Inventing Hispanics: Labeling A Diverse Minority

Popular stereotypes about Hispanic workers say that they are lazy, slow and often interrupt for a siesta. It is widely believed that a Hispanic employee can have lunch for two hours, or their five-minute breaks will last for half an hour. They may be sick on the day of the delivery of a major project or be late for an important morning meeting (Bhatti, 2021). Hispanic employees let their colleagues down by forcing them to sort out their cases. According to stereotypes, Latino workers procrastinate a lot: they leave work for later, wasting time on unimportant tasks. Such an employee creates additional tension in the team especially when the deadline is approaching.

Family values, which tend to be strong in Hispanic cultures, contribute to these popular stereotypes about Hispanic workers. Parents who have to work hard from morning to night are not able to spend enough time with their children who suffer without parents’ attention. Therefore, Latino employees are not ready to work during their personal time (Etzioni, 2002). They try to devote the minimum possible amount of time and effort to it, saving and directing their energy for household, and not for work.

These values contribute to a perception that Hispanics lack the initiative and drive so valued in today’s workplace. This is due to the fact that for them work is not the highest value in life. Unlike Western countries, in Latin American countries, it is considered that a person’s success is not determined by whether they live in a good house, whether they regularly go to vacations by sea and whether they have a smartphone of the latest model (Martínez & Gonzalez, 2020). The highest degree of wealth for Spaniards is considered a large and friendly family.

Latino workers direct all their initiative and drive to relationships with their family members, and not to work. They prefer to spend as much time as possible with family and friends, often sacrificing the opportunity to earn more for this, refusing a highly paid, but time-consuming position. Career success is not the goal of a Hispanic’s life: it is much more important for them to realize themselves as a husband, wife, father or mother (Martínez & Gonzalez, 2020). It is in these social roles that Hispanics show drive and initiative, whereas as workers they are more indifferent and passive.

The first common stereotype about Hispanics is that there are many drug addicts and aggressors among them. This is due to perceptions of Latin America, whose political system is often associated with coups. Therefore, it seems to many that due to the tense situation in the country, the behavior of Spaniards may be marginal. The stereotypical image of young male Hispanics includes drugs and stabbing when conflicts arise (Bhatti, 2021). The second common stereotype about Hispanics is that Latinos are very musical: they play guitar a lot and sing. Stereotypical residents of South America often gather in a friendly company, where they have loud and noisy fun. Among the peoples inhabiting Latin America, kinship and friendly ties are strong, so they often visit their friends and relatives.

These stereotypes negatively affect career mobility for Hispanics. Such stereotypes of perception of immigrants from Latin America give rise to arguments about the facts of discrimination on national grounds, and not due to non-compliance with professional requirements for employment. Due to stereotypes among employers, there is an opinion that Hispanics are harsh and can be rude to the client, or tend to work poorly. Therefore, they often have an increased probation period, or are denied of employment (Etzioni, 2002). However, this violation of rights is very difficult to prove in court, because the employer most often translates his claims on national grounds into other reasons. Hispanics are rejected under the pretext of insufficient qualifications, limited competence, unsuitable education or little experience. The presence of stereotypes causes the head of the company to be excessively picky about the nationality of the future employee. Due to the prevalence of certain ideas about Hispanics in society, the Latin American appearance or name of employers can cause hostility on a subconscious level.

The popular media, including television, newspapers, movies, and music, create ethno-cultural stereotypes of perception of Latin American countries. One of the most persistent stereotypes about Latinos created by means of English-language media is a lazy Mexican, a Latin American mistress, a forced laborer and a servant, but the most common and destructive is the image of a violent criminal Latin American (Martínez & Gonzalez, 2020). The history of the creation of these stereotypes has deep roots in the history of US literature and entertainment media. These stereotypes were created and popularized during the Industrial Revolution thanks to large print runs of cheap tabloid novels in which Latinos, mostly, played the roles of villains. Then Hollywood took over, where the negative image of Latinos was replicated for a long time. Early Hollywood movies were simply replete with racist images. Thus, being a tool for manipulating social values and people’s behavior, stereotypes and prejudices about Hispanics contribute to the stereotyping of consciousness regulated by mass media.


Etzioni, A. (2002). Inventing Hispanics: A diverse minority resists being labeled. In Brookings Review (pp. 90-93). Brookings Institution Press.

Bhatti, H. A. (2021). Toward “inclusifying” the underrepresented minority in stem education research. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 22(3), 1–6.

Martínez, D. E., & Gonzalez, K. E. (2020). “Latino” or “Hispanic”? The sociodemographic correlates of pan ethnic label preferences among US Latinos/Hispanics. Sociological Perspectives, 00(0), 1–22.