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industry is Chicago, the nation’s second largest city.

Americanization, migration to the Sunbelt, regional convergence

The distinguishing features of these regions are disappearing. The regions are becoming more and more similar, due to

the influence of mass media.

Constant movements from farm to city, east to west, and south to north caused an intermixing of cultures.

Many older couples have moved to the South in order to enjoy retirement. Others have moved to escape problems of

urban crime, overcrowding, and high taxes.

The populations of the South and West have been growing rapidly while those of the Midwest or Northeast have grown


The political South and West is on the rise. Historically, the winners of presidential elections have been Easterners or

Midwesterners, but Southerners and Westerners have won the past five presidential elections.

The cultural dominance of the Northeast and Midwest is diminishing as cities in the South and West are gaining

reputations as important cultural centres.

The shift in economic strength to the Sunbelt does not mean that the Northeast and Midwest don’t have power


The most significant trend is a steady converging of the regions’ economic status as the formerly isolated Sunbelt

states catch up. Regional differences have not altogether disappeared, but they are significantly reduced.

Chapter 4


Background information

America is view as a land of wealth and opportunities, but there is discrimination too, because of colour, culture, age,

sexual habits. The 1960 was a decade of turbulence and social change, minorities became politically active and new

laws were passed to compensate for inequalities. However, laws alone cannot eliminate discrimination.


For America’s blacks the struggle for equal rights has been bitterly opposed. The 13 Amendment (1870s) abolished

th th

slavery, the 14 gave blacks the rights of citizenship and the 15 gave them the right to vote. Despite these

Constitutional provisions, Southern whites found ways to circumvent the intention of the amendments. Racial

prejudice was rationalized and institutionalised in the South. Blacks were denied access to public places such as

restaurants, hotels, theatres, schools. There were separate facilities marked “coloured only” for blacks, racial segregation

was legal as long as “separate but equal” facilities were provided.

With goals as desegregation, fair housing, equal employment opportunities and fair voting laws the civil rights

movement of the 1950s and 60s had the momentum of a social revolution. Dr Martin Luther King supported non-

violent tactics. This was a success in the areas of voting rights and public accommodations and facilities. In 1957

Congress passed the first civil rights legislation (it was illegal to administer voting laws in a discriminatory manner, it

was prohibited discrimination in public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels and also outlawed job

discrimination by employers and unions). Voter registration among blacks has increased and black political power has

also grown.

Affirmative actions laws match the racial and sexual composition of the working place with the composition of

society. Employers are encouraged to hire and promote blacks, women, and others who had been denied opportunities.

Critics charge that it results in reverse discrimination against qualified white males.

The inequality gap between blacks and whites has been closing but wide disparities remain in income and employment.

The poverty rate for blacks is alarmingly high and unemployment marks the breakdown of the urban black family

(lots of unmarried mothers); violence is the leading cause of death among young black men (death by murder) that

account for half of the male prisoners.

Black Americans are the largest ethnic minority, but there are also Hispanics. The increase of their immigration has

had a dramatic impact on American society (Spanish has become a major language in many areas and some cities are

officially bilingual). Some Americans fear that the country’s ethnic identity is at stake. Many people want to restrict

immigration quotas in order to preserve the cultural dominance of non-Hispanics whites, but there’s always stream of

illegal immigration across the Mexican border.

Toward the end of the 1960s Native Americans also protested. City life weakened tribal customs and bonds. Many

urban Native Americans reacted against these conditions and began to take pride in their heritage. The American Indian

Movement demanded reforms that would give them political autonomy and recognize their special cultural needs.

The elderly, the handicapped and the homosexuals are minorities that suffer from discrimination. With the number of

older Americans on the rise, the demands of the elderly are becoming harder to ignore. People have distorted

perceptions of them as weak, senile and helpless. In 1967 the Age Discrimination Act prohibited discrimination against

people between the ages of 40 and 65.

For years disabled people were institutionalized or segregated and considered incapable of working and living as

productive members society. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 required employers who receive federal aid or work on

government contracts to hire qualified disabled persons. Public schools have to admit disabled children and colleges

have to make their buildings accessible to the blind and those confined to wheelchairs. Equal rights for homosexuals

has been a more controversial issue, Conservatives fear that tolerance of homosexuality undermines the nation’s

morality, they want to conserve traditional values and social patterns. Consequently, minorities are experiencing a less

favourable political climate.

