Multicultural Issues in a New American Society
Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, and African Americans will soon be half of the US population. These cultural groups tend to preserve key elements of their ancestral cultures. Communicating and marketing in culture to these important groups requires cultural understanding. Cultural diversity and multiculturalism are important trends in the United States and around the world. This blog is about cultural diversity and multiculturalism.
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Entertainment as cultural learning
Sunday, February 28, 2021
The Culture of Videoconferencing and Video get togethers: A Virtual Community
When in 1976 I started reading and thinking about teleconferencing and videoconferencing I had no clue that one day that would become a way of life. I wrote then a paper called "A Theory of Electronic Propinquity." In that paper I talked about the conditions under which mediated get togethers would work better or worse. Click here to read that paper.
Togetherness has changed in meaning as people are afraid of physical contact and travel. Thus, now electronic propinquity is the way to be close!
Saturday, January 2, 2021
The Internationalization of US Audiences in the Face of Parochialism
Online media has been one of the few sources of content available during the virus situation in 2020 and 2021. We have experienced great amounts of anxiety and content deprivation in times of isolation and lack of social interaction.
Netflix and Amazon Prime have been some of the few sources of content to alleviate loneliness and anomie. These important content venues have contracted with international producers to deliver programming from most continents to the public of the US and many other countries. This variety of international content must have some impact on the awareness and disposition of audiences everywhere. The US being largely parroquial now has a large diet of content from different parts of the world.
Paradoxically, the previous US government had been keen on looking inwards and vilifying the rest of the world. The contrast has been interestingly challenging. While some prefer to be isolated from the rest of the world, they currently have few choices but to be immersed in international content even without their awareness. I say without their awareness because dubbing has gotten very sophisticated and many times undetectable. Still the culture and values reflected in international content permeates screens almost everyone is glued to.
Disruptive as it may sound, the war of the minds seems to be in favor of internationalism. Think about the fashion, physique, language, and themes of global programming contrasted with the locally produced US content. Sheer volume is in favor of internationalism, but also fashion and looks. Language diversity is becoming mainstream in the living room.
Think about popular shows like "Money Heist" (not a good translation of "La casa de papel")with its mostly Spanish (from Spain) and also international cast. The way of behaving and being in that series is appealing to audiences in the US but it is so different. The philosophy of life in it is almost nihilist: Enjoy what you can because when the party is over it's over. That is in contrast with deterministic and religious undertones in US domestic content. Even English and Danish content reflects values and ways of being different from those prevalent in the United States.
Younger generations turning into adults in the US, having been influenced by the protracted "stay at home" way of life, will come out of their shells with a mindset that is in sharp contrast with that of their predecessors. These will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow who instead of looking to close borders will aim at internationalism because they will better understand others who are different.
When a physical virus spreads across countries and cultures with unprecedented speed, so does an international mindset despite the bitter wishes of some. Culture is also a virus, but in my opinion, a more constructive virus that allows those of us meandering on the surface of the earth to better understand each other.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Podcast on Hispanic Culture
Monday, July 8, 2019
Social Diversity as a Parallel to Genetic Diversity
Interestingly, a society or workplace that promotes diversity tends to result in stronger and more creative ideas. That is precisely because ideas coming from different cultural experiences can enhance each other. This metaphor, to me is important as we strive to make our organizations increasingly stronger and better suited to cope with a complex environment.
When ideas intermix and get debated stronger results happen. Not surprisingly the United States is a great example of how diversity results in a stronger society. A nation of immigrants without precedent has become the most powerful and creative society the world has seen. Efforts to contain diversity are likely to be ill informed as diversity has been the engine that promotes prosperity and innovation.
It is understandable that certain groups would like to remain isolated and intact from outside influence. After all, we all have the primitive tendency to try to stick with others who are like ourselves. Unfortunately that effort is unlikely to do good for society as it perpetuates old conservative ideas that tend to restrain thought and innovation.
