Mexican Culture and Chinese Culture
The ‘culture’ concept has been regarded by many people as multidimensional and complex, the latter being attributed to the difficulty in defining it in simple terms. However, culture can be defined as the complex whole that entails perspectives such as art, knowledge, law, belief, custom, morals, as well as any other habits or capabilities that humans acquire being members of society. Also, the cultural concept has been widely considered as an interactive aggregate of the common features or characteristics, which play a role in influencing how a particular group responds to the environment. Societal culture can provide individuals with solutions and ways of overcoming problems faced in society, and thus, the concept can be categorized into international, national, regional, business, and organizational levels. In this case, the focus is on the national level culture, with emphasis on the Chinese culture, which is the culture of interest, and the Mexican culture, with which there is identification.
Description of the culture of interest
There is no doubt that the Chinese culture is among the oldest cultures worldwide, and this is attributed to the fact that it is over a thousand years old. A mention of the Chinese culture shifts the focus of individuals to a large geographical area in the Far East or Eastern Asia. This region is renowned for its traditions and customs that vary from one province to another, from one city to another, as well as from one town to another. The Chinese culture’s components include religion, language, food, arts, customs and celebrations, as well as architecture. First, regarding the religious component, for a long time, the Chinese government through the ruling Chinese Communist Party has supported atheism, although its tolerance to religious practices is gradually being witnessed. There are five religions in the Chinese culture, and these include Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Buddhism, which is widely practiced. Despite the Chinese constitution highlighting the freedom of religion, other religions other than those mentioned above are considered illegal, and individuals who practice illegalized religions often face the wrath of the Chinese government.
When it comes to the language perspective, it is noted that the Chinese language has seven major groups of dialects, with each having own variations. The Mandarin dialect is widely spoken, with over 71.5% of the Chinese population speaking the Mandarin dialect. It is then followed by the Wu dialect, which is spoken by approximately 8.5 percent of the Chinese population. Other dialects spoken by the Chinese people include Yue, also known as Cantonese, Xiang, Mic, Hakka, and Gan. Despite the existence of several dialects, the official language in China is known as Pŭtōnghuà, which is a type of the Mandarin dialect and it is widely spoken in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Moreover, there are indications that Chinese people are gradually becoming conversant with international languages such as English and French.
Another important component of the Chinese culture is food, which like every other aspect of the culture, is heavily influenced by ethnic diversities and geographic location. The main style of cooking in the Chinese culture is Cantonese, and this features or characterizes primarily stir-fried dishes. Szechuan is the other key style of cooking, and its reliance is on sesame paste, peanuts, as well as ginger. The Szechuan style of cooking among the Chinese is also renowned for its spiciness. Rice is also one of the major foods, in fact, a staple food in the Chinese culture having played an integral role in the growth of the Chinese society in entirety. Apart from the Chinese cuisine, Chinese art is also of great significance in the culture, and it is greatly influenced by the mystical history and the spiritual nature of the Chinese society.
Most of the paintings and sculptures in China are depictions of spiritual figures of Buddhism. Music is part of Chinese art, and the fact that it leverages on myriads of musical instruments is irrefutable. Some of the musical instruments that are fundamental to the Chinese culture include the flute-like xun as well as the guqin. Chinese martial arts such as kung fu are also of great significance when the focus is on Chinese art.
Kung Fu is a renowned fighting technique that having been created in the mid-1600s is based on animal movements. Furthermore, the significance of customs and celebration to the Chinese culture cannot be overlooked. The largest festival in the culture is known as the Spring Festival, with which the Chinese population marks the commencement of the Lunar New Year. This festival falls between mid-January and mid-February, and during this period, the emphasis is on honoring ancestors. The activities undertaken by the Chinese during this festival include eating rice congee and mustard greens, which are believed to help cleanse the body. Also, the festival is marked with parades that feature dragon-dressed dancers and fireworks.
The Chinese architecture also helps identify the Chinese culture, and it is one of the oldest architectures dating back to 2000 years ago. The architectural design in China does not rely on the specificity of regions or religions but is common across the culture with its emphasis on width. As such, it contrasts the Western architecture that emphasizes on height although there are few Chinese exceptions such as pagodas, which also emphasizes on height. Another key feature in Chinese architecture is symmetry, and this is seen to connote a grandeur sense because its application is evident in almost every construction including farmhouses and palaces.
Chinese culture is of considerable interest due to uniqueness and distinctiveness as compared to other global cultures. In fact, there are several cultural practices in China that are not common among other global cultures. For instance, the uniqueness of the Chinese architectural design makes it interesting. It is easy to differentiate Chinese architecture from others such as Western and African architecture. Moreover, the fact that the Chinese culture does not emphasize on religion makes it even more interesting, and this makes individuals want to learn more about the religious life and how they survive without necessarily believing neither in God nor the use of terms such as “God bless you.”