Free to succeed or fail th

An article of the Economist, 6 August 2005 concerning the situation of Blacks in America nowadays: blacks and

whites work together in tolerable harmony but beneath the surface there’s racial tension. Their problems: violent crime,

family breakdown and a failure by children to fulfil their academic potential.

Black men are more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs and are punished more severely than whites for similar

offences. The disparity between blacks and whites rate of incarceration stems from real differences in criminal

behaviour. Prejudices. Ghetto crime pays very badly: ghetto youths often grow up without positive adult role models.

Then, there’s the problem of family disintegration. Children who grew up with only one parent are far more likely to

end up poor, illiterate or in jail. The causes: some men choose not to assume paternal responsibilities.

Black people do worse at school than whites or Asians. The good news is that black students are doing better. They

blame it on bad schools and bad study habits. The schools many blacks attend are bad not because under funded or

overcrowded but because they are unruly, the lessons and the teachers are sub-standard and yet unshakable.

McMansions: not in my neighbourhood (Dallas)

McMansion is a pejorative term describing a particular style of housing that—as its name suggests—is both large like

a mansion and as culturally ubiquitous as McDonald's fast food restaurants. Why the link with McDonald’s? Because it

includes an easily noticeable deviation from traditional local or regional architectural style; cheap and mass-produced

quality; negative impacts on nature and neighbourhoods; and a diminution in individuality. Characteristics: the

impression of largeness, built of generic materials to facilitate construction. The McMansion trend gives middle/upper

middle class households access to desired luxury housing options that were previously only available to those with

much higher income and/or wealth.

Life at the top in America isn’t just better, it’s longer

Social class (the combination of income, education, occupation and wealth) plays a powerful role in struggles to

recover diseases like heart-attack. It shapes the understanding of patients illness, the support they get from their

families, their relationship with doctors and to define their ability to change their lives in order to get better. Class is a

potent force in health and longevity in the U.S. Unfortunately, the gaps are widening. As advances in medicine and

disease prevention have increased life expectancy in the U.S. the benefits have disproportionately gone to people with

education money good jobs and connections. Many risk factors for chronic diseases are nor more common among the

less educated. Smoking, physical inactivity and stress (maybe because of job insecurity and the difficulties to balance

work and family obligations) are some factors that cause heart attacks. The article speaks about different cases of heart

attack treatment: Mr Miele (upper middle class, after the heart attack he lost weight because he had the luxury of not

having to rush back to work), Mr Wilson (middle class)and Ms Gora (working class, her situation becomes worse and


Chapter 5


Statistics reveal that during the last years, there have been important changes for women:

* More women enter the labour force.

* More women have been reaching higher education levels.

* They have fewer children. In the 1950s they used to have 3 or 4 children, while in the 1980s 1 or 2.

* More and more young women are single.

* They marry at a later age.

Moreover, also women’s attitudes toward family roles and child education are changing. The greater part of women no

longer approve traditional marriages, is to say those marriages in which the man is the money-earner and the woman

the housekeeper. Actually, women prefer a marriage in which husband and wife share responsibilities of careers,

housekeeping and child rearing.

Furthermore, couples want to have fewer children.

For many years, discriminatory laws and practices prevent women from entering male-dominated spheres. Feminists

have succeeded in breaking down the barriers which avoided women having a professional achievement.

Even though inequalities still exist, American women have certainly more rights than a hundred years ago. Once, they

were not allowed to vote, buy liquors, hold certain jobs, etc…Women managed to have the right to vote in 1920.

In the 1960s there was a modern feminist movement. In The Feminine Mystique (1963), Betty Friedan wrote that

motherhood and housekeeping don’t provide the fulfilment women want. In the 1966 she founded the National

Organization for Women (NOW).

The women’s movement contributed to the creation of legislation that guarantees greater equality of the sexes. The

Equal Pay Act of 1963 assured that man and woman doing the same job, must be paid in the same way. The Equal

Rights Act of 1964 prohibited job discrimination on the basis of sex.

With this legislation, many women achieved entering several male-dominated professions, such as the Army, the Navy,

but also jobs like doctor, lawyer or accountant.

