Preview: Várnai Zsanett - Common national stereotypes and their impact on Hungarys trade relations

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http://www.doksi.hu BUDAPESTI GAZDASÁGI FŐISKOLA KÜLKERESKEDELMI FŐISKOLAI KAR GAZDASÁGDIPLOMÁCIA ÉS NEMZETKÖZI MENEDZSMENT SZAK NAPPALI tagozat TOLMÁCS ÉS SZAKFORDÍTÓ szakirány COMMON NATIONAL STEREOTYPES AND THEIR IMPACT ON HUNGARY’S TRADE RELATIONS Készítette: Várnai Zsanett Budapest, 2009. http://www.doksi.hu CONTENTS Page Preface I. 4 The Existence of Stereotypes (or Reading a Book by the Cover) 1. The Birth of Stereotypes 6 2. Influence of Social Groups on Individual Attitudes 9 3. Persistence of Stereotypes (Classification) 12 4. 17 Common National Stereotypes 5. The Responsibility of the Media in Forming Public Opinion II. 24 The Impact of National Stereotypes 1. Self-Stereotypes of the Hungarians 32 2. Cultural Differences in Hungary 34 ƒ The Situation of the Jews in Hungary 35 ƒ The Roma or Gipsy Communities in Hungary 39 3. Hungarians with the Eyes of Foreigners 42 (Evaluation of Personal Survey) III. The Pros and Cons of

Stereotypes in the Business Encounter and Trade Relations of Hungary VI. Conclusion 47 55 Appendix: Questionnaire 56 Sources used 58 http://www.doksi.hu PREFACE Everybody knows something about stereotypes, since it has become a rather popular and often used term for the past decades. We know that a stereotype is a kind of classification, born in our minds to “help” us make distinctions. We are aware that they should not and also cannot be used to refer to each and every person included in a certain group of people in question. We even have the tendency to believe that we ourselves are different and restrain from generalizations. However – and unfortunately we do apply them because stereotypes somehow provide us with „the easy guideline” to follow when having to make a distinctions. Think of the evergreen Hungarian jokes labelling blonde women naive and not too intellectual, and actually the very same preconceptions refer to policemen in Hungary in terms of joking.

And most of the times we do laugh at these because we find them funny without hardly ever considering them being harmful, or even destructive. In everyday life we do not seem to pay much attention as long as it is not us who are labelled in a negative way,. This phenomenon is a lot more dangerous at an international level. National stereotypes are very hard, if not impossible, to overcome in the cross-cultural encounter. They seem to label a much wider range of people according to where they come from. It is certain that many people have found themselves judged in a negative (or more rarely positive) way because of their nationalities. The question is if anything can be done to stop blossoming stereotypes. In my thesis I am going to reveal several reasons why and how stereotypes (either positive or negative) work psychologically and in practice. How they emerge and if they have any truth or are completely false, and also how they can be eliminated, if at all. I am going to describe the

main characteristics and significance of stereotypes from different angles. To understand the impact of preconceptions and generalizations I will also look into the problem of the two most significant minorities in Hungary, namely the situation of the 4 http://www.doksi.hu Jews, and also that of the Roma and Gipsy communities, as ethnic minorities. I am also going to examine the resonsibility of the media in this issue. Furthermore, I am going to show through examples how stereotypes concerning us, Hungarians can effect the way we are regarded in general or at an international level, the way they can influence our cross-cultural relations and business partnerships, and will give examples to illustrate how we ourselves may be responsible for being judged the way we are. In the last chapter I am going to examine what impacts preconceptions and stereotypes have on Hungarian trade relations with foreigners. These personal observations will mainly be based on the experience gained at my

place of training at a domestic company. I made a small survey among foreign business partners and personal acquaintances who willingly took part in the poll. After evaluating the replies received in the survey, the results revealed many hidden preconceptions about us, that we may not have been aware of earlier. Finally, I am going to show the details of the research and draw the consequences. 5 http://www.doksi.hu I. THE EXISTENCE OF STEREOTYPES (OR READING A BOOK BY THE COVER) "A stereotype is a preconceived and oversimplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person, situation, etc.; an attitude based on such a preconception. Also, a person who appears to conform closely to the idea of a type."1 The expression „stereotype” has become quite an often-used term in the past decades. When we think that a statement is being a cliché, and want to argue our adverse point, we usually say that ”Oh, that’s just a common stereotype, you know”. However, we may

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not be completely aware where these stereotypes come from and how backward, persistent and therefore harmful they are. In this chapter I would like to put the emphasis on the development of stereotypes: what factors there are to influence their evolution, how long they can stay afloat and into what dangerous dimensions they can accelerate when seeded in a receptively fertile soil. 1. The Birth of Stereotypes The term “stereotype” originally referred to a stamp used in the printing industry to make multiple copies from one single block. The first one to adopt this notion, to describe the way society categorized people, was social psychologist Walter Lippmann in 1922, in his book on media and democracy, Public Opinion. He described the term as “the picture (of the world) that a person has in his/her head”2. He was convinced that as a picture it is definite, and reduces the world to simple characteristics which are represented as permanent by nature. 1 2 from the Oxford English

Dictionary Walter Lippmann: Public Opinion 6 http://www.doksi.hu Gordon Allport3, another social psychologist, illustrates stereotype as a conviction that is associated with a category. This means that a stereotype is a function to justify our actions in relation to a specific category, i.e. stereotypes become inner representations of the world around us. A stereotype, by another definition4, is a tool we use to complete or recreate our memories. It is a set of assumptions characterising a group of people created on the grounds of an individual’s personality or distinctive physical features. Everybody has a picture of the typical German (who is intelligent, extremely meticulous and sober) or the typical Italian (who on the other hand has great artistic skills, is very carefree and good tempered) Experiments5 proved that stereotypes can have an adversely related effect on human memory. When we listen to somebody giving a somewhat neutral description of a person, and later get to

know that the person in question belongs to a certain group, we are likely to increase the adaptation of characteristics of the group’s stereotype on the person and reduce the importance of the description of the individual we were given previously. Stereotypes are “patterns” providing a mental representation of groups and classes of people (see the example of the typical German or Italian described above), objects (what a table has to look like), events (for example an illustrous and highly secured coronation ceremony) or situations (how to drive a car). These patterns actually serve as an easy guideline to follow for the human brain. Thinking and perceiving in patterns allow us to filter, arrange and process economically the huge amount of information we are liable to day by day. Instead of perceiving and remembering every small detail of a new person or event, we only tend to recall it just like another pattern we are already familiar with, and besides we may record those

features which are different from the pattern. On one hand “economical cognition” comes at a price: namely, our assumptions of persons, objects and events 3 Gordon W. Allport: Az előítélet Szabó István: Bevezetés a szociálpszichológiába 5 Snyder and Uranowitz, 1978; Belezza and Bower, 1981 4 7 http://www.doksi.hu may become distorted in case they do not fit perfectly into that certain framework of patterns we have created in our minds. On the other hand, stereotyping is such a natural and common human function that occasionally it functions in a useful way. For one thing, it is sometimes worthwile to create classifications of individuals. The term "freshman" on college or university campuses brings a well-known image of a newcomer to our mind who is not familiar with the overall life of the campus. (Obviously many newcomers do not fit this image). Knowing this, professors and administrators pay more attention to these students in order to facilitate their

adatptation on the campus. Preconceptions and stereotypes are not only created by groups or categories. They themselves can create social categories, for example: what is normal and what is abnormal, who we are and who they are, and who the others are in relation to us. Such generalizations reduce, naturalize and tighten discrepancies, they block alternative ways to think about a conception or a category. The term "the others" basically refers to anyone who is regarded as different from the person we are, which means that the term “the others” has an impact on the development of a person’s identity. By limiting ourselves towards other people, a feeling of what is normal and where one belongs in the world is being created. We have seen how easy it is to generalize and create stereotypes and preconceptions. Nevertheless we do not generate them deliberately and by ourselves, we are given a “helping hand” by our families and the wider community we are raised in. That

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is what I am going to explain in the following section. 8 http://www.doksi.hu 2. The Influence of Social Groups on Individual Attitudes "It seems likely that” .....”if you dont even know what the people you live among are like, it isnt likely that your stereotypes [of other groups] are going to be correct" /Robert McCrae/ The social constructs of national stereotypes emerge from the historical experiences of people, their mythology, literature, policy, and social values of their communities. Unfortunately the community is often regarded to carry a fundamental law of nature and society within. Human behaviour is the interaction of personal features and environment. An individual’s behaviour and attitude is continuously formed and changed by real or imaginary impressions of other persons or group of people. In social psychology this phenomenon is called conformity. Most people actually believe that - opposed to others - they do make endeavours to see people the way

they are, while everybody else (but them) has the tendency to be motivated in order to win other persons’ good-will and sympathy6. A research7 has shown that the more private and colloquial the atmosphere is within a group the less strong conformity is. This means that individuals feel more free to speak their minds in front of people they know well, believe to know well or if they know that at least most of the members within that group would share their personal opinions. On the other hand within a group of people they do not know at all or that they think would disagree, conformity is very strong. People do not bother to explain a different point of view of theirs even if they do not agree with other members of the group, because – as described above – they are likely to join the majority. Problems occur when people cannot make their own decisions because they do not know about the thing in question, and thus decide to agree with other members of the group. That is again

another way stereotypes may emerge: people start to believe what “the others” (naturally in an aspirational group) tell them to think, even though they do 6 7 Elliot Aronson: A társas lény Solomon Asch: Opinions and Social Pressure (Scientific American, 1955/5) 9 http://www.doksi.hu not have the faintest idea. When someone is pressed to act according to other people’s patterns in a situation he or she has not found himself or herself before, this person will probably copy this pattern of behaviour in similar situations in the future, even if the original pattern or framework is not represented by other members of the group. This can only happen, though, until a highly respected person describes him or her an opposite point of view. As I already referred to it in the previous chapter, delimitations emerge between "we" and "them" or “the others” in most areas of our lives: there is limitation between our own family and other families, the own football

team and others, the own profession and others, and so on.. People can socially relate a lot more to those people who share the same values, interest, education, background, who are more or less from the same class, but they are more likely to share the views of people or groups they aspire to be part of. These persons or groups can become a very important source of information, and people might even show conformity to this person or group when describing their own feelings, i.e. giving out the most personal and most intimate emotions. Briefly stating, the influence of other persons or groups – whether they be deliberate or unintentional – can produce a significant effect on individuals’ behaviour, and thereby may have undesirable consequences on the whole society. There are three stages of social influence to distinguish8: Submission is the very first level. This may not require much attention regarding stereotypes, because in this case an individual only submits his or her

pattern of behaviour to the other person’s or group’s framework when being threatened or being remunerated by something. Submission therefore can only be perceived while the potential sanction or reward is in sight. Identification is the next stage, where the individual acts according to the patterns of another group because he or she aspires to be like them, or to be a member of the group in question. It is somewhat similar to submission in a way that the individual’s given pattern of behaviour does not arise from an intrinsic pursuit or need. On the contrary, 8 Elliot Aronson: A társas lény 10 http://www.doksi.hu he or she behaves that way in order to create a relation with the aspirational group or person in which his or her self definition is ultimately positive. However, the individual in this case cannot be considered submitted. The explanation to this is that he or she is likely to believe in the attitude and values of other persons or groups he or she desires to

