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Individual differences |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |
Acculturation explains the process of cultural and psychological change that results following meeting between cultures. The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both interacting cultures. At the group level, acculturation often results in changes to culture, customs, and social institutions. Noticeable group level effects of acculturation often include changes in food, clothing, and language. At the individual level, differences in the way individuals acculturate have been shown to be associated not just with changes in daily behavior, but with numerous measures of psychological and physical well-being. As enculturation is used to describe the process of first-culture learning, acculturation can be thought of as second-culture learning.
The concept of acculturation has been studied scientifically since 1918. As it has been approached at different times from the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology, numerous theories and definitions have emerged to describe elements of the acculturative process. Despite definitions and evidence that acculturation entails a two-way process of change, research and theory have primarily focused on the adjustments and adaptations made by minorities such as immigrants, refugees, and indigenous peoples in response to their contact with the dominant majority. Contemporary research has primarily focused on different strategies of acculturation and how variations in acculturation affect how well individuals adapt to their society.
The earliest recorded thoughts towards acculturation can be found in Sumerian inscriptions from 2370 B.C. These inscriptions laid out rules for commerce and interaction with foreigners designed to limit acculturation and protect traditional cultural practices. Plato also said that acculturation should be avoided as he thought it would lead to social disorder. Accordingly, he proposed that no one should travel abroad until they are at least 40 years of age, and that travellers should be restricted to the ports of cities to minimize contact with native citizens. Nevertheless, the history of Western civilization, and in particular the histories of Europe and the United States, are largely defined by patterns of acculturation.
J.W. Powell is credited with coining the word "acculturation" in 1880, defining it as "the psychological changes induced by cross-cultural imitation." The first psychological theory of acculturation was proposed in W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki's 1918 study, "The Polish Peasant in Europe and America." From studying Polish immigrants in Chicago, they illustrated three forms of acculturation corresponding to three personality types: Bohemian (adopting the host culture and abandoning their culture of origin), Philistine (failing to adopt the host culture but preserving their culture of origin), and Creative-Type (able to adapt to the host culture while preserving their culture of origin). In 1936, Redfield, Linton, & Herskovits provided the first widely used definition of acculturation as "those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups…under this definition acculturation is to be distinguished from…assimilation, which is at times a phase of acculturation Since then scholars in different disciplines have developed more than 100 different theories of acculturation.
Conceptual Models of AcculturationEdit
Although numerous models of acculturation exist, the most complete models take into consideration the changes occurring at the group and individual levels of both interacting groups. To understand acculturation at the group level, one must first look at the nature of both cultures before coming into contact with one another. A useful approach is Eric Kramer's (1988 1992, 1997a, 2003, 2011, 2012) theory of Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation.
Kramer's theory of Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation (DAD) utilizes concepts from several scholars, most notably Jean Gebser and Lewis Mumford, to synthesize an explanation of widely observed cultural expressions and differences along a Neo-Kantian manifold of spatial and temporal variance similar to the work of Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, J. T. Faser, Sigfried Giedion, James Gibson, Maurice Grosser, Edmund Carpenter, Edward T. Hall, Walter Ong, James Carey, Robert Levine, and others but with many updates and additions. Most importantly, Kramer's DAD theory emphasizes how various cultures communicate in generalized terms from idolic to symbolic to signalic communication styles that helps explain intercultural differences that influence intercultural and inter-ethnic relations as well as acculturation processes. The DAD theory stresses however that dimensional accrual is simply an additive process of dimensions. It does not presuppose a linear metaphysic nor the ethnocentric concept of "progress" which is presumed in some theories of acculturation claiming for example, that intercultural adaptation moves in an "upward-forward" manner toward the singular and final goal of total assimilation (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, pp. 381–382) Gudykunst and Kim (2003) define intercultural adaptation as an "upward-forward" progress of "acculturation that brings about change in strangers in the direction of assimilation, the highest degree of adaptation theoretically conceivable. It is the process by which strangers resocialized into a new culture so as to attain an increasing functional fitness... complete adaptation is a lifetime goal." (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, p. 360).
