is an entrance to the building from Lexington Avenue also.
The NSS publishes Sculpture Review, a quarterly magazine.
Past presidents of the society have included John Quincy Adams Ward, James Earle Fraser, Chester Beach, Wheeler Williams, Leo Friedlander and Cecil de Blaquiere Howard.
The first woman to gain admission into the NSS was Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson, in 1895. She was followed a few years later by Enid Yandell, in 1899 and Abastenia St. Leger Eberle in 1906. In 1946 Richmond Barthé was likely the first African-American to be admitted.
In 1994 the NSS held their first exhibition outside the United States at the Palazzo Mediceo Di Seravezza in Italy. Titled “100 Years of the National Sculpture Society of the United States of America in Italy” it ran from the 16th of July through the 4th of September and was curated by Nicky and Stanley Bleifeld along with Costantino Paolicchi in collaboration with Lodovico Gierut and Paolo Giorgi. Among the 60 notable American sculptors whose work was selected for the exhibition were Stanley Bleifeld, Andrew DeVries, Neil Estern, Leonda Finke, Bruno Lucchesi, Barbara Lekberg, Richard MacDonald and Elliott Offner.Newcomen Society of the United States
The Newcomen Society of the United States was a non-profit educational foundation for "the study and recognition of achievement in American business and the society it serves." It was responsible for more than 1,600 individual histories of organizations, from corporations to colleges, which were distributed to libraries and its membership. In 2007, the chairman and trustees announced the society's closure.Pit bull
Pit bull is the common name for a type of dog descended from bulldogs and terriers. The pit bull type is particularly ambiguous as it encompasses a range of pedigree breeds, informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably identified. Formal breeds often considered to be of the pit bull type include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The American Bulldog is also sometimes included. Mixed-breed dogs which physically resemble these breeds often get labelled as "pit bulls" by shelters. Many of these breeds were originally developed as fighting dogs from cross breeding bull-baiting dogs (used to hold the faces and heads of larger animals such as bulls) and terriers. After the use of dogs in blood sports was banned, such dogs were used as catch dogs in the United States for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt and drive livestock, and as family companions. Despite dog fighting now being illegal in the United States, it still exists as an underground activity, and pit bulls are a common type used.Owners of pit bull-type dogs deal with a strong breed stigma, however controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous. Because owners of stigmatized breeds are more likely to have involvement in criminal or violent acts, breed correlations may have the owner's behavior as the underlying causal factor. Some jurisdictions have enacted legislation banning the group of breeds, and some insurance companies do not cover liability from pit bull bites. Among other roles, pit bulls have served as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and several have appeared on film.Puppy mill
A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a type of commercial dog breeding facility. They are all around the world and have similar characteristics. Although no standardized legal definition for "puppy mill" exists, a definition was established in Avenson v. Zegart in 1984 as "a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits". The ASPCA uses a similar definition: "a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs." According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are an estimated 10,000 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills in the United States, in total selling more than 2,000,000 puppies annually. In Australia around 450,000 puppies are sold each year and in England approximately 400,000 are sold each year.The characteristics of a puppy mill are, as said in the report by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, "Emphasis on Quantity not Quality, Indiscriminate Breeding, Continuous Confinement, Lack of Human Contact and Environmental Enrichment, Poor Husbandry and Minimal to No Veterinary Care." Dog breeders focus on quantity not quality meaning, their goal is to breed as many puppies as possible for the most amount of revenue. When there is a rise in demand on a certain type of dog, breeders/puppy mills try to meet that demand but when these dogs do not sell, most of them end up in animal shelters or euthanized. When dog breeders focus more on quantity rather than quality, overpopulation is created in the puppy mills and diseases are more likely to spread. According to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, indiscriminate breeding is when, "dogs are bred early and often and there is often no screening for heritable disorders, resulting in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects." These dogs rarely go outside. In some mills they are allowed outside for a short amount of time per day. While in these puppy mills, the dogs get no time to walk or play because they are housed in the small crates with little space. Being in a small space and not being able to be active causes stress and affects their development. The puppies do not get to interact with other humans when living in puppy mills, they do not get treats or toys. Not being able to interact with humans can lead to behavioral problems. Puppy mills are unsanitary, their water is usually dirty, the food is not healthy for the dogs and no one cleans up after them. The puppy mill dogs get little to no veterinary care. The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association stated, "Breeding dogs in puppy mills often suffer from injuries and diseases that go untreated. Injuries and disorders that affect a dog’s reproductive capabilities are rarely treated. Arguably the worst problem is the untreated advanced dental disease, causing infection, pain, and in severe cases, the loss of part or all of the mandible and maxilla."The term "mill" is also applied to operations involving other animals commercially bred for profit, including cats. For-profit breeding on a smaller scale may be referred to as backyard breeding. Although this term has negative connotations and may also refer to unplanned or non-commercial breeding.
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