Culture and Its Social Contracts

The comprehension of culture has always been considered fundamental in
the understanding of the behavior and traits of individuals in
particular societies. Culture is defined as the totality of the socially
transmitted beliefs, behavioral patterns, institutions, arts, as well as
all other products pertaining to human thought and work. While this is
the case, the behavior of human beings has mainly been dictated by the
rules and regulations pertaining to the governing bodies under which the
individuals live (Haerens, 2011). This is especially considering the
social contract under which contemporary human societies live, where
they surrender their rights and freedoms to the state so as to allow the
state to safeguard their remaining freedoms and rights. This may be
clearly understood through close examination of the Latino community or
culture, within the precincts of the economic, social and political
Economic structure of the Latino culture
The closing years of the 20th century came with fundamental changes in
the socioeconomic landscape of the United States society as evidenced by
its Latinization. As at 2009, Latinos were projected to occupy the rank
of the largest ethnic minority group (Haerens, 2011). While the society
experienced increases in population, as well as economic, educational
and political advances in the last several decades, about a third of its
populace wallow in poverty. Indeed, a large number of Latino workers are
relegated to the lowest rungs in the United States economy, where they
find themselves becoming increasingly re-concentrated and displaced in
conditions of structural unemployment and underemployment (Avalos,
The socioeconomic situation in which Latinos live may be directly traced
back to the inexorable emergence of the global economy, as well as the
recent economic policies pertaining to expansion especially NAFTA. NAFTA
has reduced the participation of Latinos in labor provision through
transferring well-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry to other
“cheap labor” manufacturing centers throughout the world (Avalos,
Social structures of the Latino community
Latino American families are fundamentally characterized by the extended
family, which undertakes a key role in the lives of family members. In
essence, there is frequent interaction and strong bonds among numerous
kin, with individuals in the extended families living either nearby or
within the same compound. Apart from their cooperative nature,
individuals are expected to place the familial needs ahead of their own,
an aspect that has resulted in the erroneous conclusion that individual
advancement and achievement is impeded by family (Arreola, 2004). At an
extremely early age, Latino American kids are expected to learn the
importance of rigid sex role definitions, deep familiar
responsibilities, reverent and respectful treatment accorded to the
elderly, as well as the position of the man that comes with authority
and respect in the family. As much as a considerable proportion of the
male authority may gradually be decreasing as the role of women
continues to be redefined, scholars have noted that women in Latino
communities are still taking up a subordinate position (Arreola, 2004).
Indeed, fathers are accorded authority and prestige, with sons having
significantly more independence at an earlier age compared to daughters.
Underlining the value that Latinos place on the extended family
structure is the fact that parents usually arrange for companion parents
or godparents for a child. This also shows that Latinos place immense
value on other adults apart from the immediate parents (García, 2003).
Not only would these “alternative” parents give advice and correct
the child, but they are also expected to respond to the needs of the
Political structures of Latinos
García, 2003). Indeed, the increasingly visible participation by the
Latino community underlined the broadening and expansion of the Latino
political community.
How the development of this culture has been affected by its social



!tend to gravitate around their own, which is why scholars have believed
that their familial ties have been coming between them and their
progress both as individuals and as communities at large (García,
Haerens, M. (2011). The U.S. Latino community. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven
Arreola, D. D. (2004). Hispanic spaces, Latino places: Community and
cultural diversity in contemporary America. Austin: University of Texas
García, B. L. (2009). Latino politics. Cambridge: Polity.
García, J. A. (2003). Latino politics in America: Community, culture,
and interests. Lanham, Md. [u.a.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Avalos, H. (2004). Introduction to the U.S. Latina and Latino religious
experience. Boston: Brill Academic.

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