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Hispanic Americans Chapter 11 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003. This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: - any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; - preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; - any rental, lease, or lending of the program.
Questions We Will Explore What cultural value orientations do most Hispanics share to some degree? What changes in structural conditions make upward mobility difficult for many of the Hispanic newcomers to the United States? Compare the Mexican and Puerto Rican experience. What are some social and cultural characteristics of Cuban Americans? What insights into the Hispanic experience do the three major sociological perspectives provide? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Cultural Attributes of Hispanic Americans Although their cultural backgrounds, social class, and length in the U.S. differ in many ways, Hispanic Americans share a common language and heritage. A cultural concept associated with Hispanics—especially Mexicans—is that of La Raza Cosmica, the cosmic race (the amalgamation of white, black, and Indian races). Machismo is a basic value governing various qualities of masculinity. To Hispanic males, such attributes as inner strength in the face of adversity, personal daring, bravado, leadership, and sexual prowess are measures of one’s manhood. The role of the man is to be a good provider for his family, to protect its honor at all times, and to be strong reliable, and independent. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Cultural Attributes (continued) Marianismo is the companion value of machismo, describing various qualities of femininity, particularly acceptance of male dominance, emphasis on family responsibilities, and the nurturing role of women. The cultural value of dignidad is the basis of social interaction, it assumes that the dignity of all humans entitles them to a measure of respect. More broadly, the concept includes a strong positive self-image. Hispanics (particularly Puerto Ricans) expect to be treated in terms of dignidad. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Cultural Attributes (continued) Hispanics generally have a more casual attitude toward time than do others in the U.S. and a negative attitude toward rushing. To Hispanics, not looking directly into the eyes of an authority figure such as a teacher or police officer is an act of respect. Like some Europeans, Hispanics regard physical proximity in conversation as a sign of friendliness, (Anglos are accustomed to a greater distance between conversationalists). Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Structural Conditions Affecting the Hispanic American Experience The experience varies depending on the particular ethnic group, area of the country, and period involved. In the Southwest, agricultural needs and Mexican Americans greatly factor in dominant-minority relations. In the East, industrial employment, urban problems, and the presence of Cubans or Puerto Ricans provide the focal points of attitudes and actions. Unlike past groups from less industrialized nations, today’s Hispanic immigrants enter a postindustrial society where fewer unskilled jobs are available. As a result, many Hispanics lack the necessary skills to adjust easily to working in the U.S. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Structural Conditions (continued) The suburbanization of industry means that older cities (where poor immigrants traditionally lived and worked out of economic necessity) no longer have enough manufacturing jobs for the newcomers. The unions of the past helped European immigrants to obtain job security, better wages, and improved working conditions, but today’s unions are smaller and weaker, and in many service occupations nonexistent. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Mexicans & Puerto Ricans: A Comparison Most Puerto Ricans are less likely to have arrived recently, are better educated, and speak better English than Mexicans. Employed Puerto Ricans earn more than employed Mexicans. Fewer Mexican Americans live in poverty, and of those who do, far fewer seek government assistance than the Puerto Rican poor. Employed Puerto Ricans work in highly unionized labor markets that have favorable wages and working conditions, but the unemployment rate is far higher for Puerto Ricans. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
A Comparison (continued) Mexican Americans work in states with weak or no unions and where continually arriving newcomers create an extensive labor supply enabling exploitative practices by employers. More Puerto Ricans live in northern cities which have recently experienced a significant decline in low-skill jobs. The Southwest, in contrast, has experienced rapid growth, making job prospects for less skilled workers better there than in northern cities. Consequently, more Mexican-Americans than Puerto Ricans can find work, but for less pay. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Some Characteristics of Cuban Americans For Cubans, material success should be pursued for personal freedom, not physical comfort in contrast to dominant-group’s stressing hard work as a means of achieving material well-being. Cubans are fervent believers in generosity, in contrast to the old Anglo-Puritan values of thrift and frugality. Cubans have a lower fertility rate, lower unemployment rate, higher median family income, a greater education rate, and greater middle-class population composition than other Hispanic groups. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
The Hispanic Experience - 3 Perspectives Functionalist: Hispanic immigrants with lower levels of educational attainment, even undocumented aliens and minors, often fill the needs of industries on the periphery which depend on low-skilled workers. Rapid social change is the key to existing problems. The influx of large numbers of Hispanic immigrants in a short period and the changing occupational structure of U.S. society have prevented the social system from absorbing so many low skilled workers. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Perspectives (continued) Conflict Theory: Mexican Americans and other Hispanics are confined to certain areas of rental properties controlled by absentee landlords, and restricted to low-paying job opportunities, inferior schools, and many other forms of discrimination. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and other Hispanics are exploited as migrant farm laborers in many places under abysmal conditions for meager pay. City sweatshops employing thousands of undocumented aliens, refugees, and low-skilled legal immigrants operate in clandestine settings, prospering from the toil of low-wage Hispanic employees. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Perspectives (continued) Interactionist: Many Anglos view Hispanic communities, parallel social institutions, and limited English as detrimental to the cohesiveness of U.S. society, failing to realize that 83 percent of Hispanics are first-generation Americans repeating the pattern of earlier European immigrants. Extensive poverty among Hispanics often invites outsiders to blame the victim or to engage in culture-of- poverty thinking. Instead of confronting the problems of poor education, and lack of job skills and job opportunities, some find fault with the group itself, reacting with avoidance, indifference, or paternalistic behavior. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
Summary Hispanic Americans share a common language and heritage but differences exist. Particularly significant for the Hispanic immigrants, in comparison to other groups, are the changed structural conditions. Highly visible because of their numbers, language, culture, and poverty, many Hispanics find themselves the objects of resentment and hostility from the dominant society. The functionalist, conflict, and interactionist theories provide explanations for the Hispanic American experience. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003
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