Clearly, borders have a reason to be. They protect economic interests and they contain social and cultural identities. The problem is that borders can be used as a political tool to restrain diversity and promote homogeneity. That is likely to result in a degraded social system. Having rational immigration and border protection policies makes sense for sure. Promoting fear of "immigrants" and others who are different, on the other hand, can be very counterproductive.
Monday, July 9, 2018
DACA, Immigration, and the US Labor Force
Unfortunately, the issue goes a lot deeper than politicians would like the US population to believe. They talk about "wait your turn in line," and about the evil nature of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants. The facts are different and they have deep historical roots.
The usual "wait your turn in line" argument is misinformed as there is practically no line to speak of. Close relatives of US Citizens can usually get a "green card" within 10 years of applying. Also, highly skilled individuals with advanced degrees and/or scarce skills can be certified by the department of labor and be admitted to the US. Regular laborers have a very remote opportunity to immigrate legally. For them there is basically no line and that is the key problem because these are the most numerous segment of people wishing to immigrate to the US.
It is the farm workers, construction workers, service workers, and other laborers that are needed in the US now. So, rational immigration reform that allows for these needed workers to come to the US with documentation, do their work, and then return home should be the kernel of the discussion.
Mexicans in particular, and other Latin Americans have deep roots in the United States. About half of the US used to belong to Mexico in the 19th century. So, for many, the border left them behind. That accounts for the deep connections between people on both sides of the border.
Further, over the past 40 or 50 years, the lack of labor availability in the US led many employers to encourage workers from Mexico and other countries to fill the void. The availability of work has been the main lure. This is particularly true because even these mostly undocumented immigrants get paid better in the US than in their country or origin. Still those wages are low but have afforded them a better life and the opportunity to send money to their relatives to improve their lifestyles. These are not evil people but mostly people who have escaped deep poverty. Now they have been vilified and humiliated when the reason for their coming to the US is the opportunity the US has provided them.
There have been many attempts at remediating the immigration system. Generally these have been poorly orchestrated and failing efforts. The Obama administration was one of the most aggressive in deporting undocumented workers but they did it silently. That administration installed DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) which gave two years of renewable or not renewable permission to those who were brought to the US as children. At face value DACA seemed like a good measure for immigrants, but upon analysis it was a smart maneuver to get these people to come forward and be accounted for, and also identified and tracked. It was a beneficial move for the US and provided some hope to those who were brought here as children. That is now in jeopardy and the mood of anti-immigration is growing.
Few politicians and news people bother to point out that net immigration from Mexico has been below zero for the past several years. Still, the vilification of immigrants continues. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states "As a result of declining fertility rates and decreasing international migration, the population of the United States is growing more slowly than in previous decades and is also getting older." (reference)
It is tragic and difficult to understand that US politicians are spending so much time demeaning immigrants that are needed for the prosperity of the country. The US should be rushing to establish a rational and well designed immigration systems that benefits the US and those who are willing to work hard here.
Undocumented (so called illegal) immigrants have provided Americans with housing, food, services, and other types of labor that have benefited everyone. Why not do it with a system that recognizes the value of these workers to the economy and encourages legal immigration?
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Census Citizenship Question!
Those of us who study social psychology and communication science understand that there are several issues at stake by including a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. These are important considerations:
1. The intention of adding a citizenship question in the 2020 Census can be interpreted in different ways. The first, assuming a straightforward motivation, is to find out how many people are actually citizens. That would be a fine motivation. Most likely, however, the motivation for such a question is to discourage people from answering the US Census at all. In that case, redistricting and other related political interests would favor those against immigrants. And remember, the Census is about counting everyone in the United States.
2. Remember that being a citizen is not a requirement for being counted. There are many legal residents who are not citizens. Many politicians, however, do not know that.
