Work vs. Leisure
The Puritan tradition gave secular occupational activities religious sanction and viewed successful work as a sign of divine grace. This metaphysical compulsion to work was especially prevalent in the older rural culture of America and still is explicit in rural areas and certain subcultures that have not yet fully assimilated the more recent culture of leisure and conspicuous consumption. This, however, is not to say that work as a value in itself has vanished from the American scene; it merely has been diminished and now runs parallel with the new values of leisure and consumption. Thus, another typical Americanism can be observed: the seeming paradox of people engaging in hard work all year, only to spend their earnings in one or two grandiose gestures.
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