Because no utopian goal or final solution to intercultural misunderstanding or "miscommunication" (as Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, put it p. 361) is postulated by the DAD theory such as an "upward-forward progress" in human development toward total assimilation, the DAD theory cannot be used to measure movement toward final desired and postulated outcomes based on value judgments. Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation does not posit and advance a particular type of ideal person or society. Rather, it is a social scientific theory, not a proposed method of social engineering. Gudykunst and Kim (2003) make it a point to postulate a utopian or ideal type person they confusingly call an "intercultural person" or a "universal person" with "transcultural identity" (pp. 383–384). They argue that this new ideal type of person and society can and should be engineered by all means available including using the mass media and primary schools to manufacture them "by design" (pp. 389, 395). Though they never cite them, Gudykunst and Kim's intercultural adaptation theory is not dissimilar to the Victorian Era ideology promoted in England for the betterment of that empire at home and abroad by Herbert Spencer, Francis Galton, and Karl Pearson. Interestingly, Pearson saw fit to change the spelling of his own name from Carl to Karl later in life. In fact Spencer's use of the concepts adaptation, evolution, and progress are very similar to how they are used by Gudykunst and Kim (2003) in their theory of Intercultural Adaptation and their ideal-type person the "Intercultural person" who presumably, if such a person existed, would live in a world beyond the "emotional defilements" (p. 385) and distinctions of culture; entirely "above the hidden forces of culture" (385).
Since natural selection is too slow, Gudykunst and Kim (2003) argue forcefully that creating conditions on a mass scale to inculcate this new, more developed and better kind of person is not only moral but will be a "special privilege" (p. 389) for those so "trained" (p. 359). If primary enculturation as a child is missed then they argue that the same social institutions should be used for the "resocialization and acculturation" (p. 359) of unfit persons by means of the disintegration and reintegration of their psyches in line with the "conformity pressure" of the dominant mainstream culture. In this way they may achieve a higher level of "evolution" (p 384), "competence" (p. 364), "operational ability" (p. 363), "functional fit" (pp. 372, 382), and "productivity" (pp. 363, 380). This will assure the smooth running of the mainstream culture. According to Gudykunst and Kim (2003), any resistance to conformity or any lack of enthusiasm for disintegrating and unlearning one's original self on the part of the immigrant suggests that they are "mentally ill" (pp. 365, 373), "hostile" and irrationally "aggressive" (pp. 368–372), weak (p. 369), lacking "self-control" (p. 369), and "maturity" (pp. 377, 381), "self-deceived," "unrealistic," deluded (pp. 369, 379-382), and simply "maladjusted" and failing to "perceive the world and himself correctly" (pp. 372–373).
The key to achieving perfect functional fit and communication, according to Gudykunst and Kim (2003) is for the immigrant to "unlearn" and "deculturize" (pp. 360, 379-382) themselves and avoid "ethnic communication activities" (p. 368). According to Gudykunst and Kim (2003), unfortunately some people have personalities that are inherently less amenable to such deculturization and training and they tend to be "unrealistic," "functionally unfit," and "aggressive" (pp. 368–372). Presumably, since Gudykunst and Kim (2003) define these negative traits as "personality predispositions" (p. 368) or "adaptive predisposition" (p. 370) they could, just as Galton and Pearson proposed, be bred out of the human population through comparison of group statistical means and selective reproduction. While logic may lead this way, current morality does not. Gudykunst and Kim (2003) go more for forced compliance via public education as they argue that the new kind of better person and world they promote can be created by "programming" peoples' minds (p. 358) through intense socialization so that the cultural patterns they (Gudykunst and Kim) evaluate as good are "etched into our nervous systems and become part of our personalities and behavior" (p. 376).
Differently, Kramer's DAD theory (Kramer, 1992, 1997a, 2003, 2011, 2012.) is based on the observation that different cultures manifest predominantly different modes of communicating; idolic or symbolic or signalic, which are merely different relative to each other. No one mode of communication is inherently and universally superior to the others. No final solution to intercultural conflict is suggested by Kramer. Instead he puts forth three integrated theories, Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation, Cultural Fusion Theory (Kramer, 1997a, 2000a, 2011, 2012) and Cultural Churning Theory (Kramer, 1997a, 2003, 2011, 2012) on what he calls "panevolutionary" systems principles whereby all elements of a system, including minority elements, directly or indirectly influence each others' future trajectories in a broader ecological process. This is more in line with chaos theory. Each modality (idolic, symbolic, and signalic) has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on circumstance. As dissociation increases from idolic to symbolic to signalic communication, emotional investment and identification decreases and symbols become increasingly arbitrary.
