KW 4.1 Student survival guide

New to the U.S.

My list of what American society values would like this (put in no particular order).

  1. money
  2. relationships
  3. celebrities
  4. fashion
  5. food
  6. music
  7. television/electronics
  8. sports
  9. appearance
  10. cars
  11. academics
  12. partying
  13. social media

The norms and values of these things (in order corresponding to the list above) would be; spending or saving money excessively, showing public displays of affection and putting titles and statuses on relationships, raving/worshiping or following the influence of celebrities, shopping and buying/wearing expensive and “hip” clothes, eating out often/eating healthy, playing loud music (usually rap or pop), watching/recording and raving about shows (reality TV or competitive shows) or video games, making sure to be up to date on and support an American football/basketball/baseball team, obsessing over clothing or working out, driving/owning expensive and nice cars, putting emphasis on continued schooling, and drinking alcohol (sometimes excessively) and partying with friends, showing off adventures/new things/good and bad for the sake of the “poster” or for attention.

Analysis:   I think that the things I mentioned as social norms and values of America say a lot about us and our society. One thing that most of this points to is the idea of the desire to be superior by valuing things like; celebrities, money, statuses, higher fashion, loud music, winning sports teams, appearance, nice cars, and academics. All of these things can be seen as competitive and I think that is a large part in what our society is directed toward or what we have learned and been inducted into, is that everything is a competition to be better than the next person or just not as bad as the last person. I think our society is very self centered in the way that all of these things are for us as individuals and not for us as a whole as American society.

Money seems like it is the driving factor behind most things if not everything we do and almost everything on my list can relate back to money which seems to be a large factor in our society. Relationships and relationship status is a large part in American society as well, it has become where if you are not married you are single and it has diverted from a connection between two people to a status the most people desire with out even thinking of the actual intentions and meanings a relationship is supposed to hold. Again a relationship status has become just that, a status for one persons own piece of mind or social superiority. Celebrities have become not just role models (most being not very good ones) but also people of what seems like worship for the fact that they have money. They are what most people strive to be like in many ways including unrealistic almost unobtainable body looks, money, social status, and life style. Fashion has become a sign of wealth, and for many it implies social status. Although food is a necessity for basic life it has also turned into a status of social status/superiority and wealth. Music can also be related to these things because of genres that many people listen to, in fact I think many people listen to the music they do because they heard of or saw a celebrity or someone of higher social status listening to it. Television and electronics can not only symbolize wealth and status by the price tag but also by the size, newness, number of electronics, or by what you do/watch with or on them. Sports although do not symbolize wealth (unless you can own a team) they symbolize competition which is what much of our society looks for or up to. Appearance can easily be related to all of these because looking good (desirable/sexy/healthy/etc.) has become a completion among many men and women alike, it also signifies social class and wealth because those who are of “higher” social status and wealth typically look “good.” Cars have always been a sign of wealth which is often also related to social status and cars are often used competitively to see whose looks better, drives faster, or has the most accessories. Academics and higher education is often associated with more money (wealth) and are ranked according to degrees which are very competitive and the higher the degree often the “better” people think you are. Partying applies to all aspects of this because the bigger and more prestigious the party the more wealthy also only those with many friends and social status have parties due to the fact that many people are needed to throw a party. Parties are often fun and most people have the perception in their head that non-wealthy, lower class people do not have fun therefor they don’t have parties. Lastly social media is used by many wealthy, upper class/higher social status people therefore many people associate social media with that, it is also become a place for people to gain attention and people like to play the “poor me” competition.

In conclusion all of these things can relate back to or are symbols of social status/class/superiority and wealth because of the false worth we put on many of these things just because of their name or label and their interactions with people of higher class/social status/wealth. Not only do these things symbolize wealth and social status but they are signs of competition or things that people use to classify themselves (in a competitive way) among a ranking in comparison to the rest of society.

New to the campus

My list for what the campus as a society values would look like this (in no particular order)

  1. music
  2. money
  3. friends
  4. partying
  5. academics
  6. fashion
  7. cars

The norms or values of these (most of them being similar to those above) in order corresponding to this list would be; playing loud music (usually rap or pop), obsessing over financial aid or spending or saving money excessively, hanging out and socializing, drinking (sometimes excessively), studying or obsessing over scores, wearing/buying name brand or “hip/in” fashionable or expensive clothes, and driving new/nice cars or taking care to secure cars well.

Analysis: Our campus as a society puts value into these things as social norms for many reasons being that many people want to be noticed, praised, or seem superior. For instance many think that playing loud music will make them seem “cool”/superior or that it will make people notice them and if they are playing the right music that people might praise them in their music choice. Money again is highly valued for many reasons some of which transfer from the statements above and others not mentioned but in this instance money (usually in the form of financial aid) is seen as being superior (although this seems backwards) and with this money many spend it on things to get them noticed or increase their academics to increase superiority which will be discussed later. Friends are valued on our campus because they are a part in being noticed and praised, but also in some instances people associate number of friends with social superiority. Partying mostly follows the description previously stated, that the larger and more superior and fun the party is the more superior the party thrower feels. Parties also provide a good advantage for people to be noticed or praised on many levels. Academics are again a competition and the higher the degree the more superior people think of you, also a degree will give a lot of people something to notice about you and praise you for. Fashion makes people stand out, which makes people in turn notice you and it can be related to wealth which is associated with superiority. Along with this people often compliment other people’s outfits this letting that person know that they have been noticed and praised because of their high fashion. Cars as always are seen as a sign of the better the car the more superior the person must be driving it and what nice car doesn’t get noticed and the occasional praise. Even car that are not expensive or “nice” per say will be praised and noticed if well taken care of.


There are many things in which our society (in America or on campus) puts value on. Many of these seem like social norms for us but can be very confusing or different for someone not familiar with our culture, values, and norms. Although these lists may hit the big ones there are many more things that some new here would have to learn about and it would take pages and pages to write them all down and their norms and explain them. The other things not mentioned here I would either let the student experience, ask questions about when they or I notice them, or they may not even be something they would need to worry about or come in contact with. In all, every society has different values and norms and the best way to learn about them is to experience them and ask questions as they come.


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