3. Both undocumented (so called illegal) and non-citizen legal residents are likely to just opt out of the Census. Why? Because of implicit intimidation. While the US Census is supposed to be completely confidential and no identities are supposed to be revealed, many people do not know that or doubt it. Japanese American confidentiality was violated during World War II and given current xenophobic circumstances it may happen again. Why would an undocumented (so called illegal) reveal their status even if assured anonymity? It makes no sense. In the case of legal residents who are not citizens, they may fear being ostracized or even targeted for exclusion. Fear in this time of general hostility towards immigrants in general is justified.
Even US Citizens of Hispanic, African, or Asian heritages may be discouraged from completing the Census because of fear of being suspected. "Will they question my citizenship?" Others may not answer just by being insulted because their friends and relatives are being targeted. Others may just object to the Census count because it is the mandate of the Census to count everyone without restriction.
So what happens if a citizenship question is asked in the US 2020 Census? There will likely be a severe undercount that will jeopardize the purpose of the Census and more importantly allow for more political manipulation. The 2010 Census had a legend in the envelope stating that people residing in the US were mandated by law to reply. I wonder how many people did not answer just by the fear generated by that statement. Imagine the headaches the Bureau of the United States Census will face in trying to compensate for lack of response from a wide variety of constituencies.
Getting someone to answer a survey or a census requires understanding the social psychology of the situation. The problem is that ill intentions dressed in moral garbs can mislead everyone, even those who have the best interest of the United States in mind.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Guilt as a Powerful Cultural Motivator
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Multiple Screens in a Multicultural Society: What the Future Can Bring
- Social dysfunction and lack of interpersonal skills
- Isolation and daunting individualism
- Obesity and ill health due to lack of physical activity
- Life span decreasing and quality of life deteriorating
- Illiteracy because of lack of reading and writing in grammatically accepted ways
- Increased selective exposure to materials that agree with one’s points of view, thus polarizing society further
- Formal education becoming less important and attractive to young people
- Brain transformations that allow for increased multitasking and multiple brain operations at once thus making us more versatile in our dealings with people and objects
- Increased and constant social interaction by dramatically increasing and diversifying our social networks to extents never possible before
- Increased physical activity as technology will allow for exercise while being virtually connected literally “on the run”
- Integration of virtual and physical networks to extents never imagined so that people with common interests can navigate between virtual and physical worlds fluidly
- “Electronic propinquity” or virtual personal nearness will allow for intimacy with distant people who are dear to us and allow for relationships that go beyond what we have known as a relationship
- Education will become more challenging and interesting as lectures and formal settings become a thing of the past and experiential learning becomes more prevalent
- Images and sounds will become the new literacy as our brains become more capable of comprehending the world in more complicated symbolic forms
- Linear literacy will be replaced with immersion literacy, in which one experiences symbols
- By being connected with distant multiple and diverse others our ability to empathize and understand differences will increase
- Life spans will continue to increase as exercise and healthy habits are reinforced by new technologies
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Hispanic Millennials: Implications for Marketing
And as Randy Stockdale emphasizes "The age range is so wide, that by the time they get to the end of the spectrum (those born in '80) they have gone through 2-3 life stages. And this may differ by gender - Hispanic females likely married with kids, yet many men likely not." REFERENCE
- Generational groupings and generalizations are tricky and many times inaccurate
- Latinos have not gone through the same experiences as their non-Hispanic counterparts, thus generalizing to them can be misleading
- Young Hispanics come in many types and with diverse backgrounds. Still, there are central tendencies based on experience, socio-economic background, and country of origin
- Marketers need to pay attention to the subtleties of different segments of the population and avoid costly mistakes by assuming homogeneity
- The “New Latino” is an important synergistic identity of not being from here or there, but shaped by the common experience of being different...
- Marketers and market researchers will benefit from researching this new Latino identity and behavior
- Using giant clusters such as "Millennials" is not a segmentation approach but a way to avoid looking at important differences that can be used for effective targeting and communication