The Book, Distant Mirrors: America As A Foreign Culture, Is

947 words - 4 pages

The book, Distant Mirrors: America as a Foreign Culture, is a compilation of articles written by anthropologists, sociologists and professors. It was edited by Phillip R. DeVita and James D. Armstrong. This is the third edition of the Distant Mirrors books. In the introduction to the book it is said that Americans like things bigger and better and that is why they feel the need to keep making new editions. The main focus of this book is looking at the American culture from a different prospective. It is very difficult to be objective about your own culture. You are brought up in your culture so it is very easy to overlook some of the details. The routine you follow during the day may seem perfectly normal to you but odd and unexplainable to an outsider. In the article, Professor Widjojo Goes to a Koktel Parti, it describes what an American cocktail party may seem like to someone who has never been or heard of one. He almost makes the cocktail party seem like the worst idea ever. "Social status is indicated by the number of partis that a couple is invited to attend - and, of course, wealth, since the woman cannot wear the same dress and hat to more then one parti. People complain bitterly at the number they have to go to-" (Labarre 32). This has to deal with how we, as Americans, are socialized. We are brought up in a society that puts high standards on being wealthy and being happy. If you are attending these cocktail parties then supposedly you fall under both of these categories. This may not be the reality but people are responding to their perceptions of reality. Which they learn through interaction, in a way, conforming to what others think reality is. A reoccurring theme in this book seems to be what that American culture lacks compared to other countries cultures. One thing mentioned was that our cities are not as "city-like" as other cities in the world. "Not only are there no sidewalks, there are no squares where people can safely gather, meet people, talk, or buy flowers. There are no coffee shops like in Vienna, Rome, or Budapest" (Mucha 38). Also, our urban life lacks face-to-face contact; people don't know their neighbors and sometimes hardly acknowledge them when they walk down the street. And with the more technology advances it has made it easier to achieve a sense of anonymity. Another thing that differs with the American culture is how we raise and treat our children. In other countries children are not to speak unless spoken to, they must refer to the elders in the proper, polite way by always...

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