For instance, according to Kramer's DAD theory (1992, 1997a, 2003, 2011, 2012) a statue of a god in an idolic community literally is god and if you steal it you will be in big trouble. Many millions of people in India believe that "statues of" the god Ganesh drink milk and people in Taiwan buy airplane seat tickets for the "statue of" the goddess Matsu to visit her mainland Chinese home. To take such a statue/god from its temple is more than a theft, it is blasphemy perhaps worthy of death. One-dimensional idolic perception and communication involves identity and being identical. Idolic reality involves strong emotional identification. A holy relic does not simply symbolize the sacred, it is sacred and if lost or destroyed it cannot be replicated. It can be replaced by another relic but if lost or destroyed it is gone. Idolic things and places, such as the Temple Mount or the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem are not arbitrary. They are not merely real-estate. They cannot be moved because the land itself is sacred and so it is very difficult if not impossible to compromise, to negotiate away commitments for to do so is to violate peoples' very identities as devout Muslims and Jews. If you lose your lucky rabbit's foot or magic power crystal you've literally lost your luck or power. By contrast the symbolic two dimensional nature of a crucifix purchased for a church means that if you steal it you have not literally stolen God but it is still a more emotional theft than say a speaker system for that faith community. A two-dimensional symbol involves ambiguity in the form of both literal and figural meaning. Finally, if you choose to communicate in a three-dimensional signalic modality, for instance in x's and o's rather than p's and q's, few if any will care because everything in the signalic modality is arbitrary. The circumstantial nature of the relative communicative competence and effectiveness of one style over another can be exemplified by coaching. It may be more advantageous given the goal of winning for an athletic coach to be highly idolic and emotional in a half-time speech even equating the stadium with "our house," this season as "our time," and the number previously worn by a deceased teammate as "his presence on the field" when worn by another player, but it is more advantageous to be less emotional and more dissociated and signalic when discussing the x's and o's of strategy and tactics days in advance of a game. This is why it is not advisable for an otherwise very sober and analytic surgeon to perform emergency surgery on his own family member but it is advisable and appropriate for the same father or spouse to become emotionally involved and overtly cheer for the same family member during a sporting event or musical performance.
The kind of flexibility that would enable a person to not care too much about differing lifestyles and to deculturize and acculturize with ease would constitute a sort of perfect postmodern non-identity. Despite whatever value judgments one might have about it, pride in one's community, one's ethnic group membership, one's nation and the like, are forms of prejudice. A fundamental premise in hermeneutics and semiotics, which Kramer's DAD theory accepts as true is that identity depends on difference. So too do meaning, communication, and learning. If everyone assimilates into a monoculture that would mean that identity, meaning, and communication would cease to be (Kramer, 1992, 1997a, 2003). Regardless of how one may judge it, the fact is that the stronger one's sense of identity, the more likely one is to care about it, to see themselves as different—the more meaningful it (personal concept) is and the world one inhabits. The important point here is that the more a person manifests self-esteem and self-efficacy the more outgoing and resilient they will be in a foreign environment. In other words, it is not necessarily the case that the more confident a person is the more flexible they will be. Quite the contrary. Pride is a form of prejudice. The more dissociated a person is, the more things become arbitrary and the less they care about them. For instance, according to Kramer's DAD theory, religious identity for a predominantly idolic person, is not perceived by them as arbitrary, not even questionable. By comparison, a predominantly symbolic person may be able to convert from one religious faith to another but such a change in identity has very profound emotional consequences. For a signalic person where everything is arbitrary, changing churches is like shopping. It is a matter of personal choice and convenience, a matter of membership. In fact one may choose to not belong to a religious community entirely without much concern. But for an idolic person religious identity is not at all an issue of membership or choice. It is inherent to who one is. So acculturation varies from one person to another depending on what worldview they manifest.
