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Cultural Differences Related to Families in The United States and Brazil

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In all cultures, people have different values, beliefs and traditions that make their cultures unique. Cultures do not vary only from country to country, but they also vary from family to family. In the United States there are many different ethnicities, races and genders which come together and form families. Since there are so many different combinations it causes for slight differences in cultures from family to family, but overall, there are some cultural ideas that are consistent between most all families in the United States. In this paper cultural differences related to families in the United States are going to be compared to those of families in Brazil comparing specifically housing and geographic location, religion, technology and mass media, socio-cultural beliefs and values, economics, socio-political systems and structures, dietary habits and body image, education, and access of health care.

Housing and Geographic Location: Brazil is the largest country in South America with a population of 186 million people, most of which live in urban areas. In Brazil there is a large issue with people who live below the poverty live. This causes about 20 percent of the population to have to live in favelas where each resident will construct their own home using materials that have been found and were free (Boyer, 2005). Brazil being such a large country it boarders many other countries in South American and consists of many different types of terrain like; mountains, coastlines, jungles, rivers and rolling plains (Meyer, 2010). Differences in housing do occur between the United States and Brazil. There are differences in the characteristics, conditions and especially the cost of housing in the United States. The population of the United States is much larger than that of Brazil around 328 million and the cost of housing is much higher due to the income of the people being higher. (Carliner & Marya, 2016). Since the cost of housing is greater this means that the quality of housing is also better in the United States then in the favelas of Brazil. There are differences in the geographic location and housing of the United States and Brazil and in this factor the United States has better housing opportunities.

Religion: Religion is an important factor in the culture of Brazil. Results from a census say that 90 percent of citizens in Brazil practice some sort of religion, which means there are many different kinds of religions practiced in Brazil, Catholic being the most common (Meyer, 2010). The amount that a religion impacts a family’s daily life varies based on the religion that they practice and how dedicated and traditional they are with the religion, like in the United States. The most common religion in the United States is Protestant which makes up 52 percent of the 83 percent of people who say they have a religious preference in the United States. Religion is very common in both the United States and Brazil the main difference between them being the religion that is most common.

Technology and Mass Media: Technology in Brazil allows for people to experience mass media. Mass media is very common in Brazil for the people who can afford it. One form of mass media in Brazil is TV Globo’s which is watched by 42 percent of households in Brazil (Porto, 2007). Overtime this television station has transitioned from a more authoritarian model of broadcasting to a more open form of broadcasting which means the media is more representative of the viewers interests (Porto, 2007). This impacts families in Brazil because it is the way that many receive information about what is going on and, in some cases, it may get the family together to watch to television. This could also hurt the people who do not have televisions putting them at a disadvantage. Technology in the United States allows for mass media and communication to happen. There are many different forms of medias that Americans use. YouTube is an example of this, in the 2008 election, the presidential candidates were able to answer questions that were posed to them during a live YouTube streaming. This shows that media and technology play a large role in the lives of many Americans. Both Brazil and the United States use forms of technology like mass media to communicate and receive information making it easier for families to stay informed with what is going on.

Socio-Cultural Beliefs and Values: Socio-cultural values are the beliefs and traditions that essentially influence people’s behaviors. In Brazil it is typical for about 40 percent of women to work, however the man of the household is still considered the provider of the family (Advameg, 2012). It is normal for elderly to live near or sometimes even with their children who will be there to help take care and watch over them. One tradition that is common is the tradition of folk literature. This has the potential to bring a family together to tell these stories and for them to be passed on in the futures. In the United States everyone is to have equal opportunity and it is common for women to work outside the home too. It is common in the United States for children to move away from their families if there are better opportunities elsewhere, so this means the elderly will not always have family nearby taking care of them (Kohls, 1984). People in the United states also have traditions many of which revolve around the holidays and family that will be carried on. The United State and Brazil have similar gender roles in their families, but there does exist differences in the living arrangements of the families.

Economics: Brazil has a thriving economy and is the seventh largest in the world by purchasing parity (Meyers, 2011). The GDP is about $2.09 trillion and is expected to increase 5 percent every year and the gross national income is $3.32 trillion. The labor force of Brazil is 1.4 million people and 6 percent of the population is unemployed (Meyers, 2011). Brazil exports their goods to China, the United States, Argentina, the Netherlands and Germany and they import goods from all those countries as well as Japan. The United States has a GDP and gross national income of about $20.5 trillion. The Labor force is about 165,000 people and the unemployment rate is about 6.7 percent (Division of Labor Force Statistics, 2020). The United States imports from 60 different countries and exports to 53 different countries (US Department of Commerce, 2018). Overall, the United States has a better economy then Brazil, but they both have very good economies.

Socio-Political Systems and Structures: In Brazil they have a democratic government which means that the people get to elect someone who will lead their country (Meyer, 2010). To vote in Brazil, you must be at least 18 years of age (Meyer, 2010). There are three branches in the government there: the judicial, the executive and the legislative branches (Meyer, 2010). The United States also operate with a democratic form of government with the same three branches of government. The executive holds executive power, the legislative has legislative power and the judicial has a lot of power within the legal system (Meyers, 2010). The United States and Brazil have governments that function very similarly to one another.

Food, Dietary Habits and Body Image: In Brazil, people eat a lot of beans, rice and meat and they usually eat three meals a day (Spoon Foundation, 2010). There is concern in Brazil because younger Brazilians are overweight, and some children are not getting enough nutrition due to not having enough money to eat enough. Body image does not have too large of an impact on food choices, but if someone is overweight, they will diet in efforts to try and get to a more appropriate weight. Diets in America consist of much different foods like excess sodium, saturated fat, refined grains, and colors from fats and added sugars. An estimate of 35% of adults in America are overweight (Walker, 2015). In the United States and Brazil there are differences in the types of foods they eat and in Brazil the younger are more likely to be overweight versus in the United States there are more adults that are overweight.

Education: In Brazil there are both public and private schools that the government regulates the education by creating guidelines they must follow. Public school is free but is considered inferior to private school which is very costly. The literacy rate is 93 percent (Meyer, 2010). School is required and available for children between the ages of 7-14, but in the more rural areas many work to provide for the family instead and many students just do not complete school. The students that do complete school have the option to also attend one of the many universities located in Brazil. The United States has a literary rate of about 86 percent (Loo, 2018). Besides this, the educational system in the United States is very similar, but there is a higher rate in the number of students that complete high school and move onto the college level.

Access and Utilization of Health Care: Healthcare in Brazil can be either public or private and the most common health system is funded with tax revenues and contributions form the federal state which allows for anyone to receive any type of medical treatment free of charge because they believe everyone deserve an equal opportunity for medical care. There are 452,777 registered physicians in Brazil, and they are spread throughout the country, but it is most common to find them in larger and wealthier cities. In the United State, the government provides health care for people with disabilities and people who are over the age of 65 and besides this, private insurance is the most dominant form of health coverage in the US and it is usually supplied by a employer. Although most people have insurance, there are still 8.5 percent of people that are uninsured. The differences in healthcare between Brazil and the United States is that in Brazil healthcare is typical supplied by the government and in the United States it is supplied privately through employers.

Brazil and the United States are very similar in many different aspects. The two are very similar in the topics of religion, technology and mass media, socio-cultural beliefs and values, economics, socio-political systems, and education. There are differences in housing, food and dietary habits and body image and access and utilization of healthcare. In conclusion, all nine of these different factors affect the culture of families in the United States and Brazil differently.   

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