Unlike the Western cultures, the Chinese culture emphasizes collectivism, which is without a doubt one of the significant features of the latter. Thus, it is imperative to have an understanding of the concepts of “collectivism” and “individualism.” Notably, in individualistic cultures or societies, people give preference to acting or working as individuals rather than as members of a group. As such, individualism stresses more on personal achievements than group achievements. Conversely, in collectivist societies or cultures, people give preference to working as groups rather than as individuals. In collectivist societies, children often learn to respect groups to which they belong, which usually is the family. It is also argued that members of collectivist societies often expect to be protected by groups when they are in trouble, and the pay to such protection is loyalty to the group. In the Chinese culture, the emphasis is on collectivism, and this is underscored by the fact that Chinese subjects are more oriented towards the enhancement of in-group harmony than individualistic harmony. In fact, the aspect of being members of the community is greatly valued in China, and this has seen the population make collective contributions towards the development of the Chinese economy (Guo, 2012).
Description and characteristics of culture identified with
There is a long history behind the development of the Mexican culture, with many people arguing that the culture developed as a result of the blending or interaction of native, Spanish, and other immigrant cultures. Research indicates that when the Spanish ruled Mexico, several centuries ago, Mexico was a crossroad for people of diverse cultures including the Europeans, Asians, and Africans, and this resulted in the development of a diversified culture. However, over the years, the Mexican culture has undergone a significant and notable transformation with variation in the culture being seen throughout the country (Santana & Santana, 2001).
Being the 14th largest country in the world, Mexico consists of several ethnic groups, with the Mestizo, also known as the Amerindian-Spanish group accounting for more than 60% of the country’s population. The other group, the Amerindian, account for around 30 percent of the country’s population whereas the Whites account for 9 percent of the population. The existence of the groups mentioned above has seen the creation of a unique culture in Mexico. Some of the key perspectives or components of the Mexican culture include language, religion, the value of the people, food, art and literature, clothing, as well as holidays and celebrations.
First, regarding language, the most widely spoken language is Spanish, the latter having colonized or ruled the country for over 300 years (Santana & Santana, 2001). Research indicates that approximately 92.7 percent of the Mexican population speaks Spanish whereas 6 percent accounts for the population that speaks both Spanish and other local languages such as Nahuatl and Mayan. Some words of the Mexican indigenous language of Nahuatl such as tomato, avocado, chocolate, and coyote have been integrated into other languages such as English. When it comes to the religious perspective of the Mexican culture, it is noted that religious values and the church are of great significance. In fact, the most widely spread religions in the Mexican culture are Catholicism and Christianity although part of the Mexican population has also incorporated pre-Hispanic Mayan elements to form an integral part of their faith. The Christian denominations forming part of the Mexican religious culture include Seventh-Day Adventists, Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Mormons, Presbyterians, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other than Christianity, religions such as Buddhism, Jewish, and Islam also form part of the Mexican culture, although they are practiced by small communities.
Another perspective or characteristic of the Mexican culture is the value of the Mexican people. It is seen that Mexicans put a high value on aspects such as structure and hierarchy when it comes to matters related to family and business. Mexicans living in rural regions have large families, and they value or rather are conscious of family responsibilities. It is also a common practice for the Mexican people to host parties at their homes, and this is one of the practices that play a significant part in the lives of Mexicans as it makes visitors feel comfortable and safe and also contributes significantly towards upholding of the customs of the country.
Another key characteristic of the Mexican culture is the cuisine or food, which is seen to vary from one income level or social class to another. For the working or high social class, the diet includes staple foods such as wheat tortillas or corn, which frequently are eaten alongside rice, beans, chili peppers, chorizo, beans, a type of pork sausage, and empanadas. For the middle-income Mexicans, the diet is aligned with that of Europeans and Americans and is often prepared in a broad range of culinary styles. Tequila is a renowned drink, which comes from Mexico and it is made from agave cactus that is suited to Central Mexico’s climate. Besides, soda which is a global drink is common in Mexico, and this is highlighted by the country’s well-developed beverage industry.
Art is integral to the Mexican culture and includes clay pottery, basket-making, the making of cotton garments, outer garments with angular designs, as well as the production of wool shawls. The other perspective of Mexican art is music, with the culture being closely associated with the Mariachi style of folk music. It is argued that the latter originated from the southern part of Jalisco state in Mexico and is comprised of a group of musicians who play musical instruments such as guitars, violins, vihuelas, basses, and trumpets (Santana & Santana, 2001).