There is the story of a woman, Angela Whitiker, who managed to become a nurse despite all the difficulties. Her

family was very poor, and she saw her father only once. When she was a teenager, she started using men as a substitute

for her father, and at the age 23, she already had five children. She lived alone, because her husband had left her. So,

she was divorced and lived in very poor and of ill repute neighbour. She had a high school equivalency degree, no

career skills and no assets. She even had a gun to protect herself and her children. Then, she met a man, Vincent Allen,

who was not like all the men she had known. He had a college degree and was a police detective. Soon she and her

children were moving in with him. He encouraged her to follow her dreams, in fact he convinced her to go back to the

nursing school she had left years before. In 2001 she managed to pass the test and became a nurse. She married with

Vincent and, after some time, they started living in better conditions and with more money. We must say that she still

had some difficulties, because they were many in the family, and she still had some debts from her previous life.

However, she was happy, because she was proud of herself and because she thought that the most important thing was

the family: “without family I don’t even see a purpose”.

Chapter 6


An American Senior High School th

This article is an interview to Alan, a Quincy Senior High School (Quincy, Illinois) 12 grade student, who explains

how things work in his university.

He says you have to complete 20 credits in 4 years:

1 in math

• •

3 in history

• 3 in English

• 3 and ½ in P.E.

• ½ in health

• 1 in science

• 8 are optional

After school lessons there are several activities such as several sports, band, drama, theatre, chess or clubs such as the

German or the Spanish one.

Lessons are every day between 7.30 and 2.20 and with six-hour classes and a 30-minute break for lunch and 5 minutes

between the end of one lesson and the beginning of the following (according to Alan this is too few).

There are different kinds of tests: there are essay or multiple choice tests and quizzes for the written part and reports and

speeches for the oral one then there is homework, which is different from teacher to teacher, depending on his/her


Evaluation consists in written tests (50%), oral tests and quizzes (40%) and homework (10%). Then there is a large

paper which has to be written twice a year called “term paper” which adds into the grade.

Every student is given a handbook containing the code of conduct, with rights and responsibilities, but, despites these

rules, the atmosphere in the school is however relaxed and friendly.

The best things of this school are the teachers who are very good and the great varieties of sports and classes.

Attendance policy & Procedures

Great attendance means that students learn more and get better marks. Lack of attendance affects learning and thus the

marks get worse.

When a student reaches 12 class absence in a semester his/her mark become “incomplete”, i.e. it’s suspended until

some requirements (such as obligations set by the school) are met.

In special cases the school can excuse a student temporarily as for:

Illness of the student

• •

Serious illness in the family

• Death in family

• Approved emergency need at home

• Absences arranged between parents and school

Unexcused class-skipping will be counted as 3 days excused absence towards the limit of 12.

Tardiness is another students’ typical bad habit: when a student arrives 3 times late this will be counted a one-day


What makes great schools great


Francis Nakano, the principal of Thomas Jefferson High School (whose students are mostly Latinos and Blacks) tells

us the way succeeded in brining order to his school.

From 7.30 up to 8.00 a.m. he stands in front oh the entrance to greet the students but at 8 o’clock he locks the gates;

those who arrive late are screened by security and sent to a holding room in order to avoid disturbing the regular

classes. If a student is late thrice a month he will be charged with 20 minutes of campus cleaning up.

When Nakano arrived 2 years ago, he found a school ruled by chaos, anarchy and fear but he knew that you can achieve

a right climate for learning just when students feel safe. So he had a full fire-and-security alarm system installed and

grass and fresh plant were re-brought to the campus. There hasn’t been a fight for months and unlike before students are

no longer afraid all school day long and also annual academic banquets have been set. Even if tests score remain low,

the percentage of those who totally fail decreased and special programmes have been made for those with low marks in

order to be individually followed.

GOING FIRST CLASS: GLENVIEW IIITo attend Glenbrook South High School students spend about twice the

national average. Here a student can choose among more than available 200 courses and every year a fulltime student-

activity coordinator decides which club must be closed and which must be expanded. The use of hi-tech computers in

widespread in the campus and students can even use them to simulate scientific experiments or compose music.

There is also a peer-group counselling programme in order to help freshmen in their new life in the campus.

The college dropout boom

This article is about Andy Blevins, his choice to drop out from school and the consequences of this choice after 10





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Appunti di Inglese riguardanti nozioni generali. Nello specifico gli argomenti trattati sono i seguenti: the making of a nation, old immigration, illegal immigration, put out no flags by Matthew Rothschild,report describes immigrants as younger and more diverse by John Files, biting more than they can chew, social security: migrants offer numbers for fee.

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingue e letterature straniere
Università: Milano - Unimi
A.A.: 2010-2011

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher luca d. di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Letteratura inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Milano - Unimi o del prof Scienze letterarie Prof.

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