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Usa & Mexico: A Comparison of Two Cultures

Essay by   •  January 23, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,172 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,030 Views

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USA &Mexico

Running Head: USA &MEXICO: A COMPARISON OF TWO CULTURES

USA & Mexico

A Comparison of Two Cultures

Andrew Klupsch

Cultural Psychology

Ishler 2-4

Texas in it self is a highly diverse multicultural society. It takes on many aspects of many different cultures. One very noticeable culture that has a great impact on Texas would be that of the Mexican culture. Because Mexican culture is so apparent in Texas, that it is easy to compare and contrast some cultural aspects between Mexican and American cultures. This attempt to compare and contrast these two different yet similar cultures will increase awareness and acceptance of cultural differentiation. In order to examine these two cultures closely, I will use Hofstede's cultural layers and cultural dimensions to categorize their different facets as well as compare and contrast them.

To begin, one of the most visual characteristics of culture are the many various symbols that represent things of significance or importance in one's culture. "Symbols are words, gestures, pictures, or objects that carry a particular meaning within a culture." (Hofstede, 1990, p. 291). One symbol that both Mexican and American cultures hold to a very high esteem is the nation's flag. The Mexican flag is tri-colored; these colors independently are very common and highly recognizable in the Mexican culture as colors of independence and patriotism. The Mexican flag also contains an eagle on a pear tree that is representative of the Aztec heritage. The American flag also contains symbols of importance like the colors and the stars. The stars are obviously representative of the fifty states and American patriotism, and the three colors in the American flag are also widely noticeable and represent the patriotic hard working nature of the American culture. Though not on the American flag, the eagle is also a symbol in American culture. In American culture the eagle represents strength and independence. Another symbol that is familiar to both the Mexican and American cultures are the images of respective constitutions. The constitution is a symbol for independence and the struggles that came before. An additional symbol that Mexican and American cultures have in common is their independence bells. There are also quite a few symbols that exist in Mexican culture and not in American, and vice versa. In Mexican culture the use of adobe is extensive and is a symbol of vitality, home, and a way of life. There is a similar symbol in American culture; the brick. Mexican culture also enjoys many different types of ceramics that are usually hand painted which represent nature and their heritage. Another contrasting symbol between Mexican culture and American culture is that the most widespread religious symbols are very different. The main Mexican culture religious symbol is the Lady of the Guadalupe due to the very high percentage of Catholics in Mexico. Where as in American culture the Crucifixion Cross is the most common religious image due to the melting pot of Christians in America. American culture contains other symbols that the Mexican culture does not. One strong symbol that is rampant in American culture and not in Mexican culture is the dollar sign. The dollar is a symbol for greed and power, which may be crippling the United States. Another, more light-hearted symbol, is the game of baseball. Baseball in American culture symbolizes America's favorite pastime and good qualities in good citizens.

Next we will consider heroes, another aspect that Mexican and American cultures also have similarities and differences in. "Heroes are persons, alive or dead, real or imaginary, who possess characteristics highly prized in the culture and who thus serve as models for behavior (Wilkins, 1984)." (Hofstede, 1990, p. 291)Mexican culture contains a handful of war and revolution heroes just like American culture. Francisco Madero and Pancho Villa both played their part in the Mexican Revolution, and because of their actions have been known as heroes in Mexican culture ever since. Francisco Madero first challenged the reign of Dictator Porfirio Diaz in 1910 sparking the Mexican Revolution. Pancho Villa led troops for the Madero movement and won the battle that conquered Porifirio Diaz. In American culture George Washington would be a paralleled hero. George Washington led the charge against the English homeland in the American Revolution. The Texan Revolution actually produced a hero for both cultures at the Battle of the Alamo. Santa Anna is forever memorialized in Mexican culture, as is Davy Crockett in American culture. American culture contains a couple different heroes not from wartime who are just as groundbreaking and influential as those before them. Franklin Delano Roosevelt 32nd President of the United States of America introduced the New Deal Legislation which was instrumental in bringing America out of the Great Depression. He also was the first president to talk to the people directly through the airwaves of radio. These are but a few reasons why FDR is considered a hero in American culture. One of American culture's most recent heroes, Martin Luther King Jr., worked for social equality and led the social and civil rights movement. He is most famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech where he spoke of racial equality, which solidified him as an American hero.

Another layer of culture that can be examined are the rituals that each culture takes part in. "Rituals are collective activities that are technically superfluous but are socially essential within a culture." (Hofstede, 1990, p. 291). Mexican and American cultures have some similar rituals as well as some very different ones. Mexican culture celebrates their independence with a holiday and fireworks on Cinco de Mayo. The American ritual for independence is celebrated on July 4th also with a holiday and fireworks. Another ritual that is participated in annually by both Mexican and American cultures is the celebration of Christmas. Gift giving is a common ritual during the Christmas season. There are also some very unique rituals specific to each culture. For starters, one the most distinctive rituals in all of the World takes place in the Mexican culture, Dia de Los Muertos. Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration with masks like skulls and dancing honoring late ancestors. Another ritual specific to the Mexican culture is the holiday recognizing the Lady of the Guadalupe. The ritual

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