The Effects of Transnationalism on American Exceptionalism

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Tokyo, Japan
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New York City, USA

As we learned in lecture, at the time of our country’s birth there was controversy over whether or not the United States had its own unique culture. Today, American exceptionalism is hardly a topic of debate for us since we have clearly defined our culture with images of eagles, flags, footballs, and McDonald’s logos. However, due to transnationalism, these elements of our culture have spread all over the world. American icons and businesses are seen nearly everywhere and our systems, values, and visions for the future have stuck with them. Consequently, it appears that American’s now share more things with someone halfway around the world than they did a hundred years ago. Just looking at the two photos above we can see many similarities even though one was taken in Japan and the other in the United States. Since the two places look very similar it is only natural to guess that the people living around both areas share similar qualities, likes, or dislikes. Therefore, by defining ourselves as a transnational country and making it a part of our culture, is our culture actually becoming less unique?

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One thought on “The Effects of Transnationalism on American Exceptionalism

  1. While I certainly agree that American icons appearing around the world may make it seem that either America is becoming less unique or the world is becoming more Americanized, I do not believe that such icons, especially when these icons are gargantuan global chains, are so pervasive that they integrate beyond the material level. Using fast food chains as our focus, if we just do a quick search of the menus of KFC and McDonald’s in China, we would find that most of the items (except brand signatures KFC Bucket and Big Mac) have been customized or innovated not in a way to spread American values but definitely in a way to suit the Chinese food culture. As I have learned in this course, the “American” label has a much deeper meaning than one big “M” icon in another country or a plasma screen in Shibuya could portray.

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