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We frequently hear the vague term “values” thrown around with regard to American politics, culture, and life: What are our defining American values?

The Meaning of 'American Values'

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

We frequently hear the term “values” discussed as regards American politics, culture and life. But what are "American values?" Are they about family? If so, what kind of family? Are they about religion? If so, is it religion as a separate entity from the government, or religion as an ideology that informs government?

During the week of December 13th, we’ll be delving into the values we frequently equate with being an American. We’ll talk with experts and real people, both, and we’d love to hear from you as well: What do you consider to be "American values?"

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American Values: Reinvention

Monday, December 13, 2010

We frequently hear the term “values” discussed with regard to American politics, culture and life. But what are "American values?"

This whole week, we’ll be delving into that question. We're talking with experts and real people, both, and we’d love to hear from you as well: What do you consider to be "American values?"

We’re kicking off the series today with Toby Miller, a British-Australian-US interdisciplinary social scientist and author of “Makeover Nation: The United States of Reinvention.”

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American Values: Family

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We frequently hear the term “values” discussed with regard to American politics, culture and life. But what are "American values," exactly? All week, we’re delving into this question. Yesterday, we discussed reinvention. And today, we’re looking at family: how we came to use the terms “family values” and “American values” interchangeably, and the moving target of what Americans actually consider a family.

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American Values: Home Ownership

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today, we continue our week-long series on American values with an examination of land and home ownership. The desire to own land — dating back to the notion of “Manifest Destiny,” as newly-minted Americans spread west across the continent — has always been considered a fundamental American value. How has our government and culture reinforced this value? And is it still as important to our identity as Americans as it was in the days when our motto was “Go West, Young Man”?

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American Values: Thrift

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ben Franklin once said “a penny saved is a penny earned.” In this era of advertising and prominently-placed product logos, though, can we say that thrift is still a fundamental American Value? Or is conspicuous consumption more in keeping with what it means to be an American?

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American Values: Religion

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The United States, by some reckoning, is among the most consistently religious countries on earth. More of us go to a house of worship on a regular basis than in most countries. The majority of us believe in a higher power. And we have both more religions and a higher level of religious tolerance than anywhere else on the planet. But is religion really an American value? And if so, why has the separation of church and state been held so fundamental since the days of Thomas Jefferson?

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American Values: Freedom

Friday, December 17, 2010

We frequently hear the term “values” discussed with regard to American politics, culture and life. But what are "American values?" All week, we’re delving into this question. Yesterday we discussed home ownership. Today we wrap up our series with a look at freedom. How did freedom come to be an American Value? If we value freedom so much, why have we spent so much of our nation’s history enslaving our own people, or oppressing those in other nations? And what does Freedom mean to Americans today?

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