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become alike - even though not for a prolonged period of time – and not because he or she is subject to any kind of threat or remuneration, opposed to the case of submission. Internalization, as a reaction to a group’s influence is the most persistent stage of impact, roots in the individual’s general pursuit for the truth. At this level adopting the other’s framework of attitude and behaviour means automatic self-remuneration for the individual. If we judge somebody reliable, competent and trustworthy, we will accept his or her views and adopt them as our own views and values. The main component of internalization is therefore trustworthiness. If we read something from a trustworthy – and most probably competent – person, we are likely to give way to his/her influence, because we fully believe it. Once we have adopted these views, they become ultimately independent from their source(s) and develop to be extremely persistent against potential changes. When it comes to an

individual changing his/her mind, power is considered to be the most important factor in case of submission. On the other, hand the identification-based influence can be terminated instinctively by the individual’s aim or desire for the truth. If someone has adopted a view during the period of identification, and afterwards happens to meet a person who is thought to be relaible and competent by the individual and wants to persuade him/her about a different point of view, he or she may change his/her mind because this person may have greater ifluence on the individual. The most important feature of identification is therefore the magnetism of the aspirational person or group. By identifying himself with the aspirational person, he unconsciously assimilates the views and values of the model. Nevertheless, we are likely to refuse the views and values of those who we do not like and are excluded from our aspirational group. 11 http://www.doksi.hu 3. The Persistence of Stereotypes

“...to think that something such as national stereotypes, that have endured for so long, will somehow be washed away”...”is wishful thinking. They draw from a deep well of tribalism, nationalism and community.” /Gerry McGovern/ The most obvious aspects in formulating categories are physical features (like physique, colour of skin, genders), the more complex aspects are the schemes of values and attitude represented by a group which are difficult to define. Stereotypes on groups, classes, nations were examined by many researchers (Brown, 1965; Campbell, 1967; Peabody, 1985). They all found that groups of people may have some features in common, but at the same time idividuals are different. Stereotypes about a group occur because experience accumulated from the past are stored in the collective memory. This collective knowledge has an effect on the views a group has about another. Stereotypes are therefore parts of the cultural heritage transmitted by the society.9 Psychology

states that a five-year-old can be aware of being part of a group (i.e. in the family, nursery, etc.) Children at the age of five can sense ethnic identity, though they do not understand it. They only become aware of it at the age of 9-10. This means that the first 10 years are of crucial importance in the formulation of a young person’s scheme of values which are normally seen and learnt from the parents. According to social psychologist Julian Rotter, attitude is formed in children by the way they are brought up. It is a pattern learnt in the course of socialization. In society the lack of knowledge of other cultures can also cause an individual to rely on stereotypes when dealing with, or formulating opinions about other races. This can accelerate into discriminatory behaviour when the individual finds himself/herself in a situation where he or she has to rely on stereotypes. There are several possible reasons why national stereotypes are not trustworthy. One is that some

stereotypes might have been accurate once, but are outdated. A second possibility is that stereotypes are born out of conflicts, with the victors imposing stereotypes. Yet another possibility is that national stereotypes have some truth — like how much people gesture or how closely they stand to speak to each other — but do not extend to individual personalities. 9 Hunyady György: Sztereotípiák a változó közgondolkodásban. 12 http://www.doksi.hu A great deal of psychological researches have shown that people tend to set aside information that doesnt fit with what they expect. For the most part, when we encounter people who contradict a stereotype, we have the tendency to perceive them as unique individuals rather than representatives of their national or cultural group. Stereotypes can cause a great deal of harm. Different groups can use negative stereotypes to discriminate against one another. Even though stereotypes mainly refer to social groups and roles, they are

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also used for judging people. Historical events and social changes are very determining for prejudices. For instance, between 1945 and 1948 Hungarian people were asked in a survey10 if saw any chance for the restoration of democracy in Germany. Because of the strong prejudice about the Germans, the majority replied that it was impossible for them to imagine. Both history and current events are full of examples in which unfavorable stereotypes contribute to prejudice, discrimination, persecution or even genocide. History is filled with tragic examples of this, such as the Holocaust and the roundup of Japanese-Americans during World War II. For example, in postcolonial racial ideologies the term "the others" legitimated the colonial powers’ right to occupy land, turn people into slaves and steal from the inhabitants. By creating an image of the others as barbarians and uncivilized animals - as a contrast to the civilized and highly developed Europeans - the native people of

the colonized areas were used as slaves, were suppressed and killed. This phenomenon can be psychologically explained by the fact that in this case native people were deprived of their human characteristics, i.e. dehumanized by those who considered their own culture being superior to theirs, or actually, that of anyone else. National sentiment may blossom unexpectedly and powerfully in connection with particular rituals or particular moments in history, only to vanish from view when the initial impulse vanishes. National stereotypes can be damaging for another reason. Wherever we get these stereotypes from, once we have them we are biased in the way we evaluate our experiences. Canadians, for instance, are stereotyped to be ambiguous, and actually they also perceive themselves as not being assertive. So if you meet a very assertive 10 Magyar Közvéleménykutató Szolgálat, 1945-1948 13 http://www.doksi.hu Canadian, you say Oh, hes an exception, and you simply ignore any

information that contradicts that stereotype. Stereotypes do not only have an impact on our perceptions and conclusions, but also influence our social behaviour and interactions. This fact also contributes to their persistence, because stereotypes somehow force us to show an attitude that fulfills our expectations towards stereotyped people. Our stereotypes can therefore be regarded self-supporting and self-fulfilling11. All significant cultural beliefs and values - characteristics reflected in public opinion are expressed through the use of stereotypes. There are negative stereotypes and also positive ones, so-called countertypes in our culture and they reflect the way society thinks about different people. A negative stereotype is obviously damaging, but countertypes can be disadvantageous as well, because we might overestimate the merits of a person who is being positively stereotyped (countertyped), and this relationship then may end in our disappointment. However, negative

stereotypes are more frequently present about many people in todays society. Most of the stereotypes are not correct and do not give a complete view of a specific group. Americans are assertive, Italians are very passionate, and Germans are the picture of efficiency. There are popular negative stereotypes about the Irish, Muslims, Asians African-American and homosexuals. The following categories are the most persistent ones when classifying stereotypes: Age: ‘all teenagers love to watch fiction movies, they play truant instead of going to school, wear leather jackets and love rock n’ roll.’Generalizations regarding age may have a slice of truth, because some characteristics of age are more or less the same in every society (e.g. elderly people’s memories are faded). Sex: ‘females are sensitive and men are aggressive’. There are different stereotypes commonly found for both genders, male and female, such as women are weak and more sensitive than men and men are more

aggressive and independent. This gender stereotype is also found in parent comparison. A negative stereotype about fathers is that they are not close to their children and treat them harshly and strictly and a 11 Gordon W. Allport: Az előítélet 14 http://www.doksi.hu common stereotype about mothers is that they are generous to their children and have more understanding of their children. There are similarly a lot of stereotypes for homosexuals. Gays and lesbians are mostly avoided by many around the world. A stereotype about homosexuals is that they use drugs and most of them have AIDS and HIV. Race: ‘all Asian people are trained in karate and hand fights’. This is a common stereotype transmitted about slanted-eyed people by the media – since we do not happen to get in contact with a lot of Asian people. I am going to explain this in details when describing the responsibility of media in Section 5. Religion: ‘all Muslims are terrorists’. These days there are various

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negative stereotypes about Muslims. Out of a population of 1,2 billion worldwide there are a few hundred terrorists who declare themselves Muslim. We should be aware that this does not mean that Islam promotes terrorism. Therefore mixing religion with terrorism produces a negative stereotype, and no doubt, prejudices play a major role in making these kinds of generalizations. Many western movies also show a negative stereotype of Muslims in different villain characters. Muslim women are not living a life which is perceived only positively in most of the western world. A very popular stereotype these days about Muslim women is that they have no voice, no freedom, no life. They are seen as suppressed women who are physically threatened by their husbands. However it is strange that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today, and the biggest number of converts is made up of Western women, but this issue is never highlighted. Certainly Western women do not choose Islam because

they find it oppressive but in fact, they are attracted to Islam for the respect and dignity that Islam demands for women. Country / Ethnic Groups: ‘the Irish drink and fight a lot’. Well, this is something that the Irish themselves might as well admit. They tend to believe that they are „the world’s best at it, and proud of it, too.”12 However, according to statistics, Ireland ranked as 12 Gerry McGovern: National stereotypes (22nd March, 1999) 15 http://www.doksi.hu having one of the lowest rate of alcohol consumers in Europe, well below that of the Netherlands, Spain and the UK for example. I may not need to explain that noone has the “drinking kind of” stereotype of these latter nations. The Irish are also considered to be a bit simple, but again Ireland is a country which was widely known as the ’Land Of Saints And Scholars’, producing half of Europe’s books. Financial Status: ‘all rich are proud, mean and self centered’. This preconception about the

rich is very common, because a social group with poor financial status is likely to feel suppressed by a welthier class, and their pejorative sentiments will be perpetuated in the formulation of stereotypes and prejudice13. One could say that the rich people tend to raise money and donations for charity purposes, but of course the answer would still be that it is only pittens, a very tiny part of their wealth, because they are mean to keep the rest for themselves. Marital status: married people are more responsible than bachelors or singles. The same preconceptions go with those who are divorced. In a sense this group of people are labelled at a subliminal, unconsciuos level being unsuccessful. It is a sad fact that perceiving these assumptions, divorced people themselves are likely to believe that if they couldn’t make their marriage work, they must be unable to organize their own lives and carreers. Profession: ‘businessmen are pushy, assertive and don’t seem to care about

anything but profit’. It is interesting that people tend to create national stereotypes matched with typical professions. For example we tend to associate the image of a typical American with that of a businessman or businesswoman in a striped suit or fancy costume. However capitalism and business life is similarly dominating in the United Kingdom, its just that there may be some discrepancies when we are to extrapolate this image on professions. 13 Hunyady György: Sztereotípiák a változó közgondolkodásban 16 http://www.doksi.hu 4. Common National Stereotypes “Heaven is where the police are English, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and everything is organized by the Italians.” This funny phrase above might as well seem a good joke to pop up in casual encounter. Communities, cultures

and nations have the unfortunate habit of thinking marvellously about themselves, and attributing strange things to other communities and cultures. National and cultural stereotypes play an important role in how people perceive themselves and others. We could say that it’s all right and we can get on well with it, as long as they do not become unfairly discriminative. And when they do can we only see how harmful and backward they are. One may question is if there is a slice of truth in them. Already Montesquieu – back in 1748 – believed that northerners, who live in cold climates, were shy, reserved and morose people, while he thought that southerners on the other hand were fun-loving, easy-going masters of passionate dances. As described, people are likely to refer automatically and unconsciously to their own thought framework, which is tied to national culture14. According to Taylor’s definition, “A culture is a complex and interrelated set of elements, comprising

