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Author Topic: American stereotypes, autostereotypes.
Szymon
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Hello everyone,

Im writing a paper for my sociology class. For part of it I need to know what (in general) are the autostereotypes of US citizens (that is to say, what do you think about yourselves) and stereotypes about my nation (Polish). Dont worry, I am aware what they are gonna be... . I would be very grateful if you could write some of them.
So- what Americans think abouth themsevles, and what do they think about Poles?

As an example, my friend's been doing the same about the Japanese. Japanese consider themselves hardworking, not caring about themselves, but about groups they belong to, they think they are more "western" than the chinese, and so on. Poles think about Japanese as most civilised in Asia, high- developed, precise and travelling all around Poland with cameras. Japanese think about Poles that we are very hospitable, drinking a lot and hot-headed.

So that's about something I'd like to know. Thank you in advance.

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Elmer's Glue
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We think poles are very useful.
Firemen can slide down them, you can dance with them, hang flags from them, etc. etc.

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Szymon
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I am being serious, please.Although you helped already [Razz]
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katharina
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We think we are awesome!

There are so many different Americans with so many self-perceptions that it is hard to say. If pressed, however, I think individualistic, freedom-loving, and egalitarian would be among the self-described characteristics. We don't like admitting that there are different classes in America but rather prefer thinking that there are the desperately poor, middle class, and fabulously wealthy, with 95% of everyone fitting into the middle class. I think there is a perception that we are innovative.

For Poles, well...there used to exist something called Polish jokes. They are about the level of most racial jokes - maybe less inflammatory because there aren't a consistent population of people of Polish descent across the U.S. so maybe they are about the level of "blonde" jokes. I would venture that for a lot of Americans, Polish jokes is about their only exposure to Poles at all. I know that a lot of Polish jokes were passed around my school precisely because no one knew anyone of Polish background.

Beyond that, I think Poland is lumped with all of the other Eastern bloc, former Soviet countries. Had a rough deal after World War II, now part of Europe, economy and general infrastructure not quite up to Western Europe levels but doing all right.

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BlueWizard
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I think Americans (USA) are very geo-politically self-centered. And, of course, very personally self-centered. Since were are the center of the universe, we assume that everyone will accommodate us, and that whatever the problem is, we have the answer.

If I go to France, of course, they should speak English for my convenience, which, for the most part they do, but God forbid that I should have to learn French or Italian even on a primitive 'just get by' level. Though many Europeans are functional at a basic 'get by' level in many languages, most speak at least two or three at a reasonably conversational level. Americans barely speak English.

I also think we are a little LOUD. I don't think teenagers and young people in other parts of the world feel the need to constantly shout 'WOOO!', and generally yell and scream just to get noticed. That makes the world a little more dignified and the USA substantially less dignified.

While I am familiar with a wide range of Polish jokes and do laugh at them, I find that they are typically jokes you level at a culture you know nothing about, or alternately, a culture you are familiar with.

For example, here is a Norwegian joke that only Norwegians think is funny (I have Norwegian ancestry, by the way) - Did you hear the one about the Norwegian who love his wife so much he almost told her?

Most Polish jokes, are universally interchangeable, you can substitute any country for 'Polish' and it still works.

How many Poles does it take to screw in a light bulb? Seven, one to hold the bulb, and six to turn the ladder.

How many Englishmen does it take to screw in a light bulb? Seven, one to hold the bulb, and six to turn the ladder.

Though my knowledge of Poland is not that great, I do know this is a country that has struggled under great oppression. I also know that it has produced excellences in math, science, art, and music.

Having seen several travel logs of Poland, I would hope to go there someday.

So, my USA stereotype is that we are loud, self-centered, and wasteful.

My stereotypes of Poland are related to its struggle against oppression and tyranny, and of it excellence in arts and sciences.

