Nowadays, traditional social values that spur the American economy include equal opportunity, achievement and success, material comfort, activity and work, practicality and efficiency, science, enterprise, etc. (U.S. Institutions Survey, n.d.).
Analyzing the impact of values on the American economy, Barkan defines them as “judgments of what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable”(Barkan, 2011). The author highlights individualism, competition and commitment to work ethics. The American society places great emphasis on the rights of an individual and extols the use of law in solving a wide range of problems. Competition and entrepreneurial spirit are central values accepted by the American standards and they are widely promoted in the business world. People believe that competition is extremely beneficial, because it stimulates people to work hard and create new projects. The next top value is work ethics, which means diligence as an internal belief. It is considered to be the key to success (Barkan, 2011).
Nevertheless, these great values have their own drawbacks. Americans pay extreme attention to the individual and often use law to solve problems protecting their rights. Individualism often causes numerous lawsuits in the U.S. that cannot affect the American economy in a positive way. Competition encourages harmful behavior when increasing profits are made at the expense of others. As for work ethics, the Great Recession of 2007 revealed the fact that even hard-working and successful people could be browned-off one day because of an economic crisis (Barkan, 2011).
In fact, values are constantly evolving. The Public has changed its views regarding the role of women in family and business, as well as its opinion about some major racial issues. The prestige of education is a hallmark of the twenty-first century. Nowadays, a majority (53%) of Americans are changing their attitude to various aspects of their lives. The general public considers unequal economic and social chances in life (53%) , discrimination against minorities (73%), the increasing interference of the government in people’s lives (66%), as well as the ineffective 2009 health care reform to be the burning problems of the American society (Jones & Cox, n.d.).
In conclusion, the American society has acquired profound ideas about what is considered good, right and preferable. The key traditional values spurring the economy of the United States include the pursuit of profit, individualism, competition and commitment to work ethics. However, freedom is the core value of the American society.