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knowledge, beliefs and values, arts, law, manners and moral and all kinds of skills and habits acquired by a human being as a member of a particular society.” 14 Polyák Ildikó: Cross-Cultural Communication, p. 8, 9. 17 http://www.doksi.hu Generalizations about cultures or nationalities can therefore be a source of identity and also that of bad jokes, like this one: “How do you get three Canadians out of a swimming pool? The answer: You ask them. " - meaning that Canadians are stereotyped being altruistic and they will do what they are told. Jokes like this may sound provoking, but there is one important point to emphasize: we must not consider one culture or nation (most preferably ours) superior to any other and we cannot establish a hierarchy of cultures. This tendency – referred to as cultural relativism - states that cultures must always be evaluated according to their own values and not in terms of the values of other cultures or nations. As for the French

anthropologist Claude-Lévi Strauss “Cultural relativism affirms that one culture has no absolute criteria for judging the activities of another culture as “low” or “noble”. However, every culture can and should apply such judgment to its own activities, because its members are actors as well as observers.” 15 A one-year-old study16 compares “typical” personalities of many cultures with the personalities of real individuals. Researchers gathered nationality information on 3,989 people from 49 cultures using a specially designed survey in which people were asked to describe traits of their own cultures. It used five criteria that psychologists consider to be appropriate measures of an individuals personality: 1. extroversion (how outgoing someone is), 2. agreeableness (measuring a person’s cooperativeness and altruism), 3. conscientiousness (whether an individual is disciplined and structured), 4. neuroticism (how often someone experiences negative emotions like

anxiety or sadness), 5. open-mindedness (how open they are to new ideas and experiences).The scores showed - what one otherwise would have expected - that when applied to individuals within cultures national stereotypes have no scientific validity. 15 16 Definition by Claued-Lévi Strauss Terracciano, A. Science, Oct. 7, 2005; vol 310: pp 96-100. News release, National Institute on Aging. 18 http://www.doksi.hu The study has also shown that most of the times the stereotypes one group has about another agree with the stereotypes people within that group harbor about themselves. For example, Germans think of themselves in ways that are similar to what the Italian, French and British think of Germans. Let’s have a look at some European national stereotypes a bit more closely in the eyes of Hungarians. The Germans are in general thought to be somewhat arrogant, dominant and hardworking people especially in the fields of mechanic industry and finance.17 We appreciate their smart

preciseness. In private life, the people think that all Germans need is ‘Bier’ and ‘Wurst’, that is beer and sausage, and of course another German with whom they can dicscuss political issues. There are many negative stereotypes about the Germans arising from ou history. Unfortunately there are a lot of people in Hungary who are averse from them. To these people Germans’ behaviour strictly goes without any manner of restraint, they tend to regard Germans with a great deal of suspicion and hatred which they are eager to cover. They think that a German is only good when he is as far as can be. Fortunately most Hungarians have no problems with them in particular, they rather admire their ability to arrange everything without having to corrupt the redtape. The British 18 is a sentimental society which is often misunderstood. They are thought to play fast and loose because of not speaking their minds. But this is not hypocracy, the Brits only remain silent because they are so

well-mannered that they would do anything to stay away from hurting others’ feelings. Even when a policeman makes you stop your car, he would say ‘Sir, I’m afraid, you have exceeded the speed limit.’ We can admit that this would be very uncommon to expect in Hungary. Also a German policeman would probably not start beating about the bush, but rather shout at you for breaking the law. However this politeness of the Brits is not always shown in their attitude to foreigners. If a foreigner asks for directions, in the worst case he or she may get told off by an elderly British person for the inappropriate pronounciation or bad intonation, and might be given a grammar lesson but directions. On the other hand, the Brits are extremely well-mannered and they are more likely to help willingly. 17 18 Stefan Zeidenitz: Miért nem bírjuk a németeket? Descriptions of national characteristics are from the book of Richard Hill: Mi, európaiak 19 http://www.doksi.hu The French are

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curious individualists. The most common stereotype about the French in Hungary is that they are extremely nationalistic. This is probably because once a Hungarian person had the chance to visit France, he or she most probably tried to communicate with the French in either English or German, since these are the two foreign languages that are tought nationwide. Well, the average experience of the Hungarians was that the French were not very keen on answering in any of the two languages, but in their own, if at all. With Paris, the city of love,lights and cuisine, also being one of the most important centres in the world of fashion, Hungarians have the image that in France every person is a well-dressed lover or chef. Of course, they are a lot more than that. The typical French is straight and speaks his mind, his words lack all the hesitation and roundabouts of the typical English. They are self-confident and have the ability to make their point very convincingly. After all it was the

French to ‘invent’ value added tax, and afterwards sold their idea to the other members of the European Union. The French are very thoughtful not to present their feelings too soon, not to take risks or make any mistakes. French people are great analysts themselves. They usually say ‘All right. This seems to work in practice. I wonder if it works in theory, as well.’ No miracle that Woody Allen is popular in France. As E. Russell Eggers said, “had William Shakespeare been a French man, he probably would have added this one more sentence to his Hamlet monologue: “Être ou ne pas être. C’est la question. Mais la question est mal posée.” 19” The Spanish are equality-supporting egocentrics. They are thought to have a consistent and uncompromising temper by the Hungarians. The Spanish can be dinamic and inventive, but usually Hungarians have an image of them having siesta in the shade with a big sombrero-like hat on their head. This is an exaggeration of course. Now and

then they were described in many untrue ways in the past few centuries mainly by some well-intentioned French, that’s why Carmen, Don Juan, Don Quijote were given more or less the same image. The Spanish people are in general very down-to-earth, respect their roots to a surprising extent, but they are not too sentimental. Women figures are traditionally strong and energetic. The Italians are real born aesthetes. They love to live a good life with much love and imagination, and are satisfied with what they are like. They are sometimes associated 19 „To be or not to be. That is the question. But the question is badly posed.” 20 http://www.doksi.hu with laziness, but they are by far not so easy as Hungarians would think. They can work hard, and people should not care much if they claim to be the best lovers ever. After all it was them to establish the most creative and most democratic culture in WesternEurope. Italians have already proved their talent for arts back in the

Renaissance. This may also contribute to the fact that everywhere else in the world but in Italy the main point, the most important is the person itself and other things like appearance are regarded secondary. In Italy the image – paying increased attention to appearence - and the show surrounding the person is primary to everything else. (It’s not very surprising, since Milan is also a highly famous city of fashion.) The Italians are therefore really theatrical, cheekily straightaway and are likely to change their mood and personality from one minute to the other. However they are not so good at politics, and sometimes find it hard to identify with their national interests. The Swiss are down-to-earth pacifists. What most Hungarians know about Switzerland is that it is famous for the alpine horn, the cuckoo-clock, and for the past few decades for its pharmaceutical industry, cheese and chocolate. (Although the cuckoo-clock industry’s base by now has relocated in Germany, the

Swiss switched to Swatch.) They are, if this can be stated, the most envied nation in Europe. They are famous for their preciseness and pursuit of perfection in every small detail. When Hungarian tourist groups visit Switzerland, and back in Hungary they give an account to their friends and families on what they saw there, most probably they will remeber that everything was extremely clean, neat and tidy, and that they saw the garbage placed next to the fences for collection only in black plastic bags. The Swiss have governed their country so effectively and profitably that they can hardly be found in history books. They believe in pragmatism, comfort and security which they are willing to share with foreigners – of course it costs, which means that they also have good business skills. Once a friend of mine, when being asked where he would like to live, said that he would mostly want to be a Jew in Switzerland. No doubt, it is a good combination. In Switzerland everything is

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perfectly organized, the Swiss do not tolerate untrustworthiness, such as being half a minute late. Their constant efforts for safety ended up in an everlasting suspicion and mistrust. 21 http://www.doksi.hu The Norse are stubborn outsiders. Being the most Northern nation of Europe, Norwegians are considered to be extremely obstinate, morose and isolated by the Hungarians. The Norse don’t like to be in the centre of attention or to show off. The lack of theatrical skills is matched with innate politeness and soundness. Hungarians are likely to face the image of them as robust viking conquerours. (One may not be aware though, that vikings used to have three branches: the Swedes, the Norwegians and the Danes, no Finnish. However Norwegians claim to have been the original vikings). In most Europeans Scandinavians seem to have a unified image, but these nations are not only different, but also demand to be distinguished and tend to discriminate against each other. They seem to have

stereotyped one another: the Swedes believe that Norwegians are utterly backward and simple, while the Norse say that the Swedish are opportunists and see others as inferior nations. The Finnish somehow tend to remain in the background and try to restrain from ‘image-fights’. The Danes are extroverted venturesome people. The Danes have proved that in the northern societies everyone is equal. Allegedly when Paris was besieged, the French commander could hardly come to an agreement with the Danes because he could not find out the hierarchy among them and therefore could not begin the negotiations. They were all free men, so according to the French’s hierarchist and elitist perception they had no leader. They are still considered to be extremely independent human beings. By their northern neighbours the Danes were characterised as “the Italians of the North”, and southerners call them “the Jews of the North”, both are quite pejorative. As I mentioned the four Scandinavian

countries tend to have a strange relationship between one another. The Danes usually deal more with the Norwegians than the Swedes. It is because during the 400 years of Danish conquest, they got to know them much better. It is said that if a Norwegian is treated badly in Denmark, it is probably because he is thought to be a Swede. Hungarians think that the Danish people are quite happy and cheerful in general. They adore to have fun and can even laugh at themselves which means that they have an extremely good sense of humour. If they are reserved in any way, it might be put down to the lack of confidence originating from the features of their country to be quite a small one, and because Denmark has a glorious past which is believed to have faded by now. Their customs, the so-called “hygge” is a cultural phenomenon which is 22 http://www.doksi.hu impossible to export or copy in any way. Homeboys come together and share their sadness and happiness with each other creating a very

special atmosphere around them. The Danes are respected by the Hungarians in the business field, because they are really enterprising. Many managers in high positions cease to work for a company after some time and start their own businesses. Some Europeans believe that the Danes are far too enterprising, because they are believed to be rather unfair in business. One thing is for sure, the Danes are famous for not being too keen on paying taxes. The Greeks are intelligent ad-libbers. Greece is an extremely popular holiday resort for the Hungarians, most probably because they are always welcomed there. The Hungarians love Greek people in general. The Greeks are often envied for their good sense of business, they were the most successful merchants of the ancient Mediterrenean, their deals used to bring huge profit for them. This has not changed much since then. From another point of view the Greeks are regarded as often cynical polihistors with a great deal of charme and generosity and

an undeniable talent for improvising in tricky situations. This controversy can also be visible for those who visit Greece for their holidays. From about 11 –12 am. until 6-7 pm. nothing happens, because the locals are having a siesta, so we may think that they are lazy and calm people. Once we are there we might also witness their driving protocol, which is even worse than the Hungarian one. If you are the first car standing at the traffic lights, you can bet on your last euro that not more than one second after the lights have changed to green, someone itchy behind you shall start sounding the horn. The personality of an average Greek seems to be very complicated and sometimes controversial. According to Françoise Huart, “If we wanted to describe the characteristics of a ‘typical’ Greek, we would have to make a mixture which includes the opposites of every individual and collective feauture: democracy and dictatorship, ancient heritage and modern metropilitan chaos,