Steve/bluewizard

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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During the year my class had a Polish math teacher, we'd "Polandize" the class by adding "owski" to everyone's last name. That's really the most stereotypical thing about Poles I've seen in the States.

Steve/bluewizard: Cool! You're of Norwegian descent too?

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The Rabbit
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When I was in Poland last summer, I was surprised to find how beautiful the polish women are. There are few places I've traveled where I've seen so many really beautiful women and girls.

When I was young, there was a popular stereotype that Poles were slow and a bit lazy -- but that one seems to have largely disappeared. Now I think the most prevalent stereotype of Poles involves, beer, sausage, hard to pronounce names and rosary beads.

There is also a stereotype that is associated with all the former communist countries, people are poor, expect the government to take care of them, aren't innovative, live in dingy grey apartments and frown alot.

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ketchupqueen
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I would like to state ahead of time that I do not hold any of the following stereotypes as my personal beliefs or opinions, just that they're ones I've encountered.

Polish people are often characterized in jokes as stupid and flatulent and hairy (I'm not sure why, none of those have particularly applied to Poles I've known, although I'm sure they have their share as much as we do.) Poor is a definite stereotype of Polish people. And possibly "backward" as well (as in, a whole country full of hick farmers with no clue about social graces.)

American autostereotypes: we're overconsumers. We're wasteful, arrogant, fat and lazy (or else thin and overconcerned with our looks); we are loud and uneducated and uncouth; we are years behind Europe in many ways but have a delusion we are better than them. We're snobbish, or else rednecks. We are superficial. That's all I can think of right now...

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The Rabbit
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KQ, That's certainly a stereotype that is widely held of Americans outside America but isn't an autostereotype a stereotype Americans have of themselves?

Americans think of themselves as the hero wearing the white hat. Since we are "the good guys", we can't understand why anyone wouldn't love us unless they are just evil.

Americans believe that the world is a meritocracy. Americans believe that we have more than other people because we work harder and do things right.

Americans think pride and greed are virtues.

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ketchupqueen
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I must run in different circles than you. Those ARE autostereotypes where I come from.

Though even within that same group, most of the people I grew up listening to on this subject still think we're the greatest country in the world. And that we welcome everyone. And the reason they would harp on those other things is because they love America and want it to be more like their ideal of what it should be. [Smile]

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The Rabbit
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OK, KQ I run in those circles too but then I'm living outside the US right now.
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ketchupqueen
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(Which brings up an interesting point; American autostereotypes may differ with political and religious affiliation, region of residence/rearing, etc. I'm not sure how much more or less autostereotypes would differ in other countries. Which brings up yet another-- we tend to see other countries as more culturally homogenous than us, and us as more tolerant and mixed, except for what we consider a "fringe element" of intolerant people-- even thought they may not be the fringe or even the minority at all.)
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
OK, KQ I run in those circles too but then I'm living outside the US right now.

I just live in L.A. and grew up surrounded by liberal hippie types. [Wink]

Oh, got another one-- we're politically uneducated and unaware of the rest of the world until they infringe on our lives in some way.

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The Rabbit
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Here is an interesting quote from today's "Trinidad News".

quote:
Most of the rest of the world knows only too well the ugly America, the deployer of big bombs and brutally arm-twisting diplomats abroad, with its bewilderingly ignorant, guns-and-churches masses at home. But America as an Idea of Possibility without parallel in world history, America the Wonderful-after seven years of the Bush Administration's systematic debasement of that country, the world-and even more so, perhaps, Americans themselves-needed nothing less than a miracle to reaffirm that America. And last Tuesday they and we got it. Enter Barack Obama.
I think it really highlights the two radically different stereotypes of America that exist in the world.
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Szymon
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The problem with sterotypes is that 1) they simplify things, because we are unable to know everything and 2) they are emotionaly involved- so fact that you say you've never met a single Pole doesnt matter. When you hear Polish, first thing you see is a poor, hairy man, who is lazy. Am I right?