A pure postmodern nihilist, if one exists, is not likely to fight for anything. This may be good or it may be bad depending on your own beliefs and value system. But regardless of the goodness or badness of such a status, according to the observations that led to the development of the DAD theory, there are few if any real total nihilists in this world. Pure nihilism is a sort of fantasy that is not very useful for explaining actual conditions in multicultural and intercultural circumstances where acculturation and assimilation are salient. Additionally and ironically, nihilism itself is a school of thought, an "ism" which is a particular perspective. As Hans-Georg Gadamer in his book Truth and Method (1960 Ger./1984 Eng.), argues a person without a perspective, a prejudice, could not understand or make sense of anything because understanding is always already from a point-of-view which both enables interpretation and limits it at the same time. Francis Bacon agrees and enumerates such structural enabling and blinding elements of perception/interpretation in the form of his four idols (tribe which involves species limitations such as the innately human abilities to see, hear, taste..., the idol of the theater which involves dogmas and ideologies, the idol of the cave which involves my personal limitations such as my education, my IQ, my eyesight..., and the idol of the market place which involves how others I associate with influence my thinking and perception). Hence Gadamer's claim that naive objectivity postulates knowledge without a fallible knower, that such a philosophy constitutes an irrational prejudice against prejudice. It is irrational because it is hopelessly idealistic suggesting the possibility of what Marurice Merleau-Ponty called "immaculate perception."
Bottom line, prejudice is not only inescapable but it is a necessary condition for understanding or sense-making as we know it. This is why acculturation, according to Kramer's DAD theory, is a mode of learning, of integrating new information, and this process of integration is always in terms understandable to the learner. The fallibility of the human condition and cultural prejudice may seem "sad" or "bad" but the DAD theory is not promoting value judgments but instead offers an attempted explanation of what is the case. Perspectivism in epistemological terms is unavoidable. Just as I cannot go to the gym and lose weight for you so too I cannot learn for you. You must learn for yourself. You must make the knowledge your own. How an individual acculturates is a very individual and personal process. A predominantly idolic person will integrate into a social milieu differently than a symbolic or signalic person. A Sub-Saharian tribesman will integrate into urban Los Angeles differently than a student from Paris. A good example of differential integration and acculturation based on the immigrant manifesting one communicative modality and worldview while their host culture manifests a different one is to be found in Anne Fadiman's (1997) book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down about a Laotian girl who has immigrated to Merced, California and who falls ill. How her parents interpret her illness is very different from how her doctors interpret her illness. The conflicts and miscommunications that are illustrated in this study can best be explained by applying Kramer's theory of Dimensional Accural and Dissociation. As a social scientist our job is to offer an explanation of why things are as they are—to understand and predict. It is inadequate to say that such problems of intercultural communication can be solved by simply eliminating cultural difference altogether; by one side totally erasing themselves and conforming to the other side's way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. This simply does not and cannot happen. Even if they wish, a person cannot willfully unlearn themselves or change their racial phenotype. Another good example that illustrates differential modes of acculturation is found in the 2008 documentary Split Horn (directed by Taggart Siegel) about a Hmong Shaman living in Appleton Wisconsin. Also recommended is Sabine Kuegler's (1980) book Child of the Jungle: The True Story of a Girl Caught Between Two Worlds about a "German" girl who grew up in the Fayu tribe in West Papua with her missionary parents and what happened to her when she "returned" to Europe at age 17.
Taking into consideration the nature of the contact, one must look at how acculturation results in changes to the culture of both groups. Kramer (2009) refers to such change as co-evolution. Kramer (2010) also addresses what he calls the qualities of entrance vectors which addresses the nature of contact. Interaction potential is one aspect of entrance vector. Interaction potential deals with the immigrant, migrant, or refugee after already settling into a host cultural milieu. It involves how receptive a host culture is to the newcomer, how easy is it for the newcomer to interact with and get to know indigenous folks, and vice versa. Of course language is a big part of this and it greatly impacts acculturation. Regarding entrance vectors, there are essential differences between forced immigration due to war and famine constituting refugee status and selective immigration for commercial and professional desires. Entrance vector involves forced versus voluntary immigration as well as host community receptivity. A surge of thousands of unwanted and reluctant refugees across a border may actually prompt a reactionary backlash from a neighboring nation while, by contrast, corporations may seek out skilled workers in other countries and attempt to lure them with financial benefits to relocate. Why a person immigrates is just as important as the receptivity of her host cultural destination (Kramer, 2000c, 2009, 2011). Unrealistic expectations on one or both "sides" can lead to increased conflict, and/or a more profound sense of culture shock, disappointment, and depression. Examples can include when relatively wealthy people retire to other countries where the locals may expect an unrealistic boost to their economy or when a corporation relocates bringing with it unforeseen problems such as a foreign management style or pollution. Unforeseen variance in presumed appropriateness of inequality among people (power distance), or age or gender appropriate decorum are common sources of unrealistic expectations (see work on expectancy violation theory).