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insistent ritualism and rebelliousness, love and cruelty, suspicion and disinterest, honesty and revenge, egoism and sense of duty”, “hospitality and xenophobia, the gift of happiness and tragedy”. 20 20 Françoise Huart: La vie en Grece Paris, 1978, Solar 23 http://www.doksi.hu 5. The Responsibility of the Media in Forming Public Opinion Stereotypes are created by a lot of things: by which morals we were raised by our parents and the cultural and social values of our country. But beside all this, it is the news media that has an undisputable part in creating stereotypes. Literature, the press, electronic media all have an undisputable role in forming ‘modern’ stereotypes. They have an enormous power in froming public opinion, this is the reason why I chose to dedicate a whole section to the impact of the media. The representatives of the Media, as such, are journalists. They are not only creators of stereotypes, but are stereotyped themselves as well. The journalist

in our minds, when not chasing tough stories through city streets, smokes one cigarette after another and drinks coffee as if his life depends on it, writing his article while at the same time following the news on the television screen. This is , again, a generalization, because journalists who are the so-called “watchdogs of democracy” are also just humans raised in a society which is full of stereotypes. And naturally they transmit those images in they products. All journalists have a "cultural framework", just like all the other people, and as such, it inevitably predetermines their reports written on "the others". In an ideal case they write completely objective articles, but the disappointing fact is that the objective article does not seem to exist. Personal opinion of the author can always be revealed in the story we read, the political opinion is always noticeable in the angle the journalist chooses. Journalists are therefore the biggest image-makers:

willingly or not, by writing articles they present "the others" in one certain way. Not only when dealing with other countries do journalists and editors create stereotypes. Journalists and the media use popular perceptions of national stereotypes and journalistic storyboards for relating news from countries other than their own. Also in their own county, articles can create, often negative, images of people, mostly foreigners. Hence, it is very often the media that reflects our racial, ethnic, gender and sexual values. 24 http://www.doksi.hu But the media is more than a recording device. It is also a powerful, unavoidable agent for change. The media creates and sustains the majoritys accepted social stereotypes of minority groups. Depending on the groups place in the society, the media presentation will be positive or negative. The media also plays an important role in the portrayal of a stereotype, however it doesnt cover the whole phenomenon and shows only a limited

part. It is also typical of human behaviour that people choose to watch only those television channels or listen to the kind of radio programmes that presents the news in a way which is similar or acceptable to their tastes. Almost every channel has got a different audience, especially when it comes to broadcasting political programmes or news. Evidence for substantial features of national identities is often presented anecdotally. One may have have heard something through the grapewine, but the sad fact is that we are more likely to believe what we see and hear in the media, because we accept those assumptions without hardly ever questioning them. Most people tend to need the world summarized for them by those who are well-informed. According to the book Public Opinion, by Walter Lippmann21 , who was the first –as I referred to it in the previous chapter- to use the term stereotype in a broader perspective - 20th century inprovements in the technology of "the manufacturing of

consent" lead to "a revolution" in "the practice of democracy" because they allow elites to control public opinion about the world and about public interests in that world. Lippmann - who used to include much of the political elite within the set of those incapable of properly understanding by themselves the complex "unseen environment" - proposed to have professionals to collect and analyze data and present the conclusions to the decision makers. Then decision makers can make their decisions and use the "art of persuasion" to inform the public about the decisions and the circumstances surrounding them. There is no doubt that the control of public opinion has always been a powerful tool. But what happens if those, who are incapable of understanding the world by themselves, are provided unreliable information. Very often misinformation by the media results in misinterpretation by the general public. The media is one of the primary translators

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of society experiences. And people often look to the media in order to find out what to fear 21 Walter Lippmann: Public Opinion, 1922 25 http://www.doksi.hu of and what to look forward to. As a result of the media influence we make judgments, it influences our attitude and the way we interact with people on a daily basis. Images and portrayals get into people’s minds, and many start believing all of the stereotypes that they are seeing. As media “consumers” we are continuously bombarded with images that link poverty and crime to the minorities for instance, but rarely are we shown representatives of the majority in the same situation. This built-in bias creates a row of problems as we try to solve our national welfare and crime. Media stereotypes distort the truth and make it difficult for the public to figure out how to deal with these important issues. Researchers22 found that national stereotypes, popularized and perpetuated by the media, hearsay, history, and jokes, did

not accurately reflect the personalities of the people living in the country, although many people in the nation in question actually believed them to be true. In the next sections I am going to analyze several examples of racial and cultural stereotypes in the media. The increased deregulation of electronic media has resulted in an increased market orientation of radio and TV. More people watch the same programmes on TV, therefore they are bombarded with the same stereotypes. The same gameshows are popular in all countries, especially within a continent. The same soap operas get a high number of viewers everywhere. This unification seems to have strengthened rather than weakened national stereotypes. The development of a mass market for TV has trivialised a lot of productions. Unfortunately the most common stereotypes in the media are unfairly created on children, genders, and certain ethnic minorities like the Afro-American or Asian people.The group classified as White can still

considered to be lucky. They are one of the most diverse groups in the world. Whites come from a variety of socio-economic classes, ancestral ethnic groups, and religious backgrounds. Yet despite this diversity, whites are in this sense very lucky for being frequently portrayed on television as the happy and content majority who, along with their families, have achieved or are supposed to make for the "American dream." 22 Terracciano, A. Science, Oct. 7, 2005; vol 310: pp 96-100. News release, National Institute on Aging. 26 http://www.doksi.hu But what about other social or ethnic groups and minorities (even though these minorities may consist of hundreds of thousands or millions of people) mentioned above? Herewith I would like to refer to stereotypes shown in mainly films and movies. The Portrayal of Children and Genders A research23 by an English youth group which supports more positive reporting on children, showed that articles frequently present kids in a negative

way. Based on more than 400 newspaper cuttings, they found that nearly one third of them portrayed children as victims. The other image categories were: cute little kids who sell newspapers (27%), tiny devils (11%), kid geniouses (10%), kids as accessories (8%), modern kids (7.5%) and brave little angels (5%). According to the study half of the stereotyping was judged negative. In the media (films, publicity, TV commercials, advertisements) we are likely to come across parental stereotypes, too. For instance a negative stereotype about fathers (which says they are not close to their children and treat them harshly and strictly) and a common stereotype about mothers (that they are generous to and have more understanding of their children) is very often shown in movies and dramas. Gender stereotypes are also shown in cartoons for children. For example a doctor is usually shown as a male and a nurse as a female. Some 30-40 years ago male cartoon characters outnumbered female cartoon

characters by a rate of almost four to one and actually, they still do. Male characters are still portrayed as dominating, powerful and aggressive. Female characters tend not to have any character at all. A recent research24 has found little change in the gender stereotypes portrayed in cartoons. Young “minds” spend two to four hours a day watching television programmes. Researchers videotaped and categorized 118 cartoon characters from a single episode of each of the following Saturday morning cartoons: The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, Aladdin, Ninja Turtles, The Mask, Spiderman. They found that characters were rated on sex, prominence, gender stereotyping, aggressive behaviors and occupational roles. 23 source: Jack O’Sullivan: Media stereotypes of young people (22nd April, 1998) 24 Cynthia Spicher, B.A. and Mary Hudak, Ph.D., from Allegheny College 27 http://www.doksi.hu And even though this question is not supposed to be asked here, one may take the fact into

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consideration that provided our children are exposed to such agressive behaviour and serious gender stereotyping in cartoons, which are specially said to be produced for the young and should carry and introduce basic social values, is it worth to let our sons and daughters watch them? Lesbian, gay and bisexual presentation on TV and film is minimal, and often stereotypical. Lesbians, gays and bisexuals are stereotypically seen as the deserving victims and spreading agents of AIDS. Representing homosexual relationship in the media is also usually stereotypical. The visibility of lesbian, gay and bisexual people from all racial and class backgrounds needs to be addressed on TV. “Positive" presentations encompass having to prove the abilities of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. This mainstream exposure is given a white, middle class gay male tilt. What needs to be more visible is the presentation of more gay people of color, directing a more ethnically and class diverse

"reality”. The Portrayal of Afro-Americans African-American characters on television often used to degrade themselves and their race to play their parts. To get a sense of how some of negative stereotypes got started in films and television, it is important to go back fifty years, to the birth of the industry. At that time Blacks were portrayed as nothing more then housekeepers, gardeners, or farmers. Black women were always portrayed as either maids, or singers. The men were always portrayed less than intelligent, and just around to be the subject of a joke. In these early years the way for the future treatment was paved for the African-Americans in movies and television. The majority of black roles used to be stereotyped killers, prostitutes, singers, pimps, drug-dealers, baby sitters and clowns. African-Americans starred in disproportionately more television comedies than dramas. And when they appeared in dramas they were usually pimps, drug dealers, ghetto dwellers or other

down-and-outers. These old stereotypes, such as felons, criminals or cooks, do not seem to exist anymore, they have changed with time. We can see new ones in some modern movies . Now it 28 http://www.doksi.hu seems that a black man is either a homeboy, 40-ounce drinking, rapper, with funny socalled pimp sticks and way too much jewelry on, or they are portrayed in the role of someone intelligent and hard-working who fights against black discrimination and stereotypes. As an other possibility, in some modern movies about the Blacks,, they are either with single parents, or perhaps out of work plumbers. But typically, TV and film industry reiterated racially stereotyped images of the Blacks. The media has recognized that the stereotypical roles it portrayed the Black people in caused a lot of harm for this minority. Now the media is very much keen on portraying the Blacks in roles of educated people who are very much dedicated to work. The first crime series to conquer Europe, and

especially Hungary was Miami Vice with two handsome detectives, Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, played by the American star of the 1980’s Don Johnson and a previously unknown Afro-American actor Philip Michael Thomas. In this television series the Black actor is a well-educated and intelligent detective in a suit and a tie, chasing criminals in the streets of the sunny Miami. Now this image may seem slightly funny, but this can be regarded as a big step towards changing the stereotypes about the Blacks. From that time on Afro-Americans appeared in more and more roles as cops or other office workers. There used to be a lack of people of color, not only Blacks, in decision-making roles which resulted directly in the lack of "empowering images" in film and television. Therefore when people, especially children watched movies or television shows, they were strongly influenced by racial stereotypes. Although Afro-Americans appeared more frequently on television than they once

did, they were still not shown in roles that required more intelligence. Today there are more and more responsible adult Black males portrayed on television shows. The first television series that had a big impact in Hungary was Emergency Room (‘Vészhelyzet’) in the 1990’s. These factors had a powerful effect on Black children. When Black people appear frequently on television, Black children feel that individuals of their own race are important to the society. Also, Black children can easily find role models of their own culture and ethnic group. This could have a positive effect on the self-esteem of children in Black minorities . 29 http://www.doksi.hu The Portrayal of Asians: Representation of Asians on TV and in films has focused on such narrow stereotypes as the fabled small, slanted eye. Instead of featuring Asians as a multifaced race, the media has limited Asians into one stereotyped group: small eyes, tiny bodies, wimpy guys, submissive girls. That is the

