Rebelling Versus Conforming

The above mentioned realia of American culture is closely connected with the dilemmas of choice in the face of opposing cultural objects. These dilemmas are shown as an issue of rebelling versus conforming. Life often seems to confront Americans with the need to choose between one orientation and the other in order to cope with ambivalence and interpersonal conflict. They are interpretive themes as well, because they are among the standard ways Americans perceive not only the choices that lie open to them but the essential nature of the relationship between the person and the society.


The full significance of conformity versus rebellion as metaphor by which American culture is described and lived can be grasped more clearly if we shift focus away from the everyday situations and began to examine them in a broader and more historical life. The history of American society from the very beginning shows that the national character was built on the principles of rebellion. The English Puritans, for example, did not want to conform with the style of life in what they regarded as a corrupt and religiously unsatisfying world. So they rebelled by going to a new continent to create there the state of their dream. Others rebelled other kinds of pasts and sought economic opportunity, freedom or, perhaps just adventures in the New World. Nineteenth century immigrants escaped to the USA from religious persecution, political pressure or social injustice, or perhaps they were seeking the golden cities of America.


For conformity to and rebellion against the goals and practices of the community or ethnic group of one's birth are ways of symbolizing one's psychological or physical presence or absence.


The insistent voice of conformity incites the urge to rebel, for if one cannot leave, if it is too late to go west or to change one's name and take leave of the ethnicity or religion, one can do other things. One can drink, cultivate eccentricities, espouse contrary political opinions, take up unpopular causes, play the fool, and in many other ways demonstrate simultaneously one's commitment to and contempt for the place where one lives and the kind of life it encourages.


This realia of American culture did not appear at a moment, it was developing through the growing diversity of American culture during the whole history of American multiculturalism. Especially vividly it was shown in the cultures of so-called "minority" nationalities that are Indians, African Americans and others.