Posted on 14. February 2014
I originate from the South of Spain, cradle of most stereotypes that hound contemporary Spaniards. We are said to be lazy, carefree and unconcerned about the future – especially when we get into debts we cannot pay.
Reality is that the socio-economic conditions in a rural background are adverse if one intends to go a long way. Professional ambitions are very determined by our family context (not all of us are informed about the possibility to go to Oxford), and even when we hold high expectations, poor language education and reduced scholarship schemes do not make it any easy. I am now a researcher at the European University Institute after holding degrees from the London School of Economics and the Universities of Bristol and Granada. I have worked hard, I have made conscious choices about my future. But I could not have made it without social help, good advice and some luck.
Young Spanish people are chased by an inferiority complex for feeling they cannot compete with the education of their European neighbours. Somehow they accept this inferiority and think that at least they are not boring, square minded and selfish – which does not help. If Spaniards were more critical about the circumstances that created their stereotypes (and not just taking them as a fact), they could be encouraged to overcome their obstacles and move on. Stereotypes originate from socio-economic reasons. Understanding these reasons could release Spaniards (and other Europeans) from their clichés, promote mutual understanding and hopefully, mutual learning.
About this article:
All Spaniards are lazy, all Greeks are corrupt and Romanians work for the mafia: Everywhere in Europe stereotypes are in full bloom. For the German newspaper www.sueddeutsche.de, six FutureLab Europe participants describe the impact of prejudices about their home country on their everyday life. This article is part a part of a series of reflections by young Europeans, prepared in cooperation between FutureLab and Süddeutsche Zeitung Online.