Our country’s core values embody this idea of freedom and individuality. The significance that work and success plays in American society stems from capitalism and the start of the industrial revolution. It has created the American culture today that places emphasis on work and material comfort. However, these beliefs differ greatly from those of other countries, such as Spain.
Americans value a strong education, hard work, and a high level of material comfort which in turn demonstrates success and earns respect from others. As mentioned in the text, there are ten core values of the United States: achievement and success, individualism, hard work, efficiency, technology, material comfort, freedom, democracy, equality, and superiority. (Henslin, pg. 52-53) These values shaped the American culture including our viewpoint towards work and play. In America, work is often prioritized before family or leisure, as opposed to Spain, which has a very relaxed attitude towards work. One of the most well-known traditions in Spain is La siesta. It is a time during the day when all work ceases, typically 2-4 pm. All schools, shops, and businesses close to allow students/workers to go home, eat lunch, and rest before returning to their work or studies. This seems absurd to an average American with a 9 to 5 job. Another difference is attitude or behavior in the workplace. Typical American behavior in the workplace would be conservative which means withholding from discussing personal matters and being respectful of coworker’s personal space. On the other hand, Spaniards are very social people and it is common to discuss personal matters with people whom you aren’t acquainted with. This applies to conversations both in the workplace and out. Spaniards also use physical contact during a conversation and this is an accepted way of communicating with one another. For an American, this form of communication could be perceived as flirtatious or an invasion of personal space. Another custom of Spain that differs greatly from that of Americans is punctuality. Timeliness is one of the most important values in the business world in American society. If a worker is not on time, they are seen as irresponsible or immature and can be fired for showing up late. However, in Spain timeliness is flexible and common among workers.
The phrase ‘Work before Play’ was coined during the Industrial Revolution and sums up the mindset of that century. Our work-driven lives began during the mid-19th century when the Industrial Revolution emerged; this revolution created an economic system known as capitalism, a system that is based on the pursuit of profit through production of services. Capitalism has assimilated into the American culture and has shaped the values that we hold today; for example, some of the most important values of our society are success and hard work. No one ever questions why it is expected of us to devote our lives to education and careers, that is just what we do. Capitalism recognizes work and profit as the number one priority and leisure can only come after that; it is viewed as a reward for hard work. Consequently, capitalism has driven Americans to pursue profit and achieve efficiency; those who are successful or hold a higher power of authority earn respect and praise. Capitalism has also led people to believe that money equals happiness; therefore, people devote their lives to work when that is not necessarily the case. Capitalism is a necessary evil that has served as the foundation for our country’s core values and has promoted a new culture of desire and competition.