Both the Chinese-American and Mexican-American Communities Are Subcultures of the Larger

Both the Chinese-American and Mexican-American Communities Are Subcultures of the Larger



Both the Chinese-American and Mexican-American communities are subcultures of the larger American culture. Both subcultures inevitably truncate numerous differences and additional subcultures and even countercultures. Yet, the Mexican-Americans and the Chinese-Americans share some similarities, face and/or have faced numerous political and legal obstacles to inclusion within greater American society and have alternately struggled with the maintenance of language, tradition, relationships and culture in a dichotomous American society (Cooper,, n.d., p. 1-3). Because of the latter, every group is viewed as either “Us” or “Other.” While both Mexican-Americans and Chinese-American possess worldviews unlike the American exclusionary dichotomy, both subcultures integrate and accommodate non-ethnic members through customs and conventions and through levels of communication (Cooper,, n.d., p. 2; Miller, 2003, p. 350-353). Nevertheless, the central role culture, belonging and tradition play cannot be overlooked. Each seeks the recreation of their homelands in some fashion and/or form and its perpetuation thereof (Pardo, 1998, p. 2). For these reasons, this paper will explore the societal and familial orientation of both Chinese-Americans and Mexican-Americans, the modes and methods of communication, collectivism, kinship and adaptive strategies in the face of numerous legal and political obstacles. This becomes clear through exploration.

Chinese Americans

Chinese Americans have experienced numerous levels of exclusion in America including but not limited to the Chinese Exclusionary Act (U.S. National Archives and Research Administration, 2011). Traditionally valued for their work on the railroads in the U.S., numerous reports reveal that they were not expected to live. Nevertheless, traditional adaptive strategies, collectivism and innovation coauthored their survival and their place within American society. Notably, these included the Chinese migrant networks, kinship and fictive kinship, the Paper Sons strategies and the like (Digital History, 2011). Because family and distant relations are interwoven through the family and the terms signifying them, the bonds are strong (Cooper,, n.d., p. 2; NAFSA, 2011). Moreover, shared hometowns and regions and provinces bind people together through food, language and culture and reaffirm the ties that bind (Miller, 2002; NAFSA, 2011).

For understandable reasons, threats or perceived threats are met with diplomacy and more middle way modalities such as US China Friendship memberships, Chinese-American societies mirroring mediation. After all, worldview for Chinese-Americans inherently extends an inclusionary dichotomy (Markus and Kitayama, 1991, p. 227). The world is comprised of this AND that. Accordingly, Chinese-Americans can and do adopt American culture artifacts and engage within its participatory spheres blending Chinese and American through self-determined means. Understandably then, members of Chinese-American society will greet each other through codified means and/or partake of conversations in one’s local language, if shared, or either Mandarin or Cantonese.

As exemplified by the concept map, the family and migrant networks reinforce language and culture, life for its members and those in the Motherland in cyclical nature. As in times past, these networks and families moderate and mitigate difficulties encountered politically. Immigration for Chinese still proves difficult. Chinese families, kinships and networks facilitate the process and acculturation (Markus and Kitayama, 1991, p. 227; Cooper,, n.d., p. 2).

Mexican Americans

Mexican-Americans have a dissimilar history with America than their Chinese-American counterparts. Due to the expansion of America, the numerous wars, shifting borders and the disparate economic conditions inside Mexico, migrant workers and migrants gave rise to the burgeoning Mexican-American population (Pardo, 1998, p. 1-5). Because of this, perhaps, the sheer number of Mexican-Americans and the rise of numerous Spanish television and radio stations in America, the Mexican-Americans and Hispanic-American population has faced more significant challenges correlative labor, wages, immigration and citizenship than other ethnic subcultures have in recent years (p. 2-6). Yet, the adaptive strategies engaged by the Mexican-American community and/or its politicization differ significantly from those engaged by the Chinese-American community. Perhaps, this is because the number of Mexican-Americans in America is superior to those of the Chinese-Americans. Regardless, many of their subcultures aspects mirror those of the Chinese-Americans. After all, both are collective cultures. Yet, these aspects become clear through concept map exploration.

*Not necessarily mutually exclusive of other religions including Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism (Hall, 2006).

**Either Mandarin or Cantonese.

Concept Map Analysis

Although the concept maps elucidate similarities especially correlative family reciprocity, migrant networks, cultural enclaves and remittances, several differences also emanate. Among them, the extended families the Mexican-Americans have in the United States and the greater number of offspring differs significantly from the Chinese-Americans. Moreover, Chinese language, Cantonese and mandarin are truncated within the language category. Since both are mutually unintelligible, they illuminate a subculture category therein. Also, the Chinese-Americans practices one or more religions whereas the Mexican-Americans are generally Catholic due to their ancestral colonial experience and the Conquest. Yet, the Catholic religion also engenders more offspring because of its tenets and beliefs, reinforces the familial rituals and obligations and therefore promotes and encourages familial responsibilities. After all, older siblings often tend to younger ones as parents also provide for their parents (Dipple, 2001; Cooper,, n.d., p. 2-3). Accordingly, everyone is engaged in child-rearing and childcare. Yet, this interlinking and this shared responsibility reinforce and reaffirm traditional culture, beliefs and language (Dipple, 2011). Because resources are shared among so many people, higher education might be out of reach for more Mexican-Americans.


After reviewing these concept maps in light of other research, the subculture contrast and comparison elucidate several factors. Whereas Chinese students are expected to conform, to be self-reflexive and self-corrective because of individual and family face, Mexican-Americans find themselves caught within two worlds in a very dissimilar way (Markus and Kitayama, 1991, p. 224, 226). Not only do they have more siblings and more familial responsibility but they are much more rooted to their relatives and extended families because of the number within the United States. Since their employment, residence and social life is tied to the family and the migrant, Mexican-American network and enclaves and alternately reinforced by Catholic worship and shared faith, the family serves as the connection between Mexican-Americans and their relatives in Mexico (Pardo, 1998).

Accordingly, their responsibilities to these relatives in Mexico are often more than monetary. Rather, they are also expected to introduce them to better opportunities and/or send remittances in order to maintain their places in Mexican-American society, as well (Pardo, 1998; Vincini, 2010). Because Mexico is proximal and the number of migrant workers and illegal immigrants has grown over recent years, laws such as those proposed by Arizona contending that it can ask for identification for any reason and others not yet enacted targeting citizenship by birth have drawn considerable attention (Vincini, 2010). Not surprisingly, they have inspired rallies not unlike those in Southern California regarding Mexican-American participatory rights in American society (Pardo, 1998, p. 1-3).

While both the Chinese-Americans and the Mexican-Americans literally live in two worlds, understanding how their families interact, cultivate life, culture and the perpetuation thereof helps me understand why members of either of these subcultures might experience difficulties including but not limited to alienation, discrimination, parental and/or peer pressures and/or zero expectations. All of these can and do inform learning strategies and teaching strategies, by extension.


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