If you’ve read a few of my posts, or follow my Instagram, you know that I enjoy traveling at a global scale. I love to explore new cultures, see new sights, and taste new cuisines. That being said, I don’t want you to think I forgot about home! Taking a step back from the great wide world, I wanted to share a thing or two about what to know about American subcultures. We all know that our international reputation isn’t exactly stellar these days, and the last thing I would want is for our international friends to feel like they can’t experience our amazing country because of the actions of a few bad (or at least misrepresentative) apples.
Understanding the Unknown USA
With liberty and justice for all! Guess what, that “all” covers a whole lot of people. The great melting pot encompasses all walks of life from an international conglomeration of backgrounds, nations, and peoples. The incredible diversity of the United States has been a heated subject in the news lately, which is a shame: our subcultures are truly one of our greatest strengths as a nation! From border to border, you can find communities of any and all demographics if you know where to look. It’s impossible to cover every community in the United States, but I wanted to cover eight of the most prominent, and spark that thirst for knowledge that’ll have you learning more on your own.
Known for deep fried food and southern hospitality, this subculture is one of the most recognizable in the United States. Geographically, you might assume that if you draw a line in the middle of the mainland that everything below that line is considered the South. Realistically, it’s more centered towards the Southeast, and sometimes the legitimacy of Florida (the southernmost state) comes into question. “The South” is more of a culture than it is a region, although proximity to one another does play a part. It is where the imagery of horse riding, flag waving, and golden farmlands comes into play in the United States. It has a tumultuous history that can sometimes paint an unappealing picture. But for better or for worse it is an intricate part of the American society as it is integral to the history of this country.
A culture deep rooted in going back to their roots! (Real roots this time, not metaphorical). The homesteading subculture in America is a movement to live off the land rather than the new urban model. Here there are farms, usually less than 10 acres, of families that make, produce, and eat their own food. They believe in being connected to what they consume, and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of modernity. There are plenty of people practicing this culture all over the country, but if you want to look for the highest concentrations then check out the likes of Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
The West Coast
The West Coast culture (although commonly referred to as just Californian culture) is often noted as a sharp contrast to the South. Mostly due to its rather liberal, and free spirited nature. It is composed of many different influences, the strongest perhaps coming from Mexican and Asian cultures. The West, and California specifically is noted as one of the top most racially diverse states in the United States. It shares a close border with Mexico, as well as being the closest destination to Asia, which is commonly referred to when talking about the diverse nature of the culture. The West Coast is commonly regarded as a place for good vibes, good times, and golden coasts!
While no one paragraph could ever do the years of history this culture has justice, it is important to note that there is a rich Native American scene still found in America. The Native American people are spread across the country, and typically live on reservations or in communities with like-minded subcultures surrounding them. They are the link to the history of the United States before its formation, and have a beautiful, intricate history that has survived generations. It is a vital part of the American culture as it came to be.
Having survived for centuries in tradition, The Amish is one of the most notable American subcultures that has not changed much over the years. This community is known for adopting the simple life. Living in towns centered around the reluctance to incorporate new age technology, they have a greater focus on farming and home life. The Amish are often identifiable by their plain dress, and their horse drawn carriages riding through towns rather than cars. Primarily, the Amish are found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, although there are settlements all over the country.
As one of the biggest gatherings of people of Cuban descent outside Cuba iteself, Miami is unique in harboring its own lively subculture. Little Havana is a mixture between American ideals, and Cuban heritage. It is a thriving part of one of the most popular cities in the United States and essential to any discussion of American subcultures. In Little Havana, visitors can get some of the finest Cuban-American fusion food, as well as party in some Latin themed businesses that run throughout the city. Miami in itself is already known for having a thriving Spanish community, but that which is found in Little Havana is a direct example of an American subculture.
Campus and Collegiate Culture
This one can be found all across the world, however, American’s subculture of college does vary from other manifestations. It is marked by riveting college football games and Greek Fraternity and Sorority life, as well a later matured culture wherein Internships and academia come into focus. College culture is a fascinating mix of the varying stages of “growing up” all found in one area. The United States is home to a wide expanse of collegiate options insofar that there is no one ‘perfect’ example of this subculture. However, there are a few different branches. Such as the Ivy League schools that can be found predominantly in the Northeast, the Football Schools, and the Tech and/or Engineering Schools. All of these provide a deeper look into the smaller classifications of subculture.
Just as America is home to a “Southern” and “Western” subculture, the Northeast has their own community values. New England is the term that is used to talk about the Northeast. Namely these states: Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire. These were the communities that still to this day feature a heavy British influence that speaks of the former days of colonialism when the United States’ territories were under the United Kingdom’s command. It is typically characterized stunning fall seasons, cute coastal towns, and yeah, more than a few accents!
Simply reading through this list, it is easy to see where American subcultures differ. However, it is important to note that they share some pretty important commonalities. All are sub-sections of the greater American culture, and provide some insight on how that idea even came to be. The “American culture” is really just a fusion blend of all the different influences its diverse population has brought or still brings to this day! As I’ve said time and time again, exploring the world is just as important as exploring your own back yard. Keep an eye open the next time you visit a new neighborhood, who knows what you’ll discover when you wander and ponder!