When in the US I was outraged (I was very, very young) that you dont know where Poland is! Then I stopped being outraged, for my fellow american kids didnt even know where Europe is exactly. Apart from that, I learned some marvelous things: you dont close your cars! This is unbelivable! I close my car even when I go to pay on a petrol station or paying for parkometer (thats how its called?). You are always saying: hi, how are you, and answering: how are you, wich is bizzare. Every day I went to school there was a policeman (it was in boston) who stopped the whole traffic, and it was quite a big crossing, to let me go just thru the middle of the street, so I wouldnt miss my bus. Thats what I remember, and its nice. Ahh, and you sell ice- creams in size, not number of "balls". Strange [Wink]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Thats what I remember, and its nice. Ahh, and you sell ice- creams in size, not number of "balls". Strange
Well we call them "scoops" not balls and it all depends on how and where you buy the ice cream. At a supermarket, it will come in 1 pint, 1 quart and 2 quart containers (sometimes larger as well) but if you go to an ice cream store (say Haagen Daas or Ben and Jerry's), they will sell it in 1, 2 or 3 scoop servings.

I'm not sure what you mean about closing our cars. Are you talking about locking the doors or turning off the engine. I think you would find that except in very small towns pretty much all Americans lock their cars these days.

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Szymon
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
I think you would find that except in very small towns pretty much all Americans lock their cars these days.

You see there is no difference in Polish between closing and locking, so my mistake (you always lock [Wink] ). Yeah, I mean locking. For what I remember my host father didnt ever lock his car. And I remember sizes- small, regular and large...
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Kwea
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Ice cream...well, it depends on the place. A lot of ice cream places in the US serve soft-serve ice cream, and that doesn't come in scoops.

Some of the places here do both....they have a size, but then under the size is a descriptions of how many scoops there are in the size. It isn't an American thing as much as it is dependent on the place you get it, and maybe a geographic location within the US.

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Dan_Frank
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The vast majority of people I know stereotype most of their fellow Americans in the same way that KQ listed. And I can guarantee you, if you asked them, they would say that most Americans (you know, the ones they're stereotyping) would list the stereotypes Rabbit mentioned.

That is to say, the autostereotypes Rabbit listed are actually the stereotyped perception of what an accurate autostereotype would be, from the sort of Americans who believe they're above stereotyping.

I hope that was less confusing to read than it was to write.

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aspectre
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Pole dancing Warning: not suitable for children

Polish joke

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TomDavidson
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quote:
When you hear Polish, first thing you see is a poor, hairy man, who is lazy. Am I right?
No. Oddly enough, I think of a middle-aged female deli owner.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
The vast majority of people I know stereotype most of their fellow Americans in the same way that KQ listed. And I can guarantee you, if you asked them, they would say that most Americans (you know, the ones they're stereotyping) would list the stereotypes Rabbit mentioned.

That is to say, the autostereotypes Rabbit listed are actually the stereotyped perception of what an accurate autostereotype would be, from the sort of Americans who believe they're above stereotyping.

I hope that was less confusing to read than it was to write.

I think that makes a lot of sense.
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Xann.
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Hmmm, well i can only think of one polish sterotype, they like sausage, right?
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
How many Poles does it take to screw in a light bulb? Seven, one to hold the bulb, and six to turn the ladder.

How many Poles does it take to change a lightbulb? You idiot. Don't change a lightbulb with a pole, just use your hands!
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BlueWizard
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Hey, I like Polish Sausage even better that Brats.
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Szymon
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quote:
Originally posted by Xann.:
Hmmm, well i can only think of one polish sterotype, they like sausage, right?

Sausage used to be main part of our meal (I dont remember that) in PRP (Peoples Republic of Poland). Now its used only for barbecue, campfires and such. It can be really tasty. It can be really awful. I recently buy kielbasa, for thats how its called in Poland, from my neighbor, who is a hunter. He makes it from venison and so on. Really nice.
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ketchupqueen
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Kielbasa is what we call Polish-style sausage here, too. [Wink]

I think pierogies are my favorite Polish food. That, or stuffed cabbage leaves. We have a wonderful Polish restaurant nearby. Mmmm.

