Mexican Culture: The Diversity Of The Rich Culture
As reported by the Commisceo Global Consultancy, “Mexicans are very aware of how each individual fits into each hierarchy – be it family, friends, or business,” (“Mexico,” 2019). Accordingly, strict social hierarchies exist, making the difference between social classes extremely stark (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). The hierarchy of dominant Mexican culture strongly influences ideas of respect and authority. Due to the extreme strictness of social strata, many collective decisions are made by the ranking member of the group (“Mexico,” 2019). People socially inferior to the ranking member are expected to value the wisdom and choices of their superior.
The Mexican social hierarchy remains a daunting obstacle to anyone wishing to rise above their current cultural placement (“Mexico,” 2019). The hierarchy’s vertical structure coupled with a heavy emphasis on rank condemn any attempt at mobility as rude to social superiors. When applying Hofstede’s dimensions, Mexican society receives an 81 as a power distance score (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). To many Mexicans, their rigid social structure represents an unchangeable pillar of life, a moral necessity for a civilized society. Again referencing Hofstede’s dimensions, Mexico’s dominant culture warranted a score of 82 in the realm of uncertainty avoidance, indicating that members of the hierarchy may remain socially stagnant motivated by fear of the unknown (“What About Mexico?,” 2019).
The economics of Mexico proves a subject of study severely intertwined with the Mexican hierarchy (“Mexico,” 2019). Social class’s influence on economics appears especially evident in employment and job opportunities; members of higher social strata tend to hold professional positions while people falling in lower classes typically work in informal such as street vending (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). Over fifty percent of Mexicans find themselves in the lesser category of informal employment.
An incredibly large wage gap exists between the upper class and the lower class (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). Following financial disasters during the 1990s, unemployment rates have soared, and even formal, professional jobholders often struggle to earn a living wage. Thriving slums abound on the outskirts of cities where the lowest ranks of the social hierarchy attempt to survive without basic resources. However, members of the upper and middle classes can typically afford a much more accommodating lifestyle. In fact, due to the desperation of the lower class and affordability of unskilled, manual labor, lower class workers often find themselves in the homes of the more fortunate performing tasks such as babysitting, cleaning, and other domestic services. This glaring case of income inequality does not go unnoticed by stakeholders in the higher end of the hierarchy, however. The Mexican idea of simpatía, meaning “sympathy,” guides members of higher social classes to show charity to the less fortunate.
The family unit plays another critical role in Mexican economics (“Mexico,” 2019). Because families in Mexico feel obliged to lend financial aid to their relatives, it is not unusual for family members to finance houses, cars, and other expensive purchases for their loved ones, even extended family members.
Socioeconomic status in Mexican culture may be decided by a combination of factors (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). Although socioeconomic standing, regional background, and family relations are often involved in the determination of an individual’s social status, race tend to serve as the major test of one’s cultural value. Since Mexicans with darker skin trace most of their genetic lineage to indigenous peoples, these populations are commonly excluded from the wealth of the light-skinned members of the upper class, an elite minority owing much of their financial brawn to their European ancestors.
Success in Mexican culture boasts a multifaceted definition (“What About Mexico?,” 2019). Being an extremely indulgent society, social success in Mexico may be directly related to wealth. Having extravagant amounts of money to own a plethora of material objects is viewed as a universal financial goal for all members of the culture. The Mexican culture also embodies many masculine traits, so victorious competitors additionally partake in Mexico’s primary idea of success. Furthermore, successful members of Mexican society should exemplify masculine cultural characteristics such as assertiveness, decisiveness, and an unwavering dedication to work.
Membership in Mexico’s culture is often assigned by lineage since Mexican society emphasizes the importance of familial relationships (“Mexico,” 2019). Although the family lies at the core of Mexican culture, foreigners may gain access into the social hierarchy by assimilation into the cultural structures. Familiarizing oneself with Mexican customs usually elicits a warmer, more welcoming response from members of this culture. Additionally, an individual should understand their position on the social hierarchy to avoid being viewed as an irreverent outsider. Although assimilation sometimes results in membership in the Mexican culture (“Mexico Guide,” 2019), the people of Mexico are notably resistant to globalization and remain vigilant guardians of their national heritage (“Mexican Culture,” 2019).
