The United States is a proud ‘patchwork nation of diversity’ or so it claims – well is it?
The United States was founded on the idea of equalopportunities which attracted massive migrant populations from around the globe
in waves. There is a deep seated tradition within the United States – a conviction in fact that the United States is one of the most diverse nations in the world. I spoke to a New Yorker on the way back from the US on the plane who stated emphatically that “The US is the most diverse nation in the world and Greenwich Village (in New York) is an example of this”. Having recently toured across the United States this conviction was repeated many times.
I’d like to challenge this view – from a semiotic (cultural) viewpoint this is not true, from an economic and demographic point of view this has some merit. Let’s look at the latter first.
Our Patchwork Nation is a polemic against the idea that the US often presents itself as two nations ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’.
As a result this can lead to a ‘bipartisan view of the US’ – there are ‘two USA’s in the USA’.
In the book ‘The Patchwork Nation’ http://www.patchworknation.org/ Chinni and Gimpel explore the US and come to the conclusion there are 12 different ‘United States’ vs 2, 12 different types of community:
The 12 types of community are as follows:
- BoomTowns – towns where construction is driving jobs
- Campus & Careers – University/Educational hubs
- Emptying Nests – Retirement Centres
- Evangelical Epicenters – the ‘Bible Belts’
- Immigration Nation – diverse urban centres
- Industrial Metropolis – often ageing cities
- Military Bastions – Army base towns
- Minority Central – cities divided on racial grounds
- Monied Burbs – white middle class areas
- Mormon Outposts – self evident
- Service Worker Centres – often small medium size towns across America
- Tractor Country – rural areas across America
Our Patchwork Nation is a well researched book – it looks at a whole range of data to come to this conclusion. The interesting question comes right at the end. What holds the United States together if it is so diverse?
The answer (from the data) seems to be a positive mindset. The strong belief that with hard work the US will have a stronger, brighter, future. As a semiotician and marketeer I would go much further. From the outside this positive mindset is so deeply ingrained in ‘cultural code’ in the American media, films and movies – that it makes the United States appear mono-cultural. And given the high consumption of media in the US by these different communities – I would challenge the book’s premise – I believe that the ‘personal semiotic software’ of people in the
United States is much more strongly uniform than the economic data would suggest.
And there is only one way to find out – and that’s to produce a semiotic map of America – a map that asks the question – what does America mean to Americans? How does this meaning vary by State and how is America viewed from the outside?
Our Patchwork Nation is a great piece of research – but the really interesting question here is this – how diverse is America versus the rest of the world? America may view itself as diverse but relative to what? And if it isn’t diverse relative to the rest of the world – then America has a perception of herself, a semiotic of diversity, vs a reality of diversity.
This blog and book references are taken from http://www.patchworknation.org/&