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Samprimary
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I made the most thoughtful and detailed post I have ever written on this forum here in this very thread. Spent at least an hour on it. And had it eaten, apparently.

Oh well, whatever. Maybe tomorrow the cliffs notes.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
The vast majority of people I know stereotype most of their fellow Americans in the same way that KQ listed. And I can guarantee you, if you asked them, they would say that most Americans (you know, the ones they're stereotyping) would list the stereotypes Rabbit mentioned.

That is to say, the autostereotypes Rabbit listed are actually the stereotyped perception of what an accurate autostereotype would be, from the sort of Americans who believe they're above stereotyping.

I hope that was less confusing to read than it was to write.

I think that makes a lot of sense.
I'm still not sure that this qualifies as an autostereotype. I haven't been able to find a definition on line, but it is my understanding that an autostereotype is a stereotype you hold of a group with which you self identify.

The Americans who hold these stereotypes are largely either counter-culture (hippies) or intelligentsia (college students, professors). The stereotype is one they hold of "mainstream America" a group they don't self identify with. It is a stereotype they have of "the other", a heterostereotype not an autostereotype.

I think to be an autostereotype we need to ask Americans who see themselves as "mainstream" how they see Americans.

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Selran
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In the past I don't think I would have had any opinion of Poland at all. I was aware of Polish jokes but never thought there was any basis for them. Now, do to a hobby of mine, when I think of Poland, I think of the 1944 Warsaw uprising and the Grey Ranks.
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katharina
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quote:
'm still not sure that this qualifies as an autostereotype. I haven't been able to find a definition on line, but it is my understanding that an autostereotype is a stereotype you hold of a group with which you self identify.

The Americans who hold these stereotypes are largely either counter-culture (hippies) or intelligentsia (college students, professors). The stereotype is one they hold of "mainstream America" a group they don't self identify with. It is a stereotype they have of "the other", a heterostereotype not an autostereotype.

This is exactly what I was thinking. It isn't an autostereotype if it only belongs to the "other." I doubt those who hold such a poor opinion of most Americans consider themselves to be one of "most Americans."
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paigereader
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ahhh... but how many americans does it take to screw in a light bulb??? 1 to screw in the light bulb and 1 to tell the rest of the world how america saved the world from darkness... that sums it up!
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Stray
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
When you hear Polish, first thing you see is a poor, hairy man, who is lazy. Am I right?
No. Oddly enough, I think of a middle-aged female deli owner.
And I think of a physicist in his 30's. I guess he was kinda hairy now that I think about it [Wink]
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The Rabbit
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I think of a paranoid bald homely engineering professor in his early 50s with really thick glasses and his beautiful 20 year old daughter.

I hadn't ever though about it before, but this family pretty well matched what I saw in poland. A lot of very beautiful women and at best average looking men.

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Dan_raven
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See, I grew up in the era of Lech Walesa. When I think of Pole I see shipyard worker sand miners first in line to stand up against the tyranny of communism. I picture a people of strong faith, and perhaps the greatest pope of the past century.

I read Michener's "Poland", and I see a history where brave people endured and brought nobility to the heart of Europe.

During the years that America's democracy was just beginning to bloom, the republic and the elected king of the Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth, the largest country in Europe at that time, was disappearing.

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Tresopax
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quote:
KQ, That's certainly a stereotype that is widely held of Americans outside America but isn't an autostereotype a stereotype Americans have of themselves?
I think most Americans do autostereotype Americans as wasteful, fat, uneducated, uncouth, etc. BUT I think Americans also tend to believe in a sort of common sense held by the average person, which trumps all of those negatives, and which Americans are more in touch with than counterparts who are more educated or more cultured. In fact, I think there is some sense that Americans have greater common sense precisely because of our flaws. We are the hero in the white hat AND the average flawed joe.
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Szymon
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
That, or stuffed cabbage leaves. We have a wonderful Polish restaurant nearby. Mmmm.

