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Cultural Foundations: United States Vs. Canada

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Cultural Foundations: United States vs. Canada

Canadian and United States cultural foundations are similar and yet they vary in origin, deference toward authority, and identity as defined by the media. The two use very different symbols for their cultures; whereas the United States symbol is the great melting pot, Canada’s cultural symbol is the mosaic. (Seiler, 97) The United States melting pot gives one the image of diverse peoples coming together to form one great new culture. Canada’s mosaic, on the other hand, gives one the image of a country whose diversity is not lost, but cherished. Though both of these countries which make up the continent of North America, were mostly settled by European immigrants, their beginning philosophies were very different, thus the difference in their cultural foundations.

The similarities between the cultural origins of Canada and the United States lie mainly in the fact that European immigrants settled both. However, the settlers in the United States portion of North America possessed a “revolutionary” mentality whereas those who settled in Canada were of a “counter-revolutionary” mind. (Seiler, 98) Colonial settlers in the United States desired freedom from British rule, and those who settled in Canada remained loyal to their British ties, accepting immigration of those in the United States who were of the Loyalist mind-set. (Seiler, 99) This, in effect, resulted in the birth of cultural differences between the two countries.

The fact that Canadians are considered to be more deferential toward authority than are the people of the United States is due, in part, to the counter-revolutionary origin of Canadian society. (Kanji and Nevitte, 121-122) The United States, because it “was born from a revolutionary past,” values ideals of “liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and free-market capitalism.” (Kanji and Nevitte, 122) Canada, however, originated as a “dual-fragment society.” (Kanji and Nevitte, 122) Canadian immigrants remained loyal to the British crown. Although they too valued “liberal individualism,” they also valued monarchy and desired to maintain “Empire unity.” (Kanji and Nevitte, 122) This is believed to be the reason that Canadians are considered more deferential than are Americans. As a result, crime rates and the “proportion of law enforcement officers and lawyers” per capita are much higher in the United States than in Canada. (Kanji and Nevitte, 122-123) Kanji and Nevitte go on to cite data from studies, however, that supports the notion that citizens of the United States are actually more deferential than Canadians. (125-134) Although this may be due, in part, to the subtle changes of the cultures over time with each new generation. (Kanji and Nevitte, 134) Mass media may also influence these changes a great deal.

The Canadian media market is flooded with American programming and literature.

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