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conventional way of representing Asians in the simple manner in which the media operates, and we stereotype easily to feel comfortable with dealing with the Asian race. Asia has always been portrayed in the media as a strange, mysterious land populated by weird, superstitious people who are good at martial arts. For 30 years in American movies Asians usually were represented as personalities of evil and cunning men, very often with the diabolical desire to take over the world. The limo driver, master of karate, with his fight against crime shows the other category of Asian stereotype in the media, which became to appear in the 60’s. Since that time Asians could be seen as something more than only evil figure, yet the Kung Fu cult brought with it a new stereotype with a new cliché. In Hungary there are hardly any stereotypes about Asian people perpetuated by the media. Asians are not in the news, they do not appear in soap operas or other television programmes. They are a minority we

can only meet in the city streets. The largest Asian minority in Hungary is the Chinese, but Hungarians do not know much about them, but that they are extremely har-working people, running their own shops and businesses. The most commonly known ones are the cheap clothes shops and buffets which can be found on almost every street corner. Let’s look at some other examples of what harm the can media do to public opinion. News items, mostly when it is something bad, tend to spike in the beginning and drop down really quick after the first panic is over. The way newspaper editors select the articles creates an image in the minds of the readers. If reports about attacks on women appear in the papers continuously, people are going to believe that the amount of assaults has increased. This does not necessarily have to be like that. A good example is the reporting about the BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) epidemic (a disease that infects cows for example) in Europe in 2001. Every case

was reported thoroughly. In no time the whole country was 30 http://www.doksi.hu sure they would never be able to eat meat again. They didnt trust the farmers or the butcher’s on the corner any more. After a while the topic just didnt show up in the news anymore. Probably because there was nothing more to tell about the subject, but the peace restored itself among the population and everybody started to buy meat again as if nothing had happened. This example in itself was pretty harmless since there was no ethnical group involved. – apart from the fact that it caused a huge fall in profits for the Hungarian farmers, since their live stock could not be sold. Yet it shows how easy it is to create an image in peoples minds. And images are quickly shaped to stereotypes. In the next chapter I am going to reveal some stereotypes about Hungary and Hungarian people. I am going to evaluate what cultural differences there are within Hungary, what Hungarians think about themselves and

how Hungarians are seen in the eyes of foreigners. 31 http://www.doksi.hu II. THE IMPACT OF NATIONAL STEREOTYPES IN HUNGARY 1. Self-Stereotypes of the Hungarians When speaking about stereotypes, experts and laymen have both been thinking in terms of national and ethnic concepts (how one nation is regarded by another). But it is just as much important, what a nation thinks about itself. Self-stereotypes are generalized features of a group which is a product of the collective culture and plays an important role in cohesion and solidarity within a group of people. The way people regard themselves or other groups can be put down to different political, social, economic and emotional motivations, and some of these preconceptions can change quickly according to social and economic events. Hungary has been down a unique road of history: Hungarians used to be the major and predominant nation in the Carpathian for a millenium. At the beginning of the 19th century the nation was not

predominant anymore, not even did Hungary have its sovereignity except for in domestic political decisions.The threat of assimilation actually brought the people together and strengthened cultural cohesion, however it seriously wounded the nation’s self-awareness. Stereotypes that emerged from this suppression are still vividly effecting Hungarians’ attitudes. At the end of the 19th century Hungary’s international image and appreciation improved: the Revolution of 1948, the struggles for independence, the capital of Budapest becoming a metropolis, and the celebration of the Millenium all contributed to the recovery of Hungary’s self-awareness, patriotism, and as such, to the development of new self-stereotypes. In the 20th century after the Treaty of Trianon, then World War II Hungary’s international image decreased again. This was reflected in its self-stereotypes which did not show a truly positive picture. The first Hungarian study in this issue, called

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‘Self-Awareness’ (‘Jellemisme’), was made by Benedictian monk and tutor Jácint Rónay in the middle of the 19th century. He 32 http://www.doksi.hu was the first one to examine the overall opinion of the general public in connection with other nations and cultures. This is a comprehensive study which summed up all the accumulated knowledge up to the mid 19th century, categorizing the general image of certain nations, like the British, the French, the Hungarian, the Italian, the German , the Spanish and the Russian. According to the author’s observations, Hungarians are emotional in nature, suggestible, to a great extent patriotic, happy, friendly and hospital, making vivid gestures. On the other hand Hungarians can get excited about something too easily, and despise craftsmanship. So what do people think about themselves in Hungary? What kind of image have Hungarians got of themselves? A survey25 which asked Hungarians to name their nation’s positive and negative

characteristics, resulted in the surprising findings that they thought that they had more positive than negative features. Hungarians in general think that they are happy and fun-loving people (meaning that they just love eating, drinking and having fun), also kind-hearted (friendly and famous for their hospitality), like to work with great diligence. As for the negative characteristics, Hungarians mentioned the lack of cohesion, jealousy and egoism. Therefore they tend to describe themselves as unthoughtfully devoted and emotional people. They are not fond of their sensual capabilities either, although Hungary ‘produced’ a large number of scientists and artists for the world. But they are very proud of being good homeboys and patriots, which is ranked at a top level of characteristics. Nationalism is an ideology to a great deal about borders and is deeply connected with the modern state system. It homogenizes the people within the state around values for how the society should be

run. This is in itself a huge area and there is plenty to say about in what ways common history, cultural symbols and other values have impacts on a country’s educational-, military- and judicial system. National identity is an imaginary feeling of bounds between people where they experience that they share the same culture and values. But, at the same time they can feel distanced to their own neighbour because of their different political opinion, their different education or their different professional situation. 25 Hunyady György, 1973 33 http://www.doksi.hu 2. Cultural Differences in Hungary One country is not a society consisting of only one single culture. Hungary also has a multicultural society - meaning a society with many different cultures, religions, languages and ethnicities - and is therefore a country with many cultural differences. Those differences exist both within and between what is usually called "the Hungarians", "the Romas and

Gipsies", "the Jews" etc. Above all, it is the construction of political and social system, and the frameworks of publicity that define the formation of opinions, whether they are hidden or easily manifested. According to a utopic definition a multicultural society can also be seen as ideal for a society which accepts all different cultures and that lets the people of its multiple cultures live with equal rights and the same permissions. One example for this difficulty seems to be the huge media resistance towards certain social groups. One possible result of this resistance could be that badly-behaving and socially excluded Roma and Gipsy communities might be equally identified with members of the criminal gangs, or that all short haired men are possible nazis. The main dilemma is whether a society should acknowledge its citizens as individuals or by their collective identities. Let’s just recall that the backward situation of black people in the USA preceding the

1950-1960’s. They were given the same rights as the white only some 40 years ago. Knowing this, we may assume that there is still a long hard way to get on top of the problems of stereotyping people by the look or by their religion. In cross-cultural relations , the way a country or nation treats its national or ethnic minorities very much contributes to the internationally created overall picture of the state. In Hungary there are two minorities that proved to mean the most problem in discriminative issues. These are the Gipsies and the Jews. They are the groups that have faced the most stereotypes, and what is more, prejudice in Hungary. Prejudice is much more than a simple stereotype, it is a set of negative and strongly discriminative stereotypes. These have endured for thousands of years against these two minorities within this nation, opposed to any favourable experience. The next sections reveal the situation of these minorities. 34 http://www.doksi.hu The Situation of the

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Jews in Hungary From among all the other minorities it is the Jews who find themselves in the centre of racial attention from time to time. A certain part of Hungary’s population – especially in the cities and in higher education – has a Jewish cultural or family background, however most of them are not extremely religious or do not practice their religion at all. Officially the Jews are a religious minority, but they have to come across racial preconceptions and prejudices regularly. They do not wear a distinctive physical feature – unlike the Black or the Asian people, however many of them are considered to have characteristic facial features, so as many other nations who are still not thought to belong to any stereotyped race. People tend to think about them as people with big noses, big beard with ringlets, wearing mostly dark clothes and hats. Of course, that is what orthodox Jews mostly look like. But this feature is by far not enough to be stereotyped as mean grabbers

who privilege their own kind, eat and drink only their own foods and drinks, go to their own special schools and universities. In one word, they are stereotyped to be the community which tends to exclude all the other ones and privilege its own kind. According to a purely anti-semite view, the principle of the Jews solidarity to their own kind is based on their belief that they are “the chosen people of God” which is a source of their pride and superior existence26. One of the most common stereotypes about the Jews is that they are purely urban people, they are never involved in agriculture, they do not cultivate land.They are stereotyped to work in only a narrow range of professions: in trade, in the administration and offices, transportation and forwarding, and in business, of course. Their experience and expertise in trade and business is obviously enormous, business and making deals is definitely in their blood. So aren’t we envious or rather jealous of these characteristics?

- Of course we are. Envy is one of the most common characteristics of humankind which hinders international and cross-cultural understanding. If a nation or group is more successful in a certain field, the other begins to make jokes about them, start blaming them for their own failures. These can accelerate and become stereotypes, prejudices or even 26 Gordon W. Allport: Az előítélet 35 http://www.doksi.hu genocide. This is exactly what happened in case of the Jews before and during the Holocaust. Who are the Jews? Their history goes back thousands of years. Originally they were a closed community of shepherds, with a uniform culture. If they have any distinctive facial characteristics, it is because the territory, where these people are from, the native inhabitants were Armenians, well before Christ. However, many other people belong to this race, who are not Jews. For instance, the early Christians were Jews, too, so they did not have different physical characteristics. Jews

have also had a common language, hebrew which was used by orthodox Jews until the last century and it is still the language of religios services. However there are only a few people who speak this language, it is seems to be destined to extinct. The greatest tragedy of Jewish history was that they lost their country to call a home. A state is obviously one of the key elements of having a national identity. Thus the Jews are sometimes uncertain whether to identify themselves as an ethnic, religious or cultural minority. During their history the Jews were often forced to live in segregation, in times of the Renaissance for the first time, this is where the word ‘ghetto’ is from. These ghettos were usually surrounded by walls, but within those walls the Jews could live a safe and, what is more important, a more or less free life. It had the advantage that it lifted conflicts and ceased atrocities against the Jews, and after they got used to being surrounded and accepted it, they could

more or less determine their lives themselves27. Today there is basically no country in the world which does not have a Jewish minority, but most of them live in Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union, in the United States and now in Israel, which is their new state that they could establish with help received from the United Nations after World War II. Hungarians attitude to the Jews was rather aiming at their assimilation. After the Trianon Treaty this attitude is said to have changed negatively. Hungary began delimitations of the ‘alien’ elements, a xenophobia never seen before in Hungary. In 1920 the so-called‘numerus clausus’ act stipulated that the number of candidates from 27 Gordon W. Allport: Az előítélet 36 http://www.doksi.hu national, ethnic minorities to universities and academies must be limited, although many young Jewish people were willing to apply to higher education. Following these restrictions there were more to come. Jews were highly

