The Amish people originated from Anabaptist in the 16th century Europe. The Anabaptist is a religion that came about during the reformation era. Before this time, Europe was traditionally united under one church. It was connected with the government and political issues. Reformation emerged, people took different stands with reformers, such as Martin Luther stepping in and making changes to the church structure and doctrine. The name “Amish” originated from Jacob Amman who formed that association, which was transformed to maintain the old practices of the Mennonites. Amish culture is dictated and directed by set rules called the Ordnung, which form the basis of their faith although they vary from a community to a community. The rules state all aspects of life for an Amish person, including family life, dress mode, and farming methods. Religion is one of the vital aspects of manner of life for an Amish.
On the other hand, the Americas are the residents of the UnitedState of America. In this country live people of different nationalities. Due to this, American people do not equate their nationality with the ethnical factor, but with residency. Almost all Americans are immigrants apart from the Native American population. Regardless of its mixed composition, the culture held in common by the majority of American people is known as mainstream American culture. This culture mainly results from the customs of the Western European immigrants, influence of the African American culture, and is in close contact with the Mexican culture. Mixture of cultures or cultural ideas defines the way in which different generations of America have celebrated and exchanged unique cultural attributes. American culture is dominating across the world although it is a country of immigrants resulting in mixture of cultures all over the world (American Family Traditions, 2009).
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In this regard, this research concerns a cross-cultural comparison between the Amish and American culture. The issues addressed include culture, religion, technology, and family structures (courting, marriage, and funeral).
Interaction between Culture and Religion
In terms of religion and culture, there is a close connection between these two branches because religion is greatly influenced by cultural background. Religion cannot be better expressed in other forms than through a particular cultural background. The Amish people have one religion based on the Ordnung. It is the most vital aspect in their lives which defines why they prefer to live separate from the leading cultures and to safeguard their old traditions (Powell, 2012). Until this decade, their faith and behaviors have not changed much. The American people find the Amish weird because they do not believe in having phones and electricity at their homes, owning cars; they travel in horse-drawn buggies, and do not exercise the right to vote. This shows how comfortably they prefer to live their everyday life.
Education is completed in eight years in the Amish community. This is dissimilar to the American normal way of education, where age or years of study are not factored in the mainstream. They believe learning for more than eight years leads to supremacy, which is forbidden in this community. The American way involves acquiring knowledge first through learning before securing any job. When Amish children reach their teen stage, they are advised to try traveling around, for the world to teach them (Powell, 2012). This differs from the American style where more discipline seminars and social norms are popularized among teens. An Amish woman or a girl wears long sleeves and long skirts with basic decoration, always covered with cape and apron without any patterns and jewelry, as dictated by the Rules of the Ordnung. They do not cut their hair, but fix it with a black bun on the back of the head mostly during praying; the married women wear a white covering on their heads whereas the single wear black ones. Their men wear black suits, shoes, and socks, shirts with suspenders straight-cut coat, and broad fall trousers without belt. When they marry, they grow beards and do not have mustache, whereas the single wear mustaches. They believe their unique mode of dressing promotes humility and separation from the world and conveys their faith. On the contrary, in the American culture, women have a tendency to stay more true to themselves by wearing normal clothes that fit them every day, regardless of part of the country they come from. Men and boys wear casually, i.e., jeans and t- shirts; but when it comes to a formal business, they always wear suites depending on the occasion. Secularization has influenced religion in the American community playing a less significant role in socialization, fetching a norm for some Christians to attend churches on Sabbath, during weddings, and funerals, whereas the Amish people go to houses of religion every other Sunday (American Family Traditions, 2009).
The Amish people are reluctant to any innovation, which they believe makes the family unit grow weak (Powell, 2012). The Americans consider it impracticable to live with old ethics while there is room for innovations and change, such as cars, electricity. The Amish prefer to live without any gadgets even when they are readily available. In such a way, they separate themselves from outside influences and preserve their faith. Sometimes, the use of technology is excused when there are differences between some Amish orders; for example, modern orders, which allow people to use telephone at their home and access their websites.
