I came across a blog post by commenting on Congressman Paul Ryan saying that Preventing Gay Marriage Part of America’s ‘Universal Human Values’. The politics of the particular issue aside, a question of interest for us is whether there is such a thing as universal American values? Or for that matter “American values?”
ConsumerShift found global patterns in changing values that we might say are “universal.” I hesitate to use that term as it suggests an inevitability or certainty that is probably not worth debating. Are there global patterns? Yes. Are they universal/inevitable? Maybe.
On to American values. The global patterns in values operate at a structural level, interacting with and accompanied by economic and political changes. America as a developed and affluent society shares patterns in values common among other affluent developed nations across the globe. ConsumerShift observed that these nations are trending toward postmodern and integral values. The leading edge of these changes, by the way, is found in Northern Europe, not the US. A key point that I make in the book is that while countries share the same structural patterns in values, individual cultures interpret them differently. Thus, self-expression, a postmodern value, is interpreted differently in the US, European countries, or Japan, for instance. So there are unique cultural interpretations of values, but not different values per se.
It would be fair to say that there are unique mixes of values. Not all affluent countries share the exact same distribution of values. The US, for instance, shows far more traditional values than the Northern European countries. There is a distinctive US mix.
So, we can say that there is a US interpretation and mix of values, not distinctive US values, and they are not universal. Andy Hines