In Mexico, like many other countries, religion is an important aspect (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). However, there is no official religion in Mexico. In spite of the absence of a state-sponsored religion, over 80% of the population identifies as Roman Catholics. Catholicism is easily observed around people’s homes and in public places by festivities and the placement of idols. One statue that is prominently seen in Mexico is the patron saint of Mexico, La Virgen de Guadalupe. La Virgen de Guadalupe, or Virgin of Guadalupe in English, is similar to the Virgin Mary but with a distinct Mexican flair. Some of the community still participates in Catholic celebrations even though they are non-religious. There are other religions within Mexico, which include Pentecostals, Evangelical Christians, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Another important aspect of the culture in Mexico is family (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). Family is considered one of the most important aspects of life in Mexico. The family relationships are very close. Not only is the immediate family close, but the extended family also plays an integral role in the life of the individual. The typical immediate, or nuclear, family consists of three to five people. The entire family tends to have a major influence on an individual. The individual learns a sense of identity, community, and support from the family. In return, the individual is expected to be loyal and committed to their family. They are also expected to put the family’s interest before their own interest. Furthermore, the family often has a strong influence over who its members will date and eventually marry.
Dating and marriage is a prominent aspect of Mexican culture (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). Partners often meet one another through academic studies or social events at cafes or bars. Sometimes they meet at pre-arranged places. Mirroring views held in dominant American culture, men are expected to act like gentlemen in the relationship. One gentlemanly trait that is often displayed is the man escorting the woman before a date to ensure her safety en route the café or bar. When in public, public displays of affection (PDA) are common; however, when still in the dating stage and around family members PDA is avoided. When it is time for the man and woman to get engaged, the man usually asks the parents for permission to marry their daughter. Marriage is seen as very important in Mexico and most commonly happens when people are in their mid-twenties or later. However, in rural areas, some are seen getting married at a younger age. Children often remain living with their parents until they get married.
The gender roles in Mexican culture vary depending on region, socioeconomic class, and whether it is a rural or urban area. Typically, the man of the house, which is usually the oldest male or the father in the household, is the primary income earner and the one who makes the decisions regarding the family. In some traditional household, the mom will even answer to her adult sons. If a woman is the head of the house, she is typically a widow or single for some reason. The women of this culture are expected to dedicate themselves to the family by being the one who does the cooking and cleaning, even if they are also employed. It is believed that a “good” wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, or sister should feel pride and fulfillment in this being their role. Chivalry is important in Mexican culture. Men are expected to open doors for their significant other, pay her expenses, make romantic gestures, buy them gifts, and generally behave like a gentleman.
Mexican art is a beautiful representation of their elaborate culture (“Fine Mexican Art,” n.d.). It is full of color, allowing for distinctive pieces that tell the story of their heritage. Art history begins with early civilizations like the Mayans and Olmecs. Over time, the craft evolved from being used for religious reasons to being utilized for political power. One example of Mexican art is paintings, which developed from the Mayans and are a valuable source of art to this day. Mexican culture has produced many famous artists, but most influential of them all would have to be Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo was a famous artist known for her beautiful self-portraits. She made them distinctive by always including a unibrow and mustache. She was largely influenced by nature and Mexican artifacts.
Beyond formal paintings, Mexican folk art is popular for people with no formal training (“Fine Mexican Art,” n.d.). Items used for folk art include natural pieces like clay, wood, and stone. Mexican folk art is most known for its ray of color and intense detail, most commonly seen in Day of the Dead decorations. Popular decorations like sugar skulls and face masks are traditional pieces used to help celebrate this holiday. Mexican art also includes pottery, film, and photography. The vastness of the art they produce is both fascinating and unique.