Family Structures, Courting, Marriage, Funeral
A family in the Amish society is mainly large, extended, and mostly considered as a social unit (Powell, 2012). Divorce or birth control measures are prohibited; separations are very rare thereby explaining why they maintain large families with much interaction. These families rely on agriculture because they do not allow industrialization. They stay together, share and keep close contacts. Americans usually consider the nuclear family, which is normally small with maximum of two children although others have more or less depending on personal preferences. Independence is reflected in relatives living far from others in their own homes. The Americans like their self-supporting undertakings, plans, and achievements, which are unshared (American Family Traditions, 2009). Courting practices in Amish community resemble those of the American culture because the youths are permitted to meet and share at parties or churches. In the Amish society, teenagers are free to mingle with very little parental interference although they are not allowed to court someone who does not profess their faith. However, in the American culture, they do not mind about ethnicity. Nevertheless, the Amish teenage youths must be under close observation of the family and church principles the same as the Americans must. After the couple has decided to marry, their marriage is announced several weeks before the event. Usually, a wedding ceremony takes place in churches in November and December like in the American culture. Amish people bury their dead in three days; men are buried in their Sunday clothes and women in their wedding dresses, without any eulogies, praise, and flowers (Powell, 2012). This differs from the American style because there are no stipulated days for funerals; eulogies, flowers, and praises are present, although in both cultures the church conducts the masses.
Gender and Family Role
Similar to the American style, men are the head of families in the Amish community. Males educate young boys, whereas women educate young girls. In Amish, only single women secure jobs, but the married take care of family chores. The working children give their earnings to their fathers to support their families. These children live close to their families. Additionally, unlike Americans, the Amish community respects chain of command when the males provide headship (Powell, 2012). Modernization challenges gender in today's world, and it becomes harder to exist, especially for the females.
Conflict, Cooperation, and Decision-making
In terms of conflict, cooperation, and decision-making, unlike the Americans, the Amish people respect the Ordnung, hierarchy of religion, male authority, collaboration and accountability. They avoid any means of being thrown out of the society because of infringing their religious guiding principles, such as divorce. If any person violates the rules, he is shunned by friends, family, and community at large; but this decision is made after a number of warnings (Hehrer, 2009).
Communication and Interaction
Communication in the Amish community is established first through the family. Then through the church, which provides people with the communicative activities. On the contrary, the Americans are straight, and advocate for direct and simple communication, which has been facilitated by modern devices, namely telephone.
A Gemeinschaft is a community, which still maintains a way of life that is joined together by the doctrine of old ethics and its objective of total withdrawal from all technological aspects that prevent them from focusing on religion and social interaction. It is also referred to as close community. The current decade of modernization has led to an economical development, which is under the influence of industrialization instead of agriculture – usual way of life. This gave birth to a corrupted society with no ethical morals as well as to independence called the modern style or American style, commonly known as the Gesellschaft society (Hehrer, 2009). The Amish community is a good example of a Gemeinschaft community living in a Gesellschaft society. Their way of life and religion promotes importance of humility, modesty, interactions, family bond, and faith, which help them to preserve their traditions. Even though their lives are mainly controlled by the opinions of others, they can derive comfort from knowing that they are a part of an intimate group.
The American and Amish cultures have more differences than similarities. These differences range from their origin, residence, family life, and religion. For instance, the Amish people have an eight-year education system, whereas age or years of study are not factored in the Americans’ mainstream. The family plays a big role in the Amish community because this is the place where all decisions are first made, whereas the Americans advocate for direct and simple communication. The Amish people are more reserved and devoted to their traditions; the Americans are modernized, especially because of technology. The major similarity for both groups consists in the religion because it is considerably influenced by the cultural background. However, religious beliefs are different and most notably for the Amish whose religion is based on the Ordnung. The Americans have diverse religious beliefs. The Amish people are an exemplar of a Gemeinschaft community because they have preserved their old ethics and values without being influenced by technology.
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