UK National Stereotypes Essay.
Personality tests indicate that national stereotypes are constructed on the basis of prejudices and rumours. “Themselves” consider them to be superior in all respects to anyone else in the world, allowing other nations to assume a number of qualities, becoming less in number as these countries move away – the farthest country being the poorest in quality. Who are these “themselves”? The Americans, the Germans or the British?
They are the Persian, described by the Greek historian Herodotus, in the fifth century before Christ, but this description could be made about almost anyone.
Nations tend to treat their people as more or less perfect, while the rest the world is somewhat strange. Most times, nationalistic selfishness is doubled national stereotypes. The Germans are believed to be extremely serious, the Swedes – boring, about the French is said they are conceited. But do these stereotypes have a real basis?
Some stereotypes seem to be anchored to a certain extent in reality, to start from a “kernel of truth”.
Women are generally considered to have a warm personality and men to be rational: women tend to obtain higher scores on tests of personality than men to chapters relating to heat, while men seem inclined to rational side. In the attempt to get an “average of personality” for each culture, differences in average national figures were small compared to differences between members of each cultural group.
There was no a surprise to find that people who lived close to each other showed similarities in terms of personality: the Americans seemed with the Canadians, the South Koreans resemble the Chinese, the South Africans look like people in Zimbabwe. But what is the explanation of these differences? Ellen Churchill Semple wrote at the end of last century that “man is a product of earth surface”. Scottish were dull because they were constantly forced to bear the rain, and Swedes were boring because … Sweden was also boring.
This “environmental determinism” showed the negative side when, with genetic determinism, has become the basis of Nazi ideology. When these two concepts became “out of favour” of all nations after the war, they were replaced by cultural determinism. Culture, not the genetic or the environmental heritage, was the factor on which the differences between people were placed. Information provided by Allik McCrae indicates that there could be a number of geographical influences: people who live in countries with warm climates tend to be more open and extroverted, for example.
However, the cultural determinism may also have some exceptions: white South Africans have many features in common with Europeans than with black South Africans; also features of the inhabitants of England and Northern Ireland are different. Genetic evolution in recent decades brought back into light the genetic determinism. A number of genetic differences between the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Hebrew, Africans and Indians were discovered. So, may the genetic differences lead to differences in personality?
In the most recent study of Robert McCrae, subjects were asked to evaluate not their own personality but that of a “typical” member of their community. In this context, stereotypes have been revealed: the Germans self-assessed them as being extremely conscientious as people, Australians were described as extroverted, and Canadians were considered to be more agreeable than other people. But these projections of stereotypes are more or less related to the “average personality” of citizens of each country. Germans consider they are conscientious, but attribute this quality to the Turks also, who assess themselves as being rather lazy.
Residents of Puerto Rico see themselves as extremely extroverted, but they are more open than the French Swiss, who are assessed as being introverted. How are these stereotypes reflected in the perception of English people? Over the years, the English were associated with a type of strict conduct and a set of rules of etiquette that have conferred status of civilized but stiff people , – and often those unwritten laws of society have made them look cool or snobbish compared to other cultures considered more open and welcoming. The Englishman dresses in tweed or striped three-piece suit and a Burberry raincoat during rainy days.
Gate bowler leads a tight black umbrella with cane handle and thrust a pink paper left at the armpit. He goes to church on Sunday morning and eats roast beef with Yorkshire souffle Sunday at noon. He is a principled man, insists on fair play behaviour for competitors with low chances of winning, doing things properly and showing more affection for horses, cats and dogs than children, foxes and grouse. He studied at Eton and Oxford probably and attends clubs such as: Ascot, Wimbledon, Twickenham, Lord’s and Wentworth. He believes in monarchy, empire and the Conservative Party.
When they are not at the club (ladies cannot be here) you find them in the local (pub) with gardeners and security guards drinking a sip of warm beer, called real beer. Often takes the tea with the vicar, with whom he discusses about the Church of England, land cultivation, poaching, and years spent in holiday village guard. The Englishmen love cricket, croquet, rugby, Sheepdogs, detective story and standing at queues. When the queue goes slowly, they do not complain, because the English must not make scenes ever, even if their family name is spelled with a hyphen.
