Cultural question related to social status

arete92

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Jul 5, 2018
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This has been a question of mine for a long time.. when I ask most Dominicans about this they're unable to explain it because it's just so normal to them they have never really thought about it outside their culture - to be fair this also extends to other Latin American countries but I find it's a lot more open here and enforced socially.

To start off this post isn't bashing anything or anyone I'm just trying to understand the logic behind it here it goes..

Hypersensitivity to social status; it seems like every Dominican I come in contact with poor or rich - though more commonly middle class and poor are always talking about social status and hyper-aware of their actions and the way they dress reflecting this i.e I was at Golds Gym in Puerto Plata and dropped perhaps like 30 Pesos on the floor by the weights - I went to get them and my brother in law looked somewhat embarrassed and responded in Spanish "Don't do that it looks poor" in all my life in Canada I have never heard this expression being used for an action, I can give a few other examples as well, for some reason walking in this country seems to be the most embarrassing thing someone can do double X if you carry groceries like that and people and motos will often say "que pobre camiando como asi" like what!? I don't understand this odd social dynamic where they're all shaming each other based on an artificially perceived social class. Most Gringos who come here have money or at least some savings and can happily go get groceries every day go on an excursion when they want, travel our of the country etc. so why do Dominicans feel they need to always display a fake social status ( not all but most )? When I first came here I thought Dominicans were humble, but when I got to know the culture and language and see how people react in different environments I realized that's very far from the truth. The word Tacano is used when a person is cheap; cheap to me means having money but not fixing things or maintaining stuff because you don't want to spend money i.e turning the heat down in the winter to the point you need to wear a sweater but have 1M in the bank.

Cheap to Dominicans means not paying for the most expensive clothing or following any social trend or status symbol because you realize at a certain point the quality does not improve just the logo, cheap to them also means not paying for 10 people when they go out and drink 20 beers each "because you have the money".

When comparing the culture against Canada where I grew up in a very Anglo-Canadian small town; hard work and humbleness was displayed a lot my grandfather being a farmer did not receive a lot of money and the conservation of money and the humble acceptance of fixing tractors, cars, trucks houses and just in general learning to do things yourself was a proud skill - one of which made you feel independent and happy to have because of less reliance on others, but here this is almost like a no no simple things like painting it's strongly recommended to get a painter to the point it sounds like a broken record, broken A.C unit you have to bring it to Jose, when I painted my wife's families rooms and it looked better than the local Michael D'Angelo people were in shock, when I figured out all the AC needed was freon re-load they thought it was crazy, but at the same time listening to people around me ( not family ) they were asserting how poor I was because I didn't hire people to do it for me, like that's totally messed. Another last example is bringing money here let's say a mere $1000 which is not that much obviously but it's enough to buy a medium-size purchase and bank teller will scoff and say "I don't know why you want to put that dinerito in here" acting as if it was 5 pesos when in reality that's 4 months of work to her.

Another direct example I have my friend whom of which is super humble, works hard in the D.R and is just awesome to be around (the guy has even paid for me before and insisted ) he has this car which is very reliable and he takes good care of it, not the best car a Toyota Diesel but when we stopped at a light I couldn't help but here a moto concho say to his friend I rather walk than have a car like that, the wheels look so ugly! like really man? you have a 1980 moto concho that burns oil with no footpegs, looking over at my friend he replied humbly and told me he's a loco diablo, but I can see this bugged him and it was not the first time someone has said something like this to him.

The culture also overflows when they immigrate in some circumstances but normally they calm down a bit with this here as people don't really care here especially if you're not from big cities, but oddly they seek out other Dominicans here to play this game with - There is a Dominican guy who now lives in Toronto, first purchase he made was a truck a rather new one, the second purchase was putting a lowering kit on it which is a very bad idea here third thing he did was get the tackiest Gucci symbol he could find to put on the back window.


So here are my theories and again guys, this is speculation and not meant to rant just rather casual observations of which I'm curious about..

  • Denial and pathological lying of financial and cultural social status
  • Lack of responsibility and accountability regarding critical thinking and financial planning and a conscious realization of this passing it off as having lots of disposable income
  • A lot of jealousy agitated by lack of skills and education
  • Extremely insecure
  • Laziness agitated by lack of action on their part and passiveness to life in general and submission to the mindset everything is out of their control
  • Plain show-off which they have been taught

Interested to hear some responses please keep it clean and objective we don't want to bash people here, but speak your mind at the same time.
 

GusFring

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
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Stopped reading after "I was at Golds Gym in Puerta Plata."🥶

Yes, 3rd world shallowness and thats not even the right word.

Your summation is spot on. Dominican men are also emotionally 4 years old.
 

Africaida

Gold
Jun 19, 2009
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I am guilty of not reading through the entire post but developing countries in general are very very segregated based in social status. It s not unique to DR.

I am from UMC background in a poor country , behavior and who you talk to is very strict and coded. It s hard to explain or understand unless you are from such a society.
I would say it s very much the same in North America/Europe but because the boundaries are a bit less rigid, it is not that obvious ( it is there though, think old money vs new money for example).
 

NY2STI

Active member
Mar 22, 2020
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Young urbanites in the U.S. call it frontin'. $2,000.00 wheels on a 10 year old Honda, $150.00 sneakers and a $5.00 t-shirt. top of the line audio at home, but utilities shut off for non payment. Dynamics in the D.R. may be a little different, but the idea is essentially the same. Teach your children that the people you are trying to impress aren't worth impressing.
 

NY2STI

Active member
Mar 22, 2020
94
111
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I am guilty of not reading through the entire post but developing countries in general are very very segregated based in social status. It s not unique to DR.