The Mexican culture is also renowned for its fashion and clothing with several fashion designers such as Julia Renata and Jorge Duque hailing from Mexico. The style in Mexican cities is influenced by international trends, and this underlines the similarity of Mexican dresses to those of people in the US and Europe. Mexicans in rural regions have a preference for skirts, capes known as quechquémitls, sleeveless tunics identified as huipils, and shawls identified as rebozos. Mexican men identify themselves with traditional clothing called sarape, which is a large blanket cape. It is also noted that boots are part and parcel of Mexican men’s clothing and style.
Like the Chinese culture, holidays and celebrations form part of the Mexican culture, with one of the key festivals being the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is celebrated annually on December 12. During this holiday, Mexicans appreciate and celebrate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to an Indian man, and this is believed to have occurred during the commencement of the Spanish rule. Another key celebration in the Mexican culture is identified as the Day of the Dead, and this is celebrated annually on November 2 in honor and memory of the members of the Mexican population who have died. Moreover, there is a celebration known as Carnival, which is celebrated throughout the country to mark the period before Lent. The Independence Day is also of great significance to the Mexican culture as it marks the separation from Spain in 1810. Additionally, there is the Cinco de Mayo, which marks the victory of Mexicans over the French in 1862.
The Mexican culture, like the Chinese culture, is considered collectivist, and this is highlighted by the fact the Mexican societies are often integrated into cohesive and strong in-groups, which play a key role in the protection of people. In fact, the Mexican culture’s collectivist nature is an indication of a strong sense for social harmony and group formations, a perspective that suggests the culture’s preference for team-based work rather than individual competition. In fact, research indicates that as compared to other Latin countries, Mexico has a lower Individualism ranking (30). One of the Mexican culture’s emphases is that people should need to take responsibility for fellow members of their group (De Mente, 2011).
Similarities and differences between Mexican and Chinese cultures
The Mexican and Chinese cultures are similar and different in various perspectives such as time orientation, communication, physical and mental health, group relationships, perceptions and measures of intelligence, and several others. First, the perspective of time orientation reflects a culture’s preference towards past, present, or future thinking, and it also determines why and how a particular culture values and controls time. The Mexican culture, as a result of the influence of the American culture, is seen to focus on the future. This is attributed to the fact that the country has been in existence for a shorter time as compared to China, and that most of the Mexican population has been in existence for a short time because of the migrations of diverse racial groups to Mexico. Time orientation of the Mexican culture has seen the creation of the psychological need for shorter rather than longer commitments. Mexicans have speed in whatever activities they undertake with their focus on the maximization of profits and the quick development of their economy.
In contrast, the Chinese culture is oriented towards the past, and this has seen the country focus on traditions and long-term commitments (Spears et al, 2000). For the perspective of communication, in the Mexican culture, communication is seen to be effective when those engaged or involved in the process are close to one another. However, standing close to one another in the Chinese culture is discouraged. In fact, more distance between those engaged in the communication process is seen as a sign of respect. Moreover, maintenance of eye contact is essential in communication although, in the Mexican culture, it is considered as a sign of disrespect. This is similar to the maintenance of eye contact in the Chinese culture during the communication process, which is also seen as a sign of disrespect (Keener, 2000).
When it comes to physical and mental health, in the Mexican culture, there is a belief that physical and mental illnesses come from God as rewards for bad behaviors or practices (Alvarado, 2008). As such, in the Mexican culture, when handling patients with physical or mental health problems, it is imperative to have an understanding of the fact that God’s interference may be prevalent. In the Chinese culture, the reaction to physical and mental health problems is stoic. The Chinese culture stresses that the exhibition of physical and mental health problems is an indication of the weaknesses of the character of an individual. The Chinese culture believes that people are perfect if they rarely experience physical or mental health problems (Alvarado, 2008).
As mentioned earlier, both the Mexican and Chinese cultures are collectivist, and thus, both encourage group relationships. Group relationships play an integral part of the coexistence and harmony of individuals in the two cultures. The perception of Mexican and Chinese cultures are different, and this is because the former views intelligence as a way through which individuals devise categories and participate or engage in rational debates whereas the latter has the perception that intelligence is a way through which individuals recognize complexity and contradiction while seeking to play their societal roles successfully (Peterson, 2004).