We call them "golabki" which literally means- pidgeons [Smile] . As a kid I really thought theyre birds.

As to autosterotypes- when posting that comment I wondered if I should ask one more question- is there something like american nation? You are all so mixed up, Mexicans, Afro-Americans, the English, the Irish and son on. So is it possible, that Americans dont make a nation? Sociology, in general, claims that nation has two indispencible elements: self- awareness of a group (nation) and ability to think- "we" and "them". So do you think, as white Americans- "we", including spanish-speaking and Afro-americans? Do you Afro-americans think "they" when thinking about white? So maybe this is the problem? Not being able to find a "mainstream" meaning- we are not a nation, at least not one like the English, French, Polish or German?
For me, with all do respect to those I dont mention- Americans are either white: english-speaking, divided into two groups- northerns, more left-winged, democratic, social, rat-racing and so on, and southerns- conservatists, CSA supporters, chauvinists (do I spell it correctly?), and afroamericans-haters. Or afro-american- east coast, living only in cities, ghettos, poor, violent, family- loving, gangsta, listening to rap, creating a alternative culture. I am aware of great generalization, but thats what stereotypes are about, arent they? Spanish speaking dont fit into americans culture as I imagine it. I dunno why...

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Szymon
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And is it really an insult to say "black"? "Afro- Americans" is soooo long...
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katharina
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That's a very good question.

I think we do make up a nation, but isn't homogenous at all. There's a dream of a melting pot, but it is more like a salad bowl where all different kinds of people exist together and touch but often bear no resemblance to one another.

If you are talking about what are Americans are like when abroad, then you are only talking about the 5% of Americans that can afford to and are interested in travelling abroad enough to actually do it. You can find some broad trends about Americans, but it will not apply to all. Most Americans are Christian; most Americans believe in democracy; most Americans believe in a meritocracy; most Americans are capitalists; most Americans think quite highly of the ideals that spurred the nation's creation. That isn't everyone, though, not by a long shot.

There are so few things that I would say even 90% of Americans believe in or think is endemic to being an American, and I think a belief that everyone has a chance to change their station in life is one of them. It is often not true, but there's a belief that it is, and that belief can be and often is self-fulfilling.

This is fascinating to me in terms of Europe, because what does it mean to be Polish? Is there a Platonic Poland that can be achieved even without the racial heritage? In other words, is it possible for, say, immigrants from Africa to become Polish? If so, how? If not, does that mean "Polish" is irrevocably connected to blood?

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BlueWizard
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I want to add a little side note about something that has enhanced my view of Poland, and of course, that is the Polish Pope.

I saw a biography of him on PBS-TV, and I was as deeply impressed by the country as I was by the man.

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Epictetus
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quote:
So is it possible, that Americans dont make a nation? Sociology, in general, claims that nation has two indispencible elements: self- awareness of a group (nation) and ability to think- "we" and "them"
I think that's one of the major elements in American Politics today: there are so many groups right now, who are all trying define America's national identity. You have Christian groups on one hand, claiming something like, "the majority of Americans are Christian," therefore, America should be a Christian Nation (in one form or another,) you also have those that want America to be the world's police force, etc.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
The vast majority of people I know stereotype most of their fellow Americans in the same way that KQ listed. And I can guarantee you, if you asked them, they would say that most Americans (you know, the ones they're stereotyping) would list the stereotypes Rabbit mentioned.

That is to say, the autostereotypes Rabbit listed are actually the stereotyped perception of what an accurate autostereotype would be, from the sort of Americans who believe they're above stereotyping.

I hope that was less confusing to read than it was to write.