I am from UMC background in a poor country , behavior and who you talk to is very strict and coded. It s hard to explain or understand unless you are from such a society.
I would say it s very much the same in North America/Europe but because the boundaries are a bit less rigid, it is not that obvious ( it is there though, think old money vs new money for example).
Pardon my ignorance...What does UMC mean? Upper Middle Class?
 

GringoRubio

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Oct 15, 2015
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You touched on a lot of points and they are all good questions, and most of them a chalk up to just being part of the culture. I'd break this up into more targeted questions on multiple threads spaced out over time.

To pick up one thread, dominicans definitely have a fuzzy relationship with the truth. For instance, somebody can claim to be monogamous and love their spouse but still have multiple sexual partners. This could be either pure cognitive dissonance or as an English friend of mine described as "plutonic sex". There's no love in it, so in their mind, they are monogamous. There may be as many answers as there are dominicans, or perhaps, the "problem" is with my narrow definition of monogamy. It's definitely cultural. But, then why would the people involved be engaging in sex with other partners on the QT, and drop into a rage when discovering the "cheating" of their partner. It's baffling, but yet widespread.

I think Dominicans are a melting pot of a many cultures, and those culture's behaviors often conflict, but yet, they seem completely comfortable with those behaviors.
 

Big

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2019
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one word. Education! Different classes place different emphasis on different things. The lower end place a high emphasis on cars cloths and jewelry. The educated set encourage continuing school, sophistication in simple behavior such as the proper way to handle cutlery, table manners and communication. Same as the U.S
 

bob saunders

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Jan 1, 2002
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The UMC and UC look down on their fellow Dominicans with great disdain...even if they happen to even look at any of them.

It is despicable to me.
Some may do so but most don't . Most of my wife's life-long friends were from the UMC, MC and even rich and she was just the daughter of the cook in an UMC house. She has been friends with these people for 50 plus years. My wife, by Dominican standards is now UMC and she isn't pretentious at all. She is very respectful to even beggars.
 

arete92

Member
Jul 5, 2018
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Yeah and there is also another odd social dynamic that comes out between different social classes here a rich person will never speak to a poor person, I may get scolded for saying this but I understand it and here's why ( although they should give basic respect to everyone ) For one there would be nothing to talk about the personalities and experiences have so far deviated from one another it would be awkward for both and Dominican, in general, are very honest about their emotions and "let it out" so to speak, second is the concept in Dominican culture in every interaction there is a winner and loser, the person with no money has a low risk of losing anything out of the conversation or interaction while the rich person could get robbed, begged at, have someone follow them for 10 mins pretending to be nice. Using my birth country again for reference ( Canada ) this does not happen where I grew up, it would be shameful to ever deploy such a tactic BUT the biggest thing is Canadian culture is largely conscious on keeping the peace and being a good ol' chap although a conversation between people of different social classes do not occur that much when they do there is common ground and common values that allow them to talk on those points and relate to one another and no automatic assumption someone is trying to take resources from me, while Dominican culture is very focused on the family but not their community there is a sense of us and them here. Some people may argue that point but I find the community thing here is very superficial as there are no social programs and lots of corruption in all sectors and constant watchers in the barrios and common locations waiting for an opportunity to gain something but also more subtle things like caring for the environment, noise, garbage, and communal safety all make up what we call a community.
 

arete92

Member
Jul 5, 2018
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I personally think it's 70% education and 30% cultural, but will say when you are in the family circle it's awesome to have people you can trust and just do activities with, sitting in Canada now I have seen my good friends 4 times the last year which is slightly depressing, but the dynamics here are a lot more complicated to be fair work and other related responsibilities and their attitudes are different.
 

Big

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Apr 24, 2019
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This is not just just a Dominican concept. People in the U.S of different social status rarely mingle. Even at big sporting venues you have the cheap nose bleed seats and the expensive seats that sell for 4 and 5 hundred dollars. Of course it is never appropriate to talk down to domestic and service workers but why would a businessman, executive , professional want to engage in any type of dialogue other than pleasantries with this class.
 

arete92

Member
Jul 5, 2018
70
1
8
This is not just just a Dominican concept. People in the U.S of different social status rarely mingle. Even at big sporting venues you have the cheap nose bleed seats and the expensive seats that sell for 4 and 5 hundred dollars. Of course it is never appropriate to talk down to domestic and service workers but why would a businessman, executive , professional want to engage in any type of dialogue other than pleasantries with this class.
This is true, although I find the social class is a little less-defined in Canada compared to the U.S in the cities our two cultures are nearly identical I feel there are some subtle differences in this regard, although in some regions of U.S I felt this a lot less than others.
 

CaribeDigital

Active member
Sep 5, 2014
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Good insight. Will help you to get by in here.
An example from my experience: a lawyer wanted to visit me for business. He came in a nice jipeta, although he could walk judging by the distance. There was a FOR SALE sign on the car. I said I could help him to sell it, but he declined (the business had nothing to do with cars). A few days later I saw the car in a sales yard. He borrowed it for one hour to impress me.
 

arete92

Member
Jul 5, 2018
70
1
8
Good insight. Will help you to get by in here.
An example from my experience: a lawyer wanted to visit me for business. He came in a nice jipeta, although he could walk judging by the distance. There was a FOR SALE sign on the car. I said I could help him to sell it, but he declined (the business had nothing to do with cars). A few days later I saw the car in a sales yard. He borrowed it for one hour to impress me.
Oh man, that's really ridiculous but not that surprising, unfortunately. I know Dominicans that come from Canada to visit home and rent gold chains for their vacation.
 
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Big

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Apr 24, 2019
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go into any poor apartment complex in the U.S and the parking lot is filled with shiny late model cars. Most of them bought used after a lease has been turned. Priorities!!! same here on the island. flash and bling is important to the lower class.
 
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