Description of theory guiding cultural analysis
The analysis of Mexican and Chinese cultures can be guided by the structural-functional theory. The latter is a theory or approach that views or has a perception that society is an interconnected and complex system where different cultures coexist. The structural-functional theory thinks of society as the human body, where every organ must work dependently and coexist to have the body carry out its operations or activities (Kitchen, 2016). Put simply; this theory is of the opinion that human limbs and other body parts despite having individual functions, must work together so that a fully-functional system can be created. As such, the theory gives the suggestion that cultural functions are the structure of in society and that for the functioning of society and to meet human needs, these cultures have to coexist and depend on another. Essentially, this theory is of the opinion that culture gives meaning as well as direction, and also plays a fundamental role in determining how and what should be done by people. Moreover, with this theory, a deduction can be made that people have to work together with the aim of finding resources that can help them survive and make connections with themselves.
Using the structural-functional theory to explain cultural influences on human, personality, and identity development
Without a doubt, cultures including Mexican and Chinese cultures have an impact on human development, identity development, and personality development. Based on the structural-functional theory, it should be noted that the coexistence and interconnectedness of the various perspectives of the Mexican culture influence human development positively. For instance, as mentioned earlier, some of the prospects of the Mexican culture are language, which is largely Spanish, religion, which is largely Christianity, and their art such as music. Language, religion, and art must work hand in hand to contribute positively towards human development (Albert & Trommsdorff, 2014). The latter can be viewed from an economic or social perspective. As such, the Mexican culture through the interconnectedness of the aspects of language, religion, and art can ensure that humans develop economically, politically, and socially. Besides, the interconnectedness of the perspectives of the Mexican culture such as the Spanish language, Catholicism, music, and clothing have played an integral role in enhancing identity development because it is easier to identify or differentiate Mexicans from other communities. Mexican’s identity development cannot be achieved with only one cultural perspective, say the Spanish language as several other communities worldwide, use the language.
It is also important to note that the interconnectedness or coexistence of cultural perspectives plays an integral role in personality development within the Mexican culture (Triandis & Suh, 2002). That is to say, with cultural aspects such as wearing of boots, alignment to Christianity, and speaking Spanish, an individual would be in a position to develop his or her personality. On the other hand, the fact that interconnectedness and coexistence of various cultural perspectives have an influence on human development, identity development, and personality development within the Chinese culture cannot be refuted. As mentioned earlier, some of the perspectives of the Chinese culture are religion, which is largely Buddhism and Confucianism, festivals and celebrations such as the Spring Festival, and the language, which is largely Mandarin have played an integral role in enhancing identity development, because it is easier to identify the Chinese through the interconnectedness of their aforementioned cultural perspectives.
In addition, the perspectives such as celebrations, religion, art, and language must work hand in hand to contribute positively towards human development within the Chinese culture. This is an insinuation that it is only through the interconnectedness of the Chinese cultural perspective of language, art, religion, and celebrations that human development in the form of political, economic, and social development can be achieved (Albert & Trommsdorff, 2014). According to the structural-functional theory, it is only through the interconnectedness of the perspectives as mentioned earlier of the Chinese culture that personality development can be witnessed.
Using the structural-functional theory to explain cultural influences on expression of emotion, morality development, gender, aggression
The fundamental concept in the structural-functional theory is interconnectedness of cultural perspectives to determine how and what activities people participate in. However, it should be noted that the interconnectedness of these perspectives could have an influence on how people express emotion morality development, aggression, and gender. First, it should be noted that the interconnectedness of cultural perspectives such as clothing, Christianity, and music of the Mexican culture has an influence on how they express emotions. It is only through the interconnectedness of the aforementioned cultural perspectives that emotion of Mexicans can be invoked and not a single perspective.
It is through the interconnectedness of the Mexican cultural perspectives that morality development can be experienced, a male can be differentiated from the female, and aggression can be exhibited (Triandis & Suh, 2002). Without interconnectedness, say when the focus is on only religion such as Christianity, it would be hard to determine whether morality development has been achieved or not. In the same, vein, it would be hard to differentiate gender and aggression among individuals both within the Mexican culture.
On the other hand, according to the structural-functional theory, interconnectedness of cultural perspectives would have a positive influence on the expression of emotion, morality development, gender, and aggression within the Chinese culture. In the Chinese culture, some of the key cultural perspectives include religion, architecture, celebrations and festivals, as well as language. Undoubtedly, to invoke emotion among people within the Chinese culture, religion must work hand in hand with celebrations, language, and arts. This is an insinuation that interconnectedness of the perspectives of the Chinese culture could enhance morality development, could help determine gender and aggression of individuals within the culture.
Biases that may influence analysis of cultures
The bias that might affect the analysis of Mexican and Chinese cultures, in this case, is that details and expansive information about the former is already available given that it is the culture that is identified with. This means that the analysis of the Mexican culture could overshadow that of the Chinese culture as there is little knowledge or understanding of the latter. Essentially, this bias would be prevented had there been identification with the Chinese culture rather than it just being a culture of interes
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