A Mexican Suburb Full of SocioCultural Differences

A Mexican Suburb Full of SocioCultural Differences

Lately I have been noticing a lot of cultural differences in the way people work, think and act in Mexico. From business situations in my multicultural new job to social and everyday life encounters. And I am not just talking about Mexicans and US-ans … lately I am surrounded by people from all over Europe, South America and North America. With various languages and even more varied ideas about life, it is always a cultural experiment living in such a multicultural environment. For example, I just hosted a party with guests from no less than 8 countries! The party was interesting to see how people act and interact in different ways, many of them ruled by a hidden cultural guide unknown even to them.

I like to think of Cultural traits  as a software installed since childhood, when we watch, listen and learn from our parents, families and those around us how we should act in certain situations, what type of verbal and non-verbal communication we should use, and when to do and say specific things. Even though the majority of this learning will always be sub-conscious, years later it will still be visible in our many of our actions, expressions and manners of communicating. Let’s take the simple social event of a party; there are a million examples of the influence of people’s cultural upbringing guiding their behavior. For example:

  • Some arrive early, some arrive late
  • Some bring home-made gifts, some bring nothing but a smile
  • Some stick to their date or friends all night barely talking with anyone else, while others make the rounds several times and leave with a long list of new friends
  • Some smoke, some don’t … some drink, some don’t … and others smoke and drink (a lot)
  • Some dance, even before being drunk, others dance, only when drunk, and still others never get up the courage to move their bodies at all
  • Some sit down most of the night, others prefer to stay standing
  • Some talk a lot, others listen more
  • Some munch directly from the snack bowl, others take some chips into their napkin or hand to eat
  • Some talk about their careers and accomplishments, others talk about their families and travels
  • Some treat the bar tender with utmost respect, others order the him around rudely
  • Some carefully clean up when they are through, others don’t seem to notice the avalanche of a mess they leave behind
  • Some take ice, others lots of lime, and a few just like it hot
  • Some leave early, others leave when the hosts start to fall asleep after 4am 🙂

While not all of these differences are purely cultural, I personally believe (after studying anthropology and thinking way too much as I people-watch for hours on end) that many more differences have their roots in our cultural-infused upbringing than we care to admit. And when I say “culture” I don’t just mean Mexican, Brazilian or US-an. I am referring to micro-cultures of sociocultural groups (e.g., US hippies,  Mexican fresas), religious groups (Catholic vs. Jewish), socioecomic levels (middle vs. upper, NSE C vs. B+), and so many other micro-groups we belong to that influence how each one of us is raised from childhood to adulthood.

Just something to think about the next time you attend a party. Watch people’s actions and interactions, think about how and possibly why they do the things they do. It adds a fascinating new dimension to every party!