H i s t o r i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t a n d t r a d i t i o n f o r p e o p l e a r e a f o u n d a t i o n f o r a n a l y s i s – b a s i c c u e s t o u n d e r s t a n d i n g a c u l t u r e. I n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s, f o r e x a m p l e, a f a m i l y t r e e a n d f a m i l y l i n e a g e a f f o r d i d e n t i t y a n d p u r p o s e, p e r h a p s m o r e i n s o m e r e g i o n s t h a n i n o t h e r s. C u l t u r a l h i s t o r y g e n e r a t e s i n s i g h t i n t o n o r m s o f g r o u p s a n d i n d i v i d u a l b e h a v i o r a n d e x p l a i n s m a n y a t t i t u d e s t h a t s e e m t o b e s h a r e d b y c u l t u r a l m e m b e r s.
Rock music, a form of popular culture the world over, provides a useful example of globalizing for helping to create a universal culture today. Rock n roll originated in the United States in the 1950s largely as a fusion of rural country-and-western white music and urban black blues. Rock music has become multibillion-dollar industry worldwide, one that involves not only musicians but also musical instrument manufacturers, the electronics industry, advertising agencies, video makers, the recording industry, retailers, radio and television networks and a host of other business people who – regardless of their nationality – share the common cultural value of making and selling music at a profit.
The United States, which has always been a nation of immigrants, is currently experiencing an enormous wave of migration from Asia and Latin America that helps bring diverse cultures into daily contact.
When immigrants come to the United States, they bring their cultural beliefs and practices with them. Soccer, one of the most popular sports in the world, is becoming increasingly popular in the United States as well, partly because of the influx of immigrants from Latin American countries where soccer is the premier sport. One result: for the first time, the United States hosted the world soccer championships in 1994.
Today millions of immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Asia have brought with them their customs, language, and cuisine. Mexican-style fast-food restaurants are today a fixture across America, Chinese restaurants are commonplace, and even the most cautious diners have probably experimented with Japanese sushi or hot dishes from Thailand.
While the spread of culture around the globe has contributed to the emergence of some common shared aspects, it has also triggered a backlash of fear and intolerance. In the United States, languages such as Spanish, Chinese, or Korean have been challenged by the English only movement, just as such economic imports as Japanese cars have been challenged by the buy American slogan.
One way sociologists deal with cultural differences within a given nation is through the notion of subculture, a smaller culture that exists within a larger, dominant culture yet differs from it in some important way. An especially important basis of subculture in the U. S. today is found in racial or ethnic heritage. There are the hyphenated groups of Americans whose subcultures can be partly traced to other countries. Examples include African-Americans, Mexican- Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans and Asian- Americans. The degree to which these groups constitute subcultures varies from group to group and individual to Individual.
In other ways, the United States is not a melting pot but a culturally pluralistic society – that is, a society where large numbers of people keep part of the culture and traditions of their ancestors.