How Do Experts Describe American Culture?

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American culture is often described by experts as a kind of "melting pot," bringing together diverse ethnic and cultural groups. According to anthropologist Cristina De Rossi, many cultures within the United States, such as Hispanic Catholic groups, retain their own unique heritage while at the same time participating in American culture more generally. However, the mainstream American culture is not singular and varies considerably between the Northeast, South, Midwest, Southeast and West of the country.

Some experts have divided the United States into even more cultural units than the five regions listed above. Colin Woodward, author of "American Nations," conceives of 11 different cultures in the United States, each covering specific geographical regions. One of these regions, Yankeedom, which comprises the Northeast north of New York City, has a cultural emphasis on education and intellectualism, as well as community participation. New Netherland (New York City and north New Jersey) is materialistic, commercial and highly tolerant of other cultural groups. Greater Appalachia, taking in parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana and Illinois, has more of a cultural emphasis on individual liberty than community engagement. The same is true of the Deep South (Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina).

The region referred to by Woodward as The Left Coast, comprising coastal California, Oregon and Washington, is a mixture of the communal spirit of Yankeedom and the individual liberty and expression prized within the culture of Greater Appalachia.