Mexican literature is famous for the works of many influential authors (. However, most of the literature has been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. Many writers and works were influenced by the political history of Mexico. Original literature dates back to Mesoamerica, but after Spanish colonization writers began to lean to a more current view of Mexican culture. Therefore, most literature includes a mix of both. Writers of Mexican literature are considered the voice of reason for the people as they often write about key political topics. There are several Mexican writers that have largely influenced the culture. One famous writer, poet, and diplomat is Octavio Paz, who was coincidentally the grandson of a writer. Paz was nineteen years old when his first collection of poems was published, and from then until his death on April 9, 1998, he had many famous works. His poem Entre la Piedra y la Flor depicted the current issue surrounding harsh treatment of Mexican peasants by cruel landlords. Additionally, Paz wrote a book on Mexican culture, and co-founded a literary journal. Other influential providers of Mexican literature were Salvador Elizondo, Rosario Castellanos, and Elena Poniatowska. Each greatly contributed to the history and shaping of Mexico.
There are several different traditional types of music in Mexican culture, such as Banda, Norteno, Ranchera, Corrido, and Opera. Unlike Banda, which is usually made up of wind instruments (mostly brass) and percussion, Norteno which is related to polka, or Corrido, which are songs that tell a story, Ranchera and Operas have more of a historical background in this culture. Ranchera music dates back to before the Mexican Revolution and in modern days is closely associated to mariachi groups. Classical music and opera, since the first production in 1711, in Mexico is considered to be one of the first to contribute to the New World culture.
An artifact is an item made for cultural and historical interest. One Mexican artifact is the molcajete, which is used for grinding food products. This item dates back to Mesoamerican cultures, and true molcajetes are made of basalt. They are round in shape and have three legs. Though sombreros originated in Spain, the Mexican variation has a higher, conical crown and a wide brim. They can be worn by all classes of people, and are mainly worn during times of celebration. Sombreros were originally created as a form of protection from the sun. One artifact that displays the beauty of Mexican art is Talavera pottery. Talavera pottery is a type of tin glazed earthenware. Only six colors, that must come from natural pigments, may be used for Talavera pottery. One familiar artifact is the serape, which a like a blanket. It is full of color and has fringed ends. Recently, serapes have become so popular that popular fashion has embraced hoodies that bear a strong resemblance to the serape. The Mexican flag is a significant artifact of Mexican culture. Its colors, red, white, and green, symbolize the colors of the army that gave them their freedom. In the center is a coat of arms representing their capital, Mexico City. This flag is so important because it is a daily reminder of where they came from. Overall, artifacts are an integral piece of culture because they carry on the information of a culture.
Though Mexico was greatly influenced by the Spanish, the population remains incredibly diverse (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). Before the arrival of Europeans, Mexico was home to the Olmecs, Mayans, and Toltecs, as well as several other Mesoamerican civilizations. In the sixteenth century, Spanish colonization defeated the existing empires and pushed for the populations to mix. The greater part of the population identifies as “‘mestizo’, meaning they share a mixture of European and Amerindian heritage to some degree, while approximately 21.5% self-identifies as indigenous,” (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). They have worked to blend Mesoamerican history with modern trends. So, “the Mexican practice of traditional Spanish and Catholic customs tends to be particularly unique and colourful,” (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). One aspect they struggle with is accepting that they are a product of both positive and negative occurrences, namely the conflict between their ancestors, the Spanish colonists and Mesoamericans. Because of this, Mexicans have pride in the fact that they came together and faced adversity. The influence of the Spanish and Mesoamericans will continue to impact Mexican culture.
Modesty is important to Mexican culture especially for women because the way women dress shows a sign of respect and patience (. There are different styles of clothing depending on if you are wealthy or poor. Wealthy people dress elegantly according to international clothing standards and wear expensive watches and jewelry. Dress codes are very strict in Mexico, especially at work and school because having kids dress modestly at a young age will prepare them to always dress modest. In primary and secondary school, students wear uniforms and since colonial times, the use of sandals has been associated with the countryside, poverty, and Indians.