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discriminated against, deprived of the ability to perform on stage in theatres or to appear in front of the public at all. In 1938 there were attempts from the Vatican to prevent something terrible to come. Pope Pius XI tried to raise attention of the Church and the believers on the issue of the widespread Jewish discrimination and anti-semitism, claiming that these were highly unfair and unacceptable. Unfortunately he failed to achieve any amelioration in the situation, and the Jews had to suffer far the most in the history of humankind during the years of the upcoming World War II. Before the war approximately six hundred thousand Jewish people lived in Hungary. After the war there were about 50-70 thousand. The shameful memory of the war could not be wiped away by the politics and the media in the following decades. The strict Rákosi era did not only have to face the burden of the situation and past of the Jews, but many of its political leaders were Jewish themselves, except for

Imre Nagy. Today the Hungarian Jewish minority consists of about one hundred thousand souls, most of them are elderly people. After all the suffering and genocide they had to take in the war, this minority seems to recede. They have their human rights and have a free will to practise their religion. However, discrimination against them is still not over in Hungary. Even if they are not confronted from face to face, it is certain that the seeds of anti-semitism are well buried in the hearts of some people in Hungary. According to a recent survey28 conducted by András Kovács, among a significantly large number of Hungarians only 29% of the people replied that they did not have antisemite views or did not discriminate against the Jews, and an amazing 25 percent said they did. According to the results 32% of the Hungarian adults accept some of the longlasting economic stereotypes about the Jews without having any anti-semite views. On the whole, a breath-taking rate of 25% - 33% of

Hungary’s adult population can be considered anti-semite. 28 Kovács András: A látens antiszemitizmus mérése 37 http://www.doksi.hu Number of replies Percentage (%) Non anti-semite 420 29 Has got stereotypes 478 32 Anti-semite 246 17 Radical anti-semite 116 8 Incategorizable 213 14 Total 1473 100 Research made among Hungarian adults in 1995 by András Kovács. This is an enormous number compared to the results of surveys made in some previous years: the rate of adults claiming to dislike the Jews in 1993 – ’94 ranged between 14% - 15% . This was only 6% - 7% in 2002. These surveys also proved that the Hungarians are under latent pressure by public opinion and do not feel free to express discriminative attitudes towards the Jews. thinks it is TRUE thinks it is NOT TRUE does not know / no answer 1. ...I do not tell anyone what I think about the Jews 29 % 62 % 9% 2. ...I believe that many people are afraid to tell what they really think about

the Jews. 54 % 35 % 11 % 3. ...If someone says something bad about the Jews, he or she shall be thought an antisemite. 44 % 41 % 15 % These results were shown by the survey conducted by András Kovács in 2002. The Jews in Hungary are thought to be hard-working and very ambitious people who are really family-centered and show great solidarity to their own group. At the same time the are considered to have ostentatious consuming habits and a love for accumulating wealth. They are thought to be biased by money, meaning their business 38 http://www.doksi.hu protocol is purely unfair. They are judged for being too sensitive about every discriminatory behaviour29. It is unfairly controversial that in spite of all the discriminatory attitudes or negative preconceptions against the Jews, we Hungarians are likely to be proud of those Nobel prize winners who are also members of this minority, like many scientists, and of course Imre Kertész, who was awarded for his novel,

Faithlessness (‘Sorstalanság’ ). The Roma or Gipsy Communities in Hungary The situation of the Roma or Gipsy communities is a highly disputed issue in Hungary. There are 13 officially registered and legally recognized nations in Hungary. Twelve of them are national minorities and there is one ethnic minority: the Gipsies. Hugary is ranked at the fourth place in providing a home for the most Gipsy and Roma people. There are 2,2 – 2,5 million living in the neighbouring Romania, approximately 850 thousand in Bulgaria, almost the same number applies to Spain with 600 – 800 thousand Gipsy inhabitants. Hungary has got an official Gipsy and Roma ethnic minority of 190 046 people30, but unofficially their number ranges somewhere between 500 thousand and one million according to sociologists. They are the fastest growing population in Hungary. The term ’Roma” refers to groups of people who do not share the same language and culture and also differ from those of the native

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inhabitants in the ’host country’. Sometimes they tend to isolate themselves deliberately in order to protect their own cultural identity. However they are only thought to be one single ethnic group by other natives, because with time they were likely to get adapted to the natives’ culture, and began thinking about themselves as one single ethnic group. This means that the differences seemed to have been somewhat washed away. Their ethnic groups are the so-called ‘Olah Gipsies’, the ‘Carpathian Gipsies’(‘Romungró’s and ‘Szintó’s), the ‘Beások’, and of course the Romanian Gipsies. 29 30 Gordon W. Allport from www.romaweb.hu 39 http://www.doksi.hu The old Hungarian term ‘cigány’, that is Gipsy carries a negative tone within in many countries, therefore is more and more ill-advised to use in public. The first Hungarian king to give the wandering Gipsies the right to settle down in the XIV. century was Sigismund of Luxemburg. Those caravans came from

the East in hope of a better life, but the past five centuries still have not brought it for them. According to the data of the census in 1893, the number of Roma people, who had settled down in Hungary, was 275 thousand. With the mass production of industrial goods in the following century their traditional professions were not needed anymore, not even in the small villages. Between the two wars they were even prohibited to move from one city to the other. By losing their traditional customers, the majority of the Gipsies had no work or any jobs which lead to social conflicts. All this was aggravated by the fascist domination in 1944 when the Gipsies were exposed to the nazi genocide. Approximately 30 – 70 thousand Roma people were deported from Transdanubia and were killed in concentration camps. After World War II unlike Hungarians, the Romas were not given any land. During the soicialist era polititians considered that the situation of the Roma and Gipsy communities were not an

ethnic problem but rather a social one. This large body of unskilled labour was offered jobs in distant industrial centres, many began to commute between their homes and work. The so-called ‘Feketevonat’ term (Black train) referred to the scheduled train taking the day-labourers to the capital, Budapest. Others had to stay in workers’ hostels during the week. Most Roma men were browbeaten into work that required no skilled labourforce. At the end of 1960’s the state administration began to eliminate the run-down Gipsy ghettos. They were granted public loans on preferential terms in order to buy their own flats, and they were entitled to move into old, abandoned houses in villages. Unsurprisingly in some places this attempt to settle these communities faced social resistence. This way in certain places the value of real estate fell within a short time which shortly entailed the migration of the locals to other cities. Today there are villages in Hungary (especially in

Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County) where the rate of Romas and Gipsies in the local population exceeds 90-95 %. This procedure of segregation of these communities made their serious effects on Hungary’s social discrepancies. 40 http://www.doksi.hu The Romas have the same rights and at the same time are almost completely excluded by the Hungarian society. Their children are raised within a closed, almost impenetrable community where they fully lack the chance to learn how to socialize with the rest of the society. Their living standards lag behind the average. Sociologists say that these basic problems could only be eliminated partly by the Romas raising their own intellectual white-collar class, and partly by consistent efforts and social reforms of the government. The Western societies could never really accept the Romas, they are still regarded as rather strangers. Their presence seems to bear xenophobia in native people because they are thought to be a burden on the society. This

latent discriminative attitude more and more often appears in public, which entails more and more serious reactions and reflections from the Roma and Gipsy people. Hungarians seem to lack tolerance for them. Their feeling of abjection results in an impulsive agression which may entail physical assault and is often regarded as self judgements. This years’ recent case in the small village of Olaszliszka, where a Hungarian teacher was beaten to death shocked the people in Hungary. This, and similarly agressive and brutal actions very much contributed to the general discrimination, abjection and exclusion of the Roma minorities. They are now regarded as shirkers who do not like to work and beg for aids and support from the state. They are not likely to be employed willingly by Hungarian companies, their unemployment means that they are left without a source of income and with much freetime. Therefore these groups are drawn deeper and deeper into the black market and crime. They are

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stereotyped as not only people who try to avoid work, but also as criminals. It is completely false to identify the group of criminals with the Romas, this is why these stereotypes are extremely discriminative. Obviously not all of them are thieves and robbers. Let’s just think of the famous 100 membered Gipsy Orchestra (‘Száztagú Cigányzenekar’) and other popular musicians who are also from this minority. Hungarians in general like their music, furthermore it is often regarded as a so-called Hungarian speciality (’hungarikum’). 41 http://www.doksi.hu Fortunately after much effort by the government and different civil organizations, their situation seems to have begun improving. A survey31 showed that shortly after the change of regime, the number of Hungarian adults who claimed to be averse from the Gipsies rated between 40 % - 42 % in 1993-1995. By 2001-2003 this rate has fallen to 36 % -38 %. The researchers found out that explicit prejudice has significantly

decreased against the Romas. 3. How Hungarians are seen with the Eyes of Foreigners “Hungarians are as dedicated as the Americans, as romantic as the Slavic people, as curious as Japanese, and as tricky as Arabians.” /Georg Kőváry/ The first thing a foreigner may notice is that Hungarians are present in almost every country in the world. Especially in Europe32 the elderly Hungarians are thought to be awkward kind of people, because they are still considered to wear folk clothes and even men are thought to wear cavalry moustache. Many believe that family and roots are extremely important for the Hungarians, who keep together. From the results of the personally organized survey I found that the respondents seemed to know quite a lot about Hungary, its famous attractions (its capital, Budapest), sites (such as Lake Balaton) and specialities (cuisine). However many of the features they mentioned appeared to be an image left behind by Hungary’s communist era. The respondents were

aware of Hungary’s best know specialities, such as the wine. One Lithuanian replied that in Hungary wine is said to “run through the kitchen pipe”. They know about the Captain of Tenkes (‘Tenkes kapitánya’) and of course Hungary’s popular gipsy folk music. Surprisingly the Chinese respondents said they knew that Hungary is a country with a long history, which they understandably respect having their own history of more than four thousand years. The Chinese also replied that Hungary was famous for its thermal baths and spas, and for its “mixed culture”, since it still has got buildings built in “Roman or Turkish style”. However they also mentioned that they had no perceptions about Hungarian people before they actually got in contact with one. 31 32 research on latent discrimination by András Kovács Richard Hill: Mi, európaiak 42 http://www.doksi.hu The British respondents were of course familiar with Hungary’s geographical features, but mainly all they

knew about Hungary was the wine, its cuisine and that it was a postcommunist country close to Russia. However the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix (‘Hungaroring’) seemed to be an important piece of Hungarian export for them, just like for the Finnish people. The Scandinavians basically shared these views of the British, they also said to have been been taught about Hungary’s history, but did not have preconceptions about Hungarians before they visited Hungary or met some of its people. However they thought that since Hungary formed a part of the former “Eastern Block”, they tended to regard Hungarians as suppressed people, maybe to some extent cold and not so sociable ‘like the Russians’. This impression was also created by the media. The Brits answered that even though they usually did not hear much about Hungary in the United Kingdom, but when they did, Hungarians seemed to be portrayed as individuals who lived in poverty, surrounded by social difficulties. The Finnish

however added that they thought Hungarians and Finnish people must be somewhat similar because they were said to be relative nations, which is probably a knowledge learnt at school. The Greeks did not seem to know much about Hungary before they visited the country, even though they are quite close to each other. The said they hadn’t had any preconceptions or perceptions about Hungarians, although they could guess that they may not be too much different from them. They seemed to be more familiar with Hungarian specialities, such as the wines and the ‘salami’ Another well-known feature of Hungarians seems to be that they are really inventive and dedicated. If they clash into a wall, somehow, they always manage to get over it from any possible direction. Based on the observations of Georg Kőváry, we are very much like the Italians or the French. This is actually a feature that Hungarians themselves seem to admit. We are proud of being smart and also of having a practical view of

