Human life is defined by a number of factors which range from social to economical through environment. These factors shape individuals into the expectations of the family through a process of learning and adaptation. Why is it that people tend to behave in the same way? Why do we do what we do on a daily basis without having to be reminded? Why do Americans and Asians differ? Is it possible to be an African and behave like Americans? All these fundamental questions revolve around the issue of identity and clearly understanding who we are. One the ways in which people identify themselves is through culture. Every society has a culture which detects and streamlines the behavior of people. Is it possible to lose culture? How does one become cultureless or deculturized? Has America been deculturized? This paper explores deculturization in America with emphasis ways in which peoples’ lives have been affected as a result of what others refer to erosion of ethics and American values.
Deculturization can only be described and comprehensively understood by grasping the underlying meaning of culture. It is very easy to know when one becomes decultured by looking at the level of deviation from normally acceptable behavior and practices. Notably, many misfits in the society are as a result of being decultured. What is culture? Sociologists define culture in various ways. It can be described as a set of common values practices, goals and attitudes which define a society institution or nation. American culture therefore may refer to defined and acceptable way of life. It is however important to mention that culture is wide and universal, it is not unique (Steele 613). There are many communities in the world which share practices and beliefs thus being defined by similar life boundaries. Like any other culture in the world, American culture is defined by and not limited to language, religion, dressing, music and food. Therefore deculturization occurs when individuals or the whole society abandons its culture or deviates from its original cultural standards.
As rich as it is and as complex as it may be described, the Culture of the United States has always operated within two strong tensional forces of domestic originality and European ideals. The culture of Americans engrossed involves values traditions, arts, ideals and innovations which have naturally and domestically nurtured and imported lifestyle from other parts of the world like Britain and Asia. Unlike imported cultural practices, common ideals which have been well preserved like recognition of national days, the pride in military advantage, entertainment and sports makes American feel a sense of national pride and the feeling of their uniquely considered way of life. These involve a number of practices which were mainly observed by Native Americans before colonization and civilization. Subcultures from other groups also feature prominently in the lives of Americans. These groups included Asians and African Americans who served as slaves in early days. With globalization and appreciation of the global village as defined by other aspects of life like technology, it is not easy to distinguish the original culture of America.
Even as we consider culture with focus to America, the question is; to what extent has America been decultured? What are some of the factors which have continually propagated the process of deculturization? While many Americans could be considering transformation of their original into new and dangerous lifestyle, preservation of ones culture is very important. Deviation from normalcy under whichever circumstances is regarded as an act of inhumanity. Deculturization blinds people from not only understanding where they have come from and where they are headed but also denies them the human opportunity to identify and appreciate who they are. Deculturization leads to ethnocentrism where ones culture is substituted with another culture which is totally different. Many Americans have fallen victims of this social scourge which continue to threaten well knitted beliefs and ideals which have a fundamental role in defining who they really are. Understanding ethnocentrism allows us to fully appreciate our culture and also explains what happens when one becomes deculturized.
Just as there are countless number of cultures in the world so there are methods of deculturization. These methods most of which have contributed to the erosion of culture in the United States include change of language, segregation and isolation. Additionally when the education curriculum reflects beliefs and traditions of a dominant group of people then such a community is undergoing deculturization (Appelbaum 23). This is encouraged by say use of teaches from dominant classes to impact knowledge among the minority. Likewise, when a dominant group of people is denied the opportunity to live according to their culture and appreciate their identity, then culture ceases to exist.
Deculturization in the world can also be attributed to the fact that many people considered American traditions, institutions and way of life as the best in the world which needed adoption through imposition. Many analysts believe that the U.S has in the passed tagged its culture to almost every nation and person who existed in its domain of influence. Many nations and children have found themselves digesting a completely different kind of life imposed to them via education, leadership style or even entertainment which is mainly carried by music (Lomotey 73). Hip Hop music which is considered as American culture has penetrated to almost every nation in the world especially young people who feel connected to the super power, U.S whenever they listen or sing Hip Hop. This however is nothing but deculturization which continues to rob people their perfect ideals and original identity.
Even though one may think that the American idea of culture has begun recently, the process begun long ago as early as in seventeenth century during the colonization of Northern America. It is quite ironical that those who sort refuge in the United States after running from persecution in their mother countries turned to be agents of colonialism. The impact of these discriminatory educationists went miles ahead in transforming the lives of people through deviation from what they had known as acceptable and source of identity. Schooling was considered as a major tool to reach out people, young and old up to 1920’s. Since was the main language in most schools, Native American culture was undermined and considered nothing (Tutwiler 13). This was a real misconception, a denial of identity among Native Americans. With all the efforts to regain their identity, Native Americans have found it hard to shed off what was imposed on their fore fathers as culture.
Discovering the role of culture is a necessary condition in preserving the identity of people. As a basic need in the society, education can be the best way of dealing with deculturization since every person gets an opportunity to be in class and gain knowledge. This can be the best way of making people understand that regardless of who they are, subscribing to a culture is very important (Pewewardy, Cornel. (n.d)). Policies and laws have to be put in place to protect the not only the minority but also to act as a source of culture protection. Deculturization is quite dangerous. With the growth in technology, almost everybody regardless of sex and race is prone to it. Millions of people continue to get deculturized through the internet, media and other forms of communication. It has to be a personal initiative to protect and preserve ones culture. It is a source of inspiration and a mirror through which men and women come to realize who they are. Every effort has to be drawn in order to deal with deculturization which begun long ago in the United States.