I think that makes a lot of sense.
I'm still not sure that this qualifies as an autostereotype. I haven't been able to find a definition on line, but it is my understanding that an autostereotype is a stereotype you hold of a group with which you self identify.

The Americans who hold these stereotypes are largely either counter-culture (hippies) or intelligentsia (college students, professors). The stereotype is one they hold of "mainstream America" a group they don't self identify with. It is a stereotype they have of "the other", a heterostereotype not an autostereotype.

I think to be an autostereotype we need to ask Americans who see themselves as "mainstream" how they see Americans.

The people I have known who held these stereotypes always included themselves in them.
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Szymon
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:

This is fascinating to me in terms of Europe, because what does it mean to be Polish? Is there a Platonic Poland that can be achieved even without the racial heritage? In other words, is it possible for, say, immigrants from Africa to become Polish? If so, how? If not, does that mean "Polish" is irrevocably connected to blood?

This is so so so much complicated. But Ill give it a shot.
-We speak one language. There is no other nation in the world to speak it. It is a very rare situation. You speak Polish- it means you're Polish.
- When nations began to appear (18th, 19th) there was no Poland on a world map, even though a hundred years before we were the largest country in Europe. So we were politcally divided into three (Russian, Prussian (German) and Austrian Partiotions). Language and catholic faith united us, because borders couldnt from 1795 until 1918. Short period of blossoming, being the "Paris of the east" (about our capital), then german occupation, then soviet. We became a closed country. There were no immigrants. Just Poles. This is so different from USA.
There are more and more foreigners in Poland now, but it is a very new thing. We have plenty of vietnamese. We dont like them.
The truth is, that to be a Pole, you just need to be born in a Polish family. Speaking Polish makes you Polish, as I said. We dont really think someone is polish if they dont or speak funny. Thats the main thing, I suppose. I have a friend who is Polish and black (quite rare). I consider her fully Polish, because her language is fluent, even though she's part Cuban.
And we still have a complex of being diminished to a minor role. We used to be the most important state in Europe. We hate it when Germans laugh at us, that we are thieves. We hate it to be considered poor. We crave to be noticed, looked up to.(check OSC's "A boy from Poland"- very true)

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
The vast majority of people I know stereotype most of their fellow Americans in the same way that KQ listed. And I can guarantee you, if you asked them, they would say that most Americans (you know, the ones they're stereotyping) would list the stereotypes Rabbit mentioned.

That is to say, the autostereotypes Rabbit listed are actually the stereotyped perception of what an accurate autostereotype would be, from the sort of Americans who believe they're above stereotyping.

I hope that was less confusing to read than it was to write.

I think that makes a lot of sense.
I'm still not sure that this qualifies as an autostereotype. I haven't been able to find a definition on line, but it is my understanding that an autostereotype is a stereotype you hold of a group with which you self identify.

The Americans who hold these stereotypes are largely either counter-culture (hippies) or intelligentsia (college students, professors). The stereotype is one they hold of "mainstream America" a group they don't self identify with. It is a stereotype they have of "the other", a heterostereotype not an autostereotype.

I think we understand each other relatively well. My point was that I have never seen an American for whom that was an autostereotype ("that" being America as the Good Guys, the way you described it). I think it's a common stereotype of "mainstream America" by elitists, such as the two groups you specified.

The group so quick to lump "Mainstream America" into such an ignorant stereotype is also the type not to self-identify with very many stereotypes, from what I've seen. As a matter of fact, I think they're the kind of people who think stereotyping is bad. [Roll Eyes]

... You know, I think I should add a disclaimer to my bitterness.
I grew up in Berkeley. So, yeah. There is that.

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rubble
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I like Rabbit's autostereotypes.

In fact, I was considering calling into an NPR talk show to ask a member of the Iraqi government if he thought that the average Iraqi understood that the average American had no designs on Iraqi resources -- that the average American thought that the US was still in Iraq to help, not exploit.