This persistent stereotype of the British character has been imprinted in the minds of other peoples by several generations through British movies. Sizeable populations worldwide, that include the Japanese, the Indians, the Africans and the Southeast Asians still share this idea and send their children to England to receive this type of education. Most of the British people no longer have too many similarities to the stereotype mentioned. Not only it is the primary instance of a character of high society from a vanished era, but does not take account of regional differences, which in Britain are extremely obvious.
First of all, almost 10 million British are Celts (the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish, the Cornish and the Manx). They are essentially romantic, poetic and sensitive. They, like millions of central and northern England, living in the wilderness beyond Oxford, are particularly critical with the typical Englishman existing in the mind foreigners. There is a kind of Englishman that corresponds roughly to the projected image, but it is to the Englishman in the South, the exponent of the high society and is almost extinct!
Even in the south, one can speak of a small very fraction of the society, although often highly visible. The Brits in North, Central and the Celtic have more affinities with some Europeans (Norway, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Belgian, German, and Swiss) than with character dressed in tweed. Who are the real English? The global picture seems with the reality, but not too much. Class system in England is still an unfortunate anachronism now that North America and most European countries have been dispersed but in reality it is considered that most Britons are middle class.
It is true that the British like detective story. Novelist Agatha Christie is the novelist with most translated works in the world, and Britain was first in the world in terms of books borrowed from the library. Sherlock Holmes is one of England’s most famous and popular Englishman of all time. The truth is that the British have a strong predisposition to enjoy conspiracy plot. Extensive most beloved characters in British drama are negative. Apparently refined and sophisticated in diplomacy, the British are the masters of gathering information and political blackmail.
Still, Britain`s people are considered honest, reasonable, careful and delicate. Originality is often bordered with eccentricity, but it is true that in history, they were adept at lateral thinking, which is based on the almighty power of imagination. Often showing an aptitude for study, but also scatter they can excel in science and technology. Described as a nation of amateur that find solutions with difficulty in crisis situations, they have found inner strength in the hardest tests. Their insularity is incurable.
Standard habits, fixed ideas, slow changes, unprofessional people – how do these features apply in the British way of doing business? How should this oddity be handled? The British feel at home along with other English speaking nationalities, from which face little difficulty in establishing a stable but effective relationship. They feel at ease Nordic people, Dutch and with the Japanese. They believe they have found a middle way between excessive formality (French and German trends) and premature familiarity (features American, Australian).
When negotiating with the most prosperous South English, with a developed class consciousness, you should stress out the civilized, educated size; when you deal with the British in the north, the Scottish or Welsh, with more practicality, emphasis should be on sincerity and the direct negotiations, without complications. In short, humour is considered one of the most effective weapons available to the British manager, and you can win the British trust if you can compete with them in this area (Swiss, Austrians, Turks and Germans have difficulties in this regard).
During the meetings, British managers try to appear as being guided by moderation, willingness to compromise and common sense. It must be noted that there are certain rules of etiquette that must be respected, but should not be followed just because English society requires, but because they are common sense rules that ensure the smooth running of society, but also respect for the individual in question, and the others. Punctuality is essential for the English, but to get a few minutes early, for sure, is accepted.
The English are not very familiar with the foreign and do not like effusion in public. The standard greeting is a simple handshake. Also, personal space (the distance from other people) is strictly observed and touching in public, even without non-explicit sexual nature, must be avoided at all costs. Also, the British avoid to talk about thorny issues or themes considered almost “taboo”, like religion, salary, personal life or sexual themes, which is instead subject on the agenda and a completely harmless one, is … the weather. Also, negative references to the royal family should be avoided.
The English are very protocol when it comes to titles, so particular attention must be paid to the presentation and the form of address, when you speak to someone. In universities, but also at work, there are different degrees of familiarity that should be respected as such. For example, if a superior position include a PhD or Professor (in Britain, the title of Professor is the highest), then we must politely address or refer to the person concerned, always using that title given to him, except the case you are asked to give up the formalities.
However, non-academic society and outside work is very open and free of unnecessary formalities. Often, in the university familiarities are permitted, especially to young teachers who have the title of Lecturer. All taken into consideration, it seems that such perceptions are in fact social constructions based on unfounded information and prejudices. National stereotypes can seem relatively harmless but they may have adverse effects to lead to prejudice, misguidance, discrimination or even genocide. Pointing out that stereotypes are false should help to eliminate them.