Commerical Guidebooks


Assignment 4-1


Commercial guidebooks usually give a general description of what cultural taboos a traveler will encounter when visiting a foreign country. Handing a gift to an Arab with the left hand, flashing the soles of your feet in Thailand, or raving about the shellfish in Israel might brand you the ultimate foreign misfit if it weren\'t for their handy tips. General cultural descriptions for Americans, however, are little more difficult to formulate. Given the unique immigrant roots of the country, social customs from the motherland still hold sway among many second and third generation American families. Political correctness so fashionable these days in the States also dictates that nothing is truly American for the country is in a constant state of flux as it accepts the influence of all cultures within its borders.


Despite the politically correct purists, certain American cultural ticks do exist that clearly mark Americans as Americans, regardless of the cultural variations posed by the newer generations. For visitors to the States who might find themselves socializing with the natives on a more personal level than the local theme park, here are a few American quirks that, if avoided, will keep you from committing any nasty gaffes.


First and foremost, Americans are punctual, if not absolutely ruled by the clock. If the theater shows you are to attend starts at 7:30pm, expect the majority of Americans to be in their seats twenty minutes prior.


Crawling in the dark over other patrons to reach your seat even five minutes after the curtain has risen will cause grumbles. You might even be forbidden to enter by the theater ushers who will force you to wait in the wings until a suitable break in the show. Time sensitivity extends to dinner reservations at local restaurants, as well, whether or not you are meeting any Americans. A mere thirty-minute delay will push you to the end of the reservation list at bustling, popular eateries.


Dining with Americans at their home is only slightly less restrictive. The hostess will fret over her perfectly timed meal when you donít arrive at the appointed hour, but you are allowed (and almost expected) a fifteen minute leeway which is considered fashionably late.


A popular American phrase is that all men are created equal and Americans quite literally practice what they preach here. The average American will not take kindly to bullying, condescension, line jumping, or downright pushiness all of which might be acceptable practices among the well-to-do of other countries.


The position of women in the family has been so altered from past history, projections made, even forty years ago, are increasingly wrong. Though, even with the changing structure of the family the economic labor power has not significantly increased. The role of housewife in the post-industrial age was just as important to women as today\'s dual earning household. The housewife was the counter-part to the husbandís role of breadwinner. It was the wife who cleaned the husbandís clothes, prepared his food and provided emotional support, without which he could not fulfill his role as breadwinner.


Another facet of the economic family unit is reproduction. The goal of the family unit is to produce children, which in turn expands the labor force, which creates a larger economic base. In Canadian families the emphasis is on quality not quantity and because of this there are gaps in the unskilled labor force. It is only through immigration that the capitalist economy has been able to keep up with the demand for cheap unskilled labor.

So the value of labor power is determined outside capitalism, in non-capitalist units that maintain and reproduce labor power...families. Corporations produce wealth in the form of goods and services and a can last well beyond an individualís life span. Capitalism is a powerful institution with holds on the economy, political state and family as well. The payment of wages allows the corporations to grow and continue to produce goods and exploit workers