Before you all go yelling at me about how I don't really understand what the average American thinks about the war in Iraq -- I am using this example to describe MY autostereotypes. I'm not saying I'm right -- I'm saying it is my autostereotype.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
I think we understand each other relatively well. My point was that I have never seen an American for whom that was an autostereotype ("that" being America as the Good Guys, the way you described it). I think it's a common stereotype of "mainstream America" by elitists, such as the two groups you specified.
This is where our experience differs. I've known hundreds of Americans who embrace that stereotype of America. I'm not talking about an impression I've gathered from the media. I'm talking about personal experience with friends, family, church members, people I've canvased on the street, school teachers and students.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by rubble:
I was considering calling into an NPR talk show to ask a member of the Iraqi government if he thought that the average Iraqi understood that the average American had no designs on Iraqi resources -- that the average American thought that the US was still in Iraq to help, not exploit.

Before you all go yelling at me about how I don't really understand what the average American thinks about the war in Iraq -- I am using this example to describe MY autostereotypes. I'm not saying I'm right -- I'm saying it is my autostereotype.

I can add to your stereotype, my experience. I've spent a many hours over the past few years in peace rallies talking literally to the men and women on the street about the Iraq war. They fall roughly into to camps, those who oppose the war because they think its all about resources and those who support the war because they sincerely believe we are helping the Iraqi people. I've never yet met one who admitted to supporting the war and believed we were there to take their resources.

Now my experience doesn't not qualify as a study, its just a collection of anecdotes. Its entirely possible that most Americans want to take Iraq's resources they just won't talk to peace activists on the street about it.

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Artemisia Tridentata
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Szymon, when you mentioned language as the determining a factor in being Polish, I was reminded of my own personal "Polish" joke. I was in Basic Training for the US Air Force in August of 1969. The Viet-Nam war was in full play, and the training facility was operating at full capacity. New Airmen were being processed in batches that often were regional. My cohorts included a large group from Hamtramik Michigan. Many persons there are of Polish descent. One day a large group, perhaps 70, were taken to an auditorium for testing. We were told that we all had told our recruter that we were bi-lingual and now were to be tested. If we passed the test, it would be a positive note in our service record and could result in a desirable assignment. If we failed, it would indicate that we had lied to the recruter and would be a negative note in the service record and could result in an undesireable assignment. Then they brought out the tests. We were all sitting at strict attention, I was on the front row. I heard a rustle behind me, but did not turn to look. I remember there were 2 Russian tests, 5 German tests, about 20 Spanish tests. They were all called out and handed to persons who raised their hand. The rest of the tests were Polish. They called "POLISH" several times with no response. I then looked behind me. The room was almost empty.

By the way, where I come from, a majority speak at least some Spanish. Spanish speaking is certainly within mainstream "American Culture" as I know it.

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pH
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Isn't there an episode of the Simpsons where they join the Model UN, and Milhouse represents Poland?

Skinner: Poland, let's hear your nation's accomplishments.
Milhouse: Well....I heard they sent a rocket to the sun once....at night. And there was that submarine....with the screen doors...

-pH

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
I think we understand each other relatively well. My point was that I have never seen an American for whom that was an autostereotype ("that" being America as the Good Guys, the way you described it). I think it's a common stereotype of "mainstream America" by elitists, such as the two groups you specified.
This is where our experience differs. I've known hundreds of Americans who embrace that stereotype of America. I'm not talking about an impression I've gathered from the media. I'm talking about personal experience with friends, family, church members, people I've canvased on the street, school teachers and students.
A lot of this definitely depends on where you grew up and where you now live. A lot of New Orleanians are not too happy about America because they feel it didn't take care of them while the government threw tons of money at Iraq instead. I haven't been in Baton Rouge long enough to really hang out with a lot of people from here.

In Florida, we were all, um, Floridians, and we loved the space program. "Yay America" applied to Fourth of July parades and fireworks.

-pH

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