Although cutting-edge fashion is typically associated with other cultures, Mexican culture boasts many contributions to international fashion (“Mexican Culture: Customs and Traditions”, 2017). Famous designers Jorge Duque and Julia y Renata both draw from their Mexican heritage to design outfits that are often displayed in the world-renowned Mexico Fashion Week. Although Mexican tradition still influences Mexican fashion, international trends have also taken hold in Mexican clothing stores as many middle and upper-class Mexicans often showcase styles very similar to fashions in America and the West.
Tradition is critical to Mexican culture as articles of dress often pay homage to Mexico’s rich beginnings (“Mexican Culture: Customs and Traditions,” 2017). The huipil is one of the most common types of clothing worn by Mexican women. A traditional style of dress, the huipil of yesteryear was made from cotton and accented with brilliantly colored, but sparse, embroidery. Modern huipils frequently showcase more intricate ornamentations composed of symbolic pictures and patterns. Skirts also hold an exalted pedestal in traditional Mexican dress (Bonfiglio, 2019). Although the name for the skirt varies between dialects, most Mexican skirts are sewed using brightly colored fabrics. Elegant and flowing, skirts are often embellished with showy displays of embroidery much like the huipil. Additionally, makeup is essential for women in Mexican culture since looking mature is respected (“Mexican Culture”, 2019). Women in Mexico typically believe that they should always wear make-up because they represent their husband; if they make their husband look bad, then it is a disgrace to their family name. Furthermore, since tradition is extremely important in Mexican culture, notions of modesty often correlate to traditional styles of dress. Because traditional dress is highly modest, especially for women, modesty comes naturally to members of Mexican culture.
Traditional styles of dress for men proves equally as fascinating as the fashions of their female counterparts. Communication and gesturing are different in a variety of cultures and in Mexican culture there are strict guidelines to follow when talking to someone (“Mexican Culture,” 2019). People in the United States are accustomed to communicating in a direct or straightforward manner. However, Mexicans are subtle when it comes to communicating and gesturing because their culture holds harshly speaking one’s mind in a negative light. Because talking loudly is also considered as rude by members of Mexican culture, loud speaking constitutes an intolerable social faux pas. The use of words like “thank you” (gracias) and “please” (por favor) are basic words that are will help a person seem polite while speaking to Mexicans. Native Mexicans do not mind helping teach novice Spanish speakers express their ideas with politeness and elegance as they appreciate efforts made by people outside of their cultural ingroup to respect their rich and cherished culture. In Mexican culture, it is considered rude to address a person by his or her first name unless you have received permission to do so. Furthermore, when waving, one should always wave palm-down; in Mexican culture, it is considered disrespectful to wave palm-up. There are a variety of do’s and don’ts when it comes to Mexican culture and their communication etiquette. Lastly, Mexicans value their own culture because they were raised with variety of values and they appreciate when other cultures try to accept their ways and proper etiquette.
In every culture, there are many types of language patterns, for example, slang, refusals, formality and how you ask a question. Spanish is the main language in Mexican culture but there are certain dialects that natives like to use. When speaking in Spanish, Mexicans use a lot of diminutives to convey their meaning in a softer or more affectionate way (“Cultural Atlas”, 2019). There are various forms of expression in Spanish that communicate by using different levels of courtesy and formality. Spanish is a difficult language to learn because there are rules, verbs and nouns used for different types of words. Language is not the only pattern observed in Mexican culture because non-verbal characteristics also play a role in Mexican culture. Personal space is important to Mexicans because maintaining a great amount of distance from another person can seem unfriendly. Also, Mexicans tend to use many hand and arm gestures throughout conversation. People belonging to indigenous groups tend to have a particularly reserved and shy demeanor around foreigners or urban Mexicans. Furthermore, the way Mexicans communicate, and their language patterns are different from other cultures but unique in a variety of ways. Communication is key in every situation and the language patterns they use are significantly important when holding a conversation in the Mexican culture.
Mexican Culture. (2019). Retrieved from https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/mexican-culture/family-03f25d47-e192-4ca4-b381-5d1f6ee97751
Mexico – Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. (2019, January 1). Retrieved from https://www.commisceo-global.com/resources/country-guides/mexico-guide
What About Mexico?. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.hofstede- insights.com/country/mexico/
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