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life. Unfortunately Hungarians are still better known abroad for their folk dances, wines and gulyás (or goulash as foreigners are familiar with it), which latter has actually become the undercover Hungarian stew. Foreigners therefore do not even know what they really eat when having a goulash. 43 http://www.doksi.hu Hungarians are strongly individualists, their culture is very relationship-oriented. They are just as much intelligent, hard-working people as those of any other nation. However some old studies presumed that education and literacy were not thought to be the most definitive characteristics of Hungarians, but at least we are said to have a good sense of humour in those surveys. On the other hand according to the survey I made among the foreign partners of a Hungarian company, when being asked to name one positive characteristic of the Hungarians, almost all of the respondents named intelligence as a positive feature. On the other hand Hungarians are extremely

sensitive, subjective, empathic and proud people, are also emotional and sometimes hysterical. According to a survey33 made in 9 countries some 20 years ago during the communist era, Hungrary and its people were ranked at a very pathetic position by its neighbours. Interesting though, that Hungarians are not labelled for their language, nevertheless this was a feature to define our isolation following the Middle Ages. How are we regarded by our closest neighbours? A survey34 compared what Hungarians and Romanians think about themselves and about one another. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. ---------Hungarians 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 33 34 Intelligent Well-educated Interested in politics Assertive Partriotic Romanians 6. Fair and sound 7. Hard-working 8. Friendly 9. Good sense of humour 10. Popular Peabody, D.: National Characteristics, Cambridge (1985) Hunyady György, 1997 44 http://www.doksi.hu The diagram above shows that surprisingly the Hungarians consider themselves in general to

be less intelligent and well-educated, than what the Romanians think about themselves . Other main characteristics that are significantly rated are assertiveness and patriotism which latter is obviously a common feature of the Hungarians, but they still lag behind the Romanians’ self-perception of patriotism, but not in assertiveness. Hungarians generally think they are fairer and more sound than the Romanians, but they are thought to have less sense of humour than their neighbours. As for popularity and friendliness the two countries seemed to rank themselves in more or less the same position. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. ----------- Hungarians about Romanians 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Intelligent Well-educated Interested in politics Assertive Patriotic Romanians about Hungarians 6. Fair and sound 7. Hard-working 8. Friendly 9. Good sense of humour 10. Popular According to the diagram above, the Hungarians and the Romanians seem to have similar perceptions of each other, but the

distance betwen the curves shows clearly that the Hungarians think less marvelously about the Romanians, than they do about their neighbours. 45 http://www.doksi.hu There is one important thing to point out when having a thorough look at the diagrams. If we compare them, we can see that Hungarians do not consider themselves as patriotic as they are thought to be by the Romanians. Hungarians are actually proud of their patriotism and dedication to their homeland, but this is very often regarded as nationalism by the neighbouring countries. According to my survey, all of the Serbians replied that Hungary’s nationalism seems to have gone to extremes. One particular respondent even said that 90% - 95% of the Hungarians live in some kind of a “pre-Trianon dream”. They said that nationalism in Hungary seemed to have a rising tendency, its people are too obsessed with their national past and seem to care too much about how they are perceived by ‘the others’. They think that for

Hungarians everything revolves around their country, which is obviously disadvatageous for the business and trade relationships of Hungary. At the same time the general image about Hungary seems to have changed for the past 15 years according to the Serbians. They said that some years ago the Serbian stereotype about Hungarians was that they were double-faced and reserved people, whom the Serbians used to dislike. Even though these stereotypes may not have been washed away completely, but Hungary has gained a little bit more respect by the Serbian people. Briefly stating, the general positive features of the Hungarians were said to be trustworthiness and hospitality. The most worrying negative characteristic, besides being a bit reserved, was the rising tendency of nationalism. Unfortunately the recent events, such as the attack against the building of the Hungarian National Television, and later the revolutionary fights with the police in the streets of Budapest have been

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reported in details worldwide by many international channels. This of course did not help to stop the rise of stereotypes about Hungarians as nationalists. 46 http://www.doksi.hu III. THE PROS AND CONS OF NATIONAL STEREOTYPES IN THE BUSINESS ENCOUNTER AND TRADE RELATIONS OF HUNGARY The content of stereotypes is nurtured by collective experience and hearsay. There are similarities between national stereotypes originating from the environment or history. A research35, which was conducted back in the 1950’s, proved the uneconomical effects of discrimination against different social groups. There are many companies which do not wish to employ a candidate with the right qualification because of the colour of skin or religion. Although this research was made in the United States, but it set a light on how unprofitable it was to maintain separate schools and hospitals for the people of colour (mainly in the southern states). It showed that the standard of living was significantly higher

in those states where racial prejudice and discrimination was less strong. In Hungary (and also in other countries) the labour market has other prejudices to offer against women. A ‘gender gap’ exists, especially when it comes to communication. Pretty strange but most of the high ranking managerial posts are filled by men and most women face difficulties in work places due to male domination The problem occurs when stereotypes are used to prejudge peoples abilities and competence, and develop unfair and incorrect expectations. Stereotypes are not necessarily good job-performance indicators, nor do they give accurate description of someones complete personality, as every individual - whether a female or male - has a different personality and level of competence. Examination of national stereotypes is quite common. The first and most prominent survey was conducted with the support of UNESCO in 1948-’49. Back then it showed that UNESCO nations found the Americans the most popular

nation with the most 35 Gordon W. Allport, 1954 47 http://www.doksi.hu desirable features, the Russians on the other hand were rated to be the less popular with way too many negative characteristics. This means that it is not so much stereotypes that influence intercultural relations, but more like the other way round, it is international relationships, cooperations or conflicts, that have an impact on stereotypes. After World War I and the Treaty of Trianon there were some stereotypes emerged in connection with Hungary’s economic situation. Hungarians felt stigmatized and considered to have been deprived of their important national values: ƒ by rolling back our borders and cutting approximately two third off the country’s territory Hungary lost its most important resources of raw materials and its most industrialized territories, ƒ Hungary ceased to own the Port of Fiume which was its only entry to the Mediterrenean (and as such trade route of crucial importance for

foreign trade), ƒ the markets for Hungary’s agricultural products suddenly contracted ƒ Hungary’s economic and financial independence was limited by the peace-treaty ƒ German and Italian domination found a fertile soil in the mutilated country. All these events lead to a very dark image forming in the minds of Hungarian people about themselves. It wasn’t only harmful for our self-confidence, but also because that was also the picture we showed about ourselves to the people of other nations. Examination of stereotypes in Hungary began in 1970’s. Researches conducted by György Hunyady in 1974 and 1981 ranked Hungarians somewhere in the middle among other nations. In the 1970’s Hungary formed an economic and political union with the former USSR, which looked very favourable in the eyes of certain social groups. Hungary received top ratings by the western neighbours among all the other member states of the Soviet Union. Between 1981 and 1991 this general picture began

fading. According to a new survey in 1994 Hungary’s image depreciated steadily following the political changes. How are Hungarians seen by foreigners today? This is a really significant question. While sitting in our office preparing for a business meeting with people from abroad we usually take into consideration the most important elements of business protocol and etiquette relevant to the culture of the country which our visitor is from. We obviously 48 http://www.doksi.hu want to make a good impression on our business partner, but in everyday life we tend to forget that foreigners may have some preconceptions about us. It works vica versa, we also have preconceptions or stereotypes about potential foreign partners we are supposed to do business with. At the company, where I spent my training period, I could experience the presence of stereotypes in many cases against their foreign partners and stereotypes against the Hungarians, too, even if the managers may not have admitted

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that. And I am not necessarily speaking about negative preconceptions, even though I have seen more examples for this than for positive ones. They only had one thing in common, that later on they proved to be highly mistaken. As far as I understood in Hungary we tend to think marvelously about Western partners.The stereotypes I faced at this company about the British partners were extremely positive. It was based on a personal visit of the Hungarian management to the United Kingdom where they took part in a professional business symposium along with managers from many other companies of different nations. The event was hosted by the British firm. If I aimed to explain this from a psychological standpoint, I could say that these western companies from Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands formed kind of an aspirational group in the eyes of the Hungarian participants. The British firm organized this event in order to have access to the Eastern-European market for

their products. I must add that all of these companies are involved in the security business, they are manufacturers and distributors of special manual security products, such as security seals, tapes and labels. Eastern Europe is obviously an uncovered market for the western countries (with many post-communist countries where everybody wants to get rich as quickly as possible, meaning, cheating as much as possible. In the technical language of this security line they would say ‘tamper evident technologies’). This is why it obviously was in the hosts’ intention that the Hungarian delegates did not feel to have been stereotyped in any way. The two companies began a cooperation, they signed an agency agreement and the products were introduced on the Hungarian market, with much success in the beginning.Unfortunately a couple of months later this wonderful picture that the Hungarian managers seemed to have created about their sound and trustworthy British partners turned out to be

rather misleading. It was very interesting and instructive to see 49 http://www.doksi.hu how the two companies settled the question of the first complaints received for the products. First the British firm did not take the complaint seriously and rejected it claiming that it was unjustified, and chose to blame the bad storing conditions and the uncarefully chosen application process of the products for their malfunction. The Hungarian distributors not having much experience with this very product put all their trust in their foreign principal and represented this attitude toward the customer, who on the other hand insisted that the goods were faulty. It took some time to convince the British company to send a representative of theirs to Hungary to give this case a closer attention and investigate it. After this visit they still seemed to hesitate to admit being at fault, especially after they were made to understand that the customer was expecting compensation for the bad products,

or the exchange of the faulty goods. In the very end the complaints proved to be justified after many tests had been made on the products. What I would like to point out is not that the British business people are not trustworthy, irresponsible or the goods they manufacture have got a bad quality. This is obviously out of question. But the attitude of both companies can be to some extent put down to having preconceptions or maybe stereotypes against each other. The Hungarian distributor company refused to question the expertise of its principal and made an enormous mistake by not taking the chance into consideration that the complaint could be justified. As I mentioned, for the Hungarian management the British businessmen were some kind of an aspirational group and carried on with this attitude seen from them even in a situation they had not found themselves in before. After they were shown all the nicely furnished offices and the fancy plant, their impressions enlarged their

stereotypes of the British as highly professional experts and wellmannered business people. The Hungarians seemed to care a lot more about building an imaginary bridge between the cultural differences (etiquette, small talks, dining, appearance) than the actual problems. Briefly, this exaggerated trust in their principal was due to the positive preconceptions the Hungarians harboured about their English partners. Sadly, it resulted in a considerable loss of profits, enormous amount of administration, multiplied by the decrease in the Hungarian company’s reputation and good-will. 50 http://www.doksi.hu The British, on the other hand, had some negative stereotypes about the Hungarians. As a former communist country, Hungary is considered to have become a place where tricky businesses and speculation are blossoming. With reference to the results of the questionnaires, some British seem to believe that Hungarians are rather like the Russians in terms of business protocol, whose

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country is stereotyped against as the melting pot of post-war Soviet corruption. Even though the British person who was asked in the survey did not exactly write this, I believe it can mostly be put down to his overflowing politeness. Although they think that Hungarians are famous for their hospitality, - actually, the representative of the British company in question said that he had never been treated as well and friendly as in Hungary – this market is still entirely unknown for the British. This does explain their cautiousness after having been informed that the Hungarian customer expected some kind of compensation for the faulty goods. Unsurprisingly they opted for the exchange of the faulty goods, because in the back of their minds they may have suspected that the Hungarian company expected to share the compensation received with the customer who claimed for it. After this very case the Hungarian company did not lose contact with the British partner, but decided to look for a

new supplier, who in the end turned out to be another company from the United Kingdom. In the previous case it was the Hungarians’ unfounded positive stereotypes that placed obstacles in the way of ‘blossoming business cooperation’. In an other case which took place more or less at the same time, I could see examples of negative stereotypes in the business encounter. The Hungarian company seemed to slightly discriminate a new Serbian agent of his. Despite many preliminary personal business meetings and crosschecks precedeing a set of negotiations by the agent in Serbia with a prominent public financial institution, the Hungarian company turned down the request of his agent to offer more favourable payment terms for the customer. The Hungarian company, the principal in this case, was fully aware that this was the only way to achieve success in that very business, since a public financial institution cannot be expected to accept to pay in advance even in case of the trial order.

