American Ways: A Guide for Foreigners in the United States / Edition 2

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Traveling to America soon? If the thought of extended exposure among Americans seems daunting, let American Ways: A Guide for Foreigners in the United States help you prepare. In this revised edition, Gary Althen has added material to provide the clearest insights yet into the American psyche and culture, including the rewritten chapter Ways of Reasoning, which provides one of the best-organized and clearest presentations of American thought processes to date, and a new chapter on race and ethnic relations that compares how foreign visitors and Americans alike perceive American subcultures. Within most chapters Althen has included a new section, Suggestions for Foreign Visitors, adding another practical dimension to the book. American Ways covers all the basic needs of the foreign student or businessperson, covering the trends and customs of day-to-day activities like driving, shopping and verbal and nonverbal communication as well as the more esoteric customs regarding cultural values, politics, education, religion and male-female relationships. As a comprehensive introduction to American culture, American Ways will prepare you for living, studying and working in America. It's that little tiny stuff that can affect how people get along....[T]here are lots and lots of different [cues] on an underlying, unspoken level.-Gary Althen Althen gives advice to foreign visitors to the U.S. that is intended to help them understand the motivations, attitudes, communication styles, and actions of Americans. Emphasizing the interpretation of observed behavior, he covers ways of reasoning and American ideas about politics, family life, education, religion, the media, social relationships, racial and ethnic diversity, male-female relationships, sports and recreation, driving, shopping, personal hygiene, and organizational and public behavior. Over-generalization is an understandable danger in such a work as this, but Althen does make an effort to emphasize that there are variations among Americans, while he concentrates on the similarities.-Book News ContentsPreface to the Second EditionAcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I: General Ideas About American Culture1 American Values and Assumptions 2 The Communicative Style of Americans3 Ways of Reasoning4 Differences in CustomsPart II: Specific Aspects of American Life5 Politics6 Family Life7 Education8 Religion9 The Media10 Social Relationships11 Racial and Ethnic Diversity12 Male-Female Relationships13 Sports and Recreation14 Driving15 Shopping16 Personal Hygiene17 Getting Things Done18 Behavior in Public Places19 Studying20 BusinessPart III: Coping With Cultural Differences21 Some Helpful Ideas22 Activities for Learning About American CultureConclusionBibliographyAbout the Author
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781877864995
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.59 (w) x 8.61 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Althen served for thirty years as a foreign student adviser at the University of Iowa, many of them as director of the Office of International Students and Scholars. He has been president of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and received its Marita Houlihan Award for his contributions to the field of international educational exchange. He is the author of The Handbook of Foreign Student Advising and is author, editor, or coauthor of many publications concerning international education and intercultural affairs. He has lived and worked in Peru and Malaysia.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition xi
Acknowledgments xvii
Introduction xix
On Understanding xx
How Much Generalizing Is Acceptable? xxii
On Asking "Why?" xxvi
How Americans See Themselves xxvii
How Americans See Foreigners xxix
On Describing Americans xxxi
Part I General Ideas about American Culture 1
Chapter 1 American Values and Assumptions 3
Individualism, Freedom, Competitiveness, and Privacy 5
Equality 14
Informality 16
The Future, Change, and Progress 18
Goodness of Humanity 19
Time 22
Achievement, Action, Work, and Materialism 24
Directness and Assertiveness 27
Chapter 2 The Communicative Style of Americans 33
Preferred Discussion Topics 34
Favorite Forms of Interaction 37
Depth of Involvement Sought 40
Channels Preferred 42
Level of Meaning Emphasized 53
Chapter 3 Ways of Reasoning 55
The Context 56
The Point 58
The Organization 60
The Evidence 61
The Cause 65
Chapter 4 Differences in Customs 67
Part II Specific Aspects of American Life 75
Chapter 5 Politics 77
The Rule of Law 80
The Ideal of Compromise 81
Politics Apart 82
Chapter 6 Family Life 85
What Foreigners Notice 86
The Changing Family 88
Raising Children 90
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 98
Chapter 7 Education 101
Guiding Ideals 102
Social Forces Affecting American Education 110
Issues Facing American Schools 113
Advantages and Disadvantages 115
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 117
Chapter 8 Religion 119
The General Context 120
Religion and Individual Americans 124
Exceptions 125
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 127
Chapter 9 The Media 129
What Is American about the American Media? 130
Americans' Views of Their Media 133
Misconceptions the Media Promote 136
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 139
Chapter 10 Social Relationships 141
Meeting New People 143
The American Concept of Friendship 145
Relationships Prescribed by Roles 148
Courtesy, Schedules, Gifts 150
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 153
Chapter 11 Racial and Ethnic Diversity 155
What Foreign Visitors See 156
How Americans View Race and Ethnic Relations 162
Austin, Texas: A Case Study 167
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 169
Chapter 12 Male-Female Relationships 173
Influences on Male-Female Relationships 174
Male-Female Relationships in Various Settings 179
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 186
Chapter 13 Sports and Recreation 187
Sports 188
Recreation 191
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 193
Chapter 14 Driving 195
General Information 196
Traffic Laws 197
Attitudes about Driving 198
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 201
Chapter 15 Shopping 203
Advertising 204
Pricing 206
Customer-Clerk Relationships 206
Sales Tactics 208
Procedures for Returning and Exchanging 209
Private Sales 210
Precautions for Shoppers from Abroad 210
Chapter 16 Personal Hygiene 213
The Basics 214
Variations 217
Other Issues Concerning Hygiene 218
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 219
Chapter 17 Getting Things Done in Organizations 221
Misconceptions 222
Characteristics of U.S. Organizations 224
Suggestions for Dealing with U.S. Organizations 226
Chapter 18 Behavior in Public Places 229
Rules for Behavior in Public Places 229
Communication Behaviors 232
Suggestions for Foreign Visitors 234
Chapter 19 Studying 235
Assumptions Underlying the Higher Education System 236
Student-Student Relationships 237
Student-Professor Relationships 239
Roommate Relationships 241
Plagiarism 244
Suggestions for Foreign Students 245
Chapter 20 Business 247
Doing Business in the United States 250
The Global Economy 256
Suggestions for Foreign Businesspeople and Future Businesspeople 257
Part III Coping with Cultural Differences 259
Chapter 21 Some Helpful Ideas 261
Expectations 262
Personality Characteristics 262
Traits and Situations 264
Culture Shock and Stages of Adjustment 265
D-I-E 267
Chapter 22 Activities for Learning about American Culture 271
Ask Questions 272
Learn and Practice Local English 273
Take Field Trips 274
Talk with Experienced Foreigners 280
Keep a Journal 281
Learn the Names of Local and Institutional VIPs 281
Read, Reflect 282
View Yourself as a Teacher 284
Conclusion 285
Bibliography 289
About the Author 295
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2002

    A Good Read!

    Gary Althen¿s richly detailed guide shines a psychological, cultural and sociological spotlight on American customs, values, attitudes and behavior. Organized into 22 chapters that cover just about every aspect of American life, the book hits you with its uncanny insight, accuracy and honesty. Although he doesn¿t completely avoid stereotyping (and doesn¿t seem at all bothered by it), Althen presents the good, the bad and the quirky. He explains the ¿why¿ behind American attitudes and manners. Even though this is a guide for foreigners visiting, doing business in or living in the United States, we from getAbstract also suggest this book to Americans. It¿s an eye-opener about the national personality, or the perceived national personality, from naïvete to individualism. As Scotsman Robert Burns wrote, ¿Oh wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us.¿ Well, here¿s your chance.

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