We hear almost everyday about ethnic groups, minority groups and racism on the news. We hear people call themselves African American, German American, Asian American, and any number of other country slash American. People say it helps them identify with their roots and their culture. I suppose I could call myself Irish or Norwegian American, but I doubt it would help me identify with a family culture that I know nothing about. So why do people identify themselves as one thing or another and American? What does it do and say about our modern culture when looking at the family? I think to answer these questions we would have to define both the terms "culture" and "ethnic", and then try to put the two ideas together to see what happens. .
The Webster dictionary defines culture as: .the total pattern of human behavior and artifacts and depending on man's capacity of learning and transmitting knowledge through the use of tools, language, and system of abstract thought, b: the body of customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits constituting a distinct complex or tradition of a racial, religious or social group. Another way of defining culture is referring to that entire range of institutions, artifacts and practices that make up our symbolic universe. .it does not embrace the range of activity normally deemed either "economic" or "political" (Milner, Browitt, (2002). If we build off these definitions for this paper we could build a working definition and say that culture is the projection of the production of all abstract things, such as art, religion, sports, and leisure activity, by a given people in a given area.
In America we see a culture that has a focus on materialism. The idea that our western culture has men working an average of 48.8hrs and women working an average of 41.5 (U.S. Census bureau, 2003) and still our income to debt ratio is growing in the negative every year.