Because of having preconceptions about the Serbians being untrustworthy the Hungarians missed an approximately ten thousand euro deal. Some time later after both the Serbian agent and the Hungarian principal got to know each other better and the principal began to trust his agent, fortunately they could make up for this loss and had the chance to submit a bid for this very customer in 51 http://www.doksi.hu Serbia in which the Hungarians agreed to offer even less tight payment terms. In this case the company’s management understood that their preconceptions about the Serbs’ business protocol were not always founded. However they are still extremely cautious and prudent when it comes to doing business on the Serbian market, but this is mainly because the agent was willing to take no guarantee for cases of non-payment, and the parties could not agree on a delcredere basis. From the Serbians point of view, all of the company’s Serbian partners who were asked in the survey claimed

that they liked doing business with Hungarians, because they find them extremely trustworthy and reliable. They say that their average experience with Hungarian businesspeople is that they keep themselves to the gentlemen’s agreement, but most of the times they seem to worry too much. On the other hand some Serbian partners said that Hungarians were not really good negotiators, because they lack true initiative and boldness. They think that Hungarians are too pushy, and want to achieve success in a very short time, for which they are not willing to do much. The reason for the Serbians’ answers can be that they are probably into having more personal contact even in business than the Hungarians would afford. For the Hungarians a business deal may begin with meeting the partner at the airport or with a small talk and it is likely to finish with a dinner spent in a restaurant with their foreign visitors, but it is less probable to end with a night spent in a bar drinking and talking

about anything colloquial but business. As if Hungarians couldn’t afford to spend their time on something which is not pure business and is not within working hours. The Serbians also mentioned that Hungarians are usually cooperative and willing to help, but they have a lack of intimacy to achieve higher levels of cooperativeness and teamwork.This is probably the reason why the Serbians basically think that Hungarians are not bad business people, they are trustworthy and hospital, but briefly stating, they think that Hungarians could do much better. Some respondents even mentioned that Hungarians tend to pretend that they accept cultural differences, but Hungarians never truly accepted these differences, they are more likely to sweep them under the carpet when it comes to perceiving real differences. In general Hungarians are therefore thought to be stubborn, and they are absolutely sure that their way is the right way. 52 http://www.doksi.hu Compared to the Serbians answers, the

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British mentioned other interesting features in the business protocol of Hungarians. They said that according to their experience, Hungarians seemed to have a bit more “protekció”, i.e. corruption (it was staggering that one of the respondents used this term in Hungarian),than they would have imagined, even though they do not consider it to be too serious. However they can only imagine Hungarian market penetration via working with local agents, because the market seems to be really risky and tricky for them. It means that for the Brits there is too much corruption and red-tape to face in Hungary and they do not appreciate the way it works, however they only seem to have this image about the state-controlled public administration. When it comes to evaluating their Hungarian partners, they said that they had excellent experience with Hungarian companies: discussions were honest, trading terms were fair and payments were received from them promptly. According to the Danish ,

Norwegian and Finnish respondents Hungarians are good business partners, however they interestingly added that they tend not to respect the deadlines. As for these Scandinavians, a delay of one or two days is not something to complain about, but Hungarians tend to be late by one or two weeks, which is inacceptable with them. On the other hand they said that Hungarians want everything on the spot, or within as a short period of time in which nothing is possible to be comleted. I have to add that according to my personal experience at the Hungarian company, the management had a positive attitude to the Danes and Norwegians, but when they needed urgent and exact information from them, for instance about the date of delivery of the goods on order, they were hardly ever given any useful information. It is true that these Scandinavians tend to get upset if something is in a delay, but they are not so keen on giving exact dates. All the Hungarians could get informed about was usually the week

or the part of the month when the consignment was expected to arrive. This of course was a constant source of disagreement between these companies, because in such cases the Hungarians started to press their foreign partners to specify the date, while the Danes began beating about the bush and were more into starting a personal chat with the Hungarian assistant on the phone, then providing any exact information. 53 http://www.doksi.hu To put this in a nutshell, their image is more or less the same as that of the Serbians. They both believe that Hungarians are too pushy business people, but they are trustworthy and really hospital when it comes to personal visits. Interesting though, that the Greeks think that Hungarian business protocol is not much different from theirs, but they replied that the hospitality in Hungary has decreased for the past couple of years. Hungarians received the best ratings from the Chinese. These good results might be put down to the fact that these two

nations hardly ever have the opportunity to get in personal contacts because their countries are geographically very far from each other. Hungarians do not know much about the Chinese, and they hardly know anything about the Hungarian people either. However, Chinese respondents said that they love doing business with the Hungarians and that if they met, they would probably become friends, too. It is interesting though, that despite all the language barriers, Hungarians usually have a surprisingly good partnership with the Chinese. The Hungarian company I worked for had many business partners in China. All of them were extremely helpful not only in business but when I asked them to help me with the research work, they were the first ones to reply and return the questionnaires filled, even though those were the hardest to understand. 54 http://www.doksi.hu CONCLUSION Having stereotypes is not a good thing. Creating stereotypes is even worse. Still it is something that is inevitable.

As I mentioned, all persons have stereotypes because everybody grows up with them. It is impossible not to have them unless someone has been raised on an uninhabited island. In my thesis I tried to point out the significance of stereotypes from their birth to their impacts in general, and especially in Hungary’s society and trade relations. I examined those factors that could contribute to the stereotypes about Hungarians. By making a single-handedly organized survey among foreign business partners of a Hungarian company and with other foreigners, I aimed to describe how Hungarians are seen generally by people abroad. With the help of the results I tried to reveal the existing stereotypes about Hungarians. I also examined what foreigners think about Hungarian people’s business protocol and what common stereotypes Hungarians harbour about some foreign countries and their people. It has become clear that the image that Hungarians have about themselves is not equal with the one that

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people from different foreign countries have about Hungarians. Having stereotypes is very often harmful for businesses in Hungary, and of course Hungary’s business partners, too. Entering a deal because of favourable unfounded stereotypes of the partner or missing a deal for untrustworthy reasons can both be disadvantegous and may result in a loss of profit, but what is more, it can be the most harmful for a company’s good-will and reputation if they are thought to have discriminatory attitude towards particular nations, races, etc. The only thing we can do is try to overcome our stereotypes. We shouldn’t believe what people tell us, we have to go and find out ourselves. If everybody does that maybe in the future our children will grow up without stereotypes. And when they do, the news media will also change. Maybe one day we will have objective news then. Evaluating and understanding our own viewing and reading habits will help to create a more accurate understanding of issues.

We have to develop the ability to look critically at our own cultural background and stereotypes. Not in order to discard them, but in order to build on them and to transcend the confines of them. 55 http://www.doksi.hu APPENDIX QUESTIONNAIRE PAGE 1 / 2 Dear Sir or Madam, This short Questionnaire aims to find out what foreign people think about Hungarians. It will serve with interesting pieces of information to my thesis on how Hungary and Hungarian people in general are regarded internationally. I would like to point out that this survey is anonym, your name or availabilities shall not be indicated anywhere. Therefore you are kindly asked to write what you really think or know about Hungary and its people. Please, answer each question in max. 10 -15 sentences. 1. What do you think about Hungary and its people in general? 2. Did you have any impression of Hungarian people before you actually got in contact with one? 3. If your answer is yes to the previous question, can you

describe where those perceptions were from? (family, friends, business partners, media, etc.) 56 http://www.doksi.hu PAGE 2 / 2 4. What do people in your country think about Hungary and especially about its people? 5. Can you name one positive and one negative characteristic that you think describes Hungarian people the best. Please, explain your decision. 6. Have you got any bad impression in connection with Hungarian people? 7. What do you think about Hungarian business protocol? (attitude to cultural differences, negotiations, trustworthiness, hospitality, cooperativeness) 8. Have you heard or read any reports in the media about Hungary or Hungarians recently? What was it about? What picture did the report suggest about Hungarians? Thank you very much for answering these questions and helping me with my research work. 57 http://www.doksi.hu SOURCES USED 1. Allport, Gordon W.: Az előítélet Osiris Kiadó, 1999 Budapest 2. Aronson, Elliot: A társas lény (Tizenegyedik

kiadás) KJK-KERSZÖV Jogi és Üzleti Kiadó Kft. 2000, Budapest, 3. Atkinson, R.L. – Atkinson, R.C. – Smith, E.E. – Bem, D.J. – Nolen-Hoeksema, S.: Pszichológia. Második, javított kiadás, Osiris Kiadó 1999, Budapest 4. Hill, Richard: Mi, európaiak Geomédia Kiadó 1999, Budapest 5. Hunyady György: Sztereotípiák a változó közgondolkodásban Akadémiai Kiadó 1996, Budapest 6. Polyák Ildikó: Cross-Cultural Communication Külkereskedelmi Főiskola Nyomdája 1999, Budapest 7. Szabó István: Bevezetés a szociálpszichológiába Universitas - Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó 2004, Budapest 8. Zeidenitz, Stefan – Barkow, Ben : Miért nem bírjuk a németeket? (Kis Nemzethatározó) Pannonica Kiadó 2003, Budapest Articles: 9. Ágoston Balázs: Cigányúton a cigányzene Magyar Demokrata, 14. August, 2006. 10. Kovács András: A látens antiszemitizmus mérése, (Antisemitic Prejudices in Contemporary Hungary) Szociológiai Szemle 1999/4. pp. 74-84 11. O’Sullivan, Jack:

Media stereotypes of young people (22.April, 1998) Children’s Express Story Library (www.childrens-express.org) 12. Terracciano, Antonio. News release, National Institute of Aging. Science Magazine, Oct. 7, 2005; vol 310: pp 96-100. Internet database: 13. McGovern, Gerry: National Stereotypes, (22nd March, 1999) (www.gerrymcgovern.com) 14. Wikipedia internet database (www.wikipedia.org) 15. www.romaweb.hu 58

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