Stereotypes are prominent manifestations of attitudes in daily interactions between people of different backgrounds. Over a given period, individuals develop perceptions towards a people of a particular setting depending on the socialization agents that these individuals rely on as a source of information. Spain is one of the many countries whose people are often regarded with stereotypes. Some of these perceptions (as portrayed by the rest of the Western media) imply that all Spanish people are lazy, indulge in drinking, idolize bullfighting, promote chauvinism, have poor negotiation skills, do not keep time, and even do not speak English (Lazaro Huffingtonpost.com; Mestre et al. 186-95;Yardley New York Times.com). Although some of the above-mentioned practices can be identified with the Spanish population, evidence suggests that some of the mentioned issues at least represent either an exaggerated form of the realities on the ground or do not exist at all.
Bullfighting is one of the aspects of the Spanish culture that is well known in the Western world. Every season, most usually beginning April through September, Spanish people gather in designated places to experience their rich history in the form of bullfighting. These events have been used a tool of attracting millions of tourists to the country to witness such events (Hernandez email interview, Feb 27th, 2017).The media(especially in other Western nations) have played a significant role in popularizing bullfighting as a cultural practice of all Spanish people. Understandably, this is meant to popularize the country as a top tourist destination (Mestre et al. 186-87). However, not all Spaniards fancy bullfighting. Contrary to the widespread perception, bullfighting is practiced in isolated regions; it is not allowed in some parts of the country. For instance, Catalonia and the Canaries have enacted policies that prohibit bullfighting (Lazaro Huffingtonpost.com). In the same breadth, there are anti-bull fighting associations across Spain that seek to express displeasure from some segments of the Spanish population regarding the practice. To this end, the portrayal of Spanish people as cohorts of bullfighting becomes a stereotype in the sense that every Spaniard is considered to love the sport. Moreover, stereotypes may also be enhanced when this practice is interpreted as indigenous and, therefore, does not belong to an advanced Western society such as Spain.
As indicated earlier, the Western media depicts Spanish people that they are not as hard-working as other their peers in the Western world. They are lazy and do not consider wealth accumulation as part of their top priorities. Instead, they oversleep as well as indulge in celebrations and festivals (Lazaro Huffingtonpost.com).Interestingly, leisure habits such as popular fares that have dominated international productions have little to do with real Spanish people and their culture(Mestre et al. 186-87). Indeed, it true that Spanish people were the originators of siesta but the idea of laziness is purely based on the misconception of the real picture of Spain. Yes, in Spain, working hours are often interrupted for people to take siestas and have lunch breaks. Besides, Spain does not conform to the 9 am to 5 pm schedule that applies to a majority of nations across the world. Instead, they work late into the night, take dinner late and go to bed around 1 am. This unusual schedule often spills over to the following day and the circle continues (Yardley New York Times.com). But this does not mean that they sleep all day and are zombies. Conversely, Spaniards are a hard-working population but value coming together to share after work or during the lunch breaks. However, Lazaro notes that the elderly especially the retirees and little children who are yet to be sent to school still enjoy the siesta.
Persons who perpetuate the notion of laziness fail to recognize that Spain has one of the longest day-hours in the world, explaining the emergence of the siesta (Lazaro Huffington.com). Partly, this can be explained by considering historical factors that make people lazy. For instance, most people in the southern parts of the country earn their livelihoods by working in the huge parcels of land that have been owned by aristocrats for decades. Most of these jobs are seasonal and, for this reason, people find themselves jobless in some occasions. Such people consider siesta as way that helps them pass time. As a result, they are often interpreted as being lazy. Furthermore, the climatic conditions of the southern parts of Spain tend to emphasize this situation. In this region, long hours of the day and the hot temperatures during the summer make it almost impossible to work.
Closely related to laziness is the perception that Spanish people hold a lot of pride in celebrations and parties. During these parties, there is excessive drinking and merry-making which often impedes their contribution to the economy (Yardley New York Times.com). In this regard, Lazaro (Huffingtonpost.com) admits that Spanish people like partying and their calendar has some holidays that create room for such events. Insignificant events can be turned into parties. The practice is also enhanced by an element of the Spanish culture that values togetherness as opposed to high levels of individualism that is characteristic of the other parts of the Western world. Moreover, Spaniards have a very good balance between health and work. They consider holidays an integral aspect of their lives. As such, this cannot be taken as laziness or negative thing as it is part of the Spanish culture.
Time-keeping has been one of the issues that project the Spanish people as individuals who do not hold punctuality with high regard. They come to meetings late and take late meals. In Spain, unlike in the United States, Germany, France, and Switzerland, among others, time is not considered in terms of strict observance of specific deadlines (Hernandez 27th Feb 2017). Although the lack of punctuality reflects a correct description of Spanish people, consideration should be made to their culture which emphasizes on building relationships in business negotiations and meetings.
There is also the misconception that people in Spain do not speak English. This is a perception that is common in those countries that speak English as their first language (Lazaro Huffingtonpost.com).This perception creates a notion that Spanish people do not speak a second language. Contrary to this perception, Spanish citizens speak other languages other than Castilian. Others speak Italian and French. In last two decade, however, English has become the first foreign language that is taught at all levels of the Spanish education system. As a result, the portion of the population that speaks English has grown to the extent that Spanish citizens of English origin have had a challenge in learning Spanish(Lujan-Garcia 2-4).It is, therefore, untrue that Spanish people dont speak English. Also, such notion (as advanced by persons who speak English as their first language) need to recognize that native speakers of English hardly take the initiative to learn a second language due to its pervasiveness around the world.
In conclusion, stereotypes depict Spanish people as individuals who all love bullfighting, are perpetual latecomers in meetings, lazy and have little grasp of the English language. While is some of these notions have some truth, evidence suggests that they are either exaggerated or do not respect the culture of the Spanish people. For instance, the perception that Spanish people are lazy fails to recognize that Spanish people mind so much about health-work balance, believe in relationship building in regards to punctuality, lack access to job opportunities similar to other developed nations. Given the above facts, their way of life should be appreciated because it can never be similar to any other country.
Lazaro, Margarita. "12 Stereotypes About The Spanish That Are Totally NOT True." The Huffington Post [New York] 2014: n. pag. Web.
Lujan-Garcia, Carmen. Impact of English on Spanish life and pedagogical implications. Diss. University of Las Palmas , 2012. Web.
Hernandez, Emily. Email interview.27th February, 2017.
Mestre, Rosanna, Antonia Del Rey, and Konstantin Stanishevski. "The Image of Spain as Tourist Destination Built Through Fictional Cinema." Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 24.2-3 (2008): 185-194. Print.
Yardley, Jim. "Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if Its Time to Reset Clock." The New York Times [New York] 2014. Web.
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