Such differences in motivation, expectation, and perceived sense of agency have profound consequences for the acculturation process. At the individual level, elements of both the original cultures from which immigrants hail and the cultures to which they migrate must be taken into consideration when considering an individual's psychological acculturation. Psychological acculturation concerns the behavioral shifts and experienced thoughts, feelings, and stress associated with cultural change. Differences in psychological acculturation then affect how well individuals adapt to their new cultural environment, leading to both psychological and sociocultural outcomes such as experiencing low self-esteem or acquiring a new language.
Meta-analyses of research on acculturation have shown pronounced disagreement in the categorization of different strategies of acculturation. However, the majority of these models have divided the ways in which individuals approach acculturation into four categories.
The fourfold model categorizes acculturation strategies along two dimensions. The first dimension concerns the retention or rejection of an individual's minority or native culture (i.e. "Is it considered to be of value to maintain one's identity and characteristics?"). The second dimension concerns the adoption or rejection of the dominant group or host culture (i.e. "Is it considered to be of value to maintain relationships with the larger society?") From this, four acculturation strategies emerge.
- Assimilation – Assimilation occurs when individuals reject their minority culture and adopt the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture.
- Separation – Separation occurs when individuals reject the dominant or host culture in favor of preserving their culture of origin. Separation is often facilitated by immigration to ethnic enclaves.
- Integration – Integration occurs when individuals are able to adopt the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture while maintaining their culture of origin. Integration leads to, and is often synonymous with biculturalism.
- Marginalization – Marginalization occurs when individuals reject both their culture of origin and the dominant host culture.
Predictors of Acculturation StrategiesEdit
The fourfold models used to describe the attitudes of immigrant groups parallel models used to describe the expectations of the larger society of how groups should acculturate. In a melting pot society, in which a harmonious and homogenous culture is promoted, assimilation is the endorsed acculturation strategy. In segregationist society, in which humans are separated into racial groups in daily life, a separation acculturation strategy is endorsed. In a multiculturalist society, in which multiple cultures are accepted and appreciated, individuals are encouraged to adopt an integrationist approach to acculturation. In societies where cultural exclusion is promoted, individuals often adopt marginalization strategies of acculturation.
Attitudes of the larger society towards acculturation, and thus the range of acculturation strategies available, have not been consistent over time. For example, for most of American history, policies and attitudes have been based around established ethnic hierarchies with an expectation of one-way assimilation for European immigrants. Although the notion of cultural pluralism has existed since the early 20th century, the recognition and promotion of multiculturalism did not come to prominence in America until the 1980s. Separatism can still be seen today in autonomous religious communities such as the Amish and the Hutterites. Immediate environment also impacts the availability and advantage of different acculturation strategies. As individuals immigrate to unequal segments of society, immigrants to areas low on economic and ethnic hierarchies may find efforts to assimilate leading to limited social mobility and membership to a disadvantaged community.
It should also be noted that most individuals show variation in both their ideal and chosen acculturation strategies across different domains of their lives. For example, among immigrants, it is often easier and more desired to acculturate to their host society's attitudes towards politics and government, than it is to acculturate to new attitudes about religion, principles, and values.
Outcomes of AcculturationEdit
A great deal of public health research has used the degree to which individuals adopt the cultural norms of the dominant host culture as a predictor of numerous health outcomes, primarily among immigrant groups. Acculturation is thought to impact health by impacting levels of stress, access to health resources, and attitudes towards health. Among U.S. Latinos, higher levels of adoption of the American host culture has been associated with negative effects on health behaviors and outcomes, but positive effects on health care use and access. The effects of acculturation on physical health is thought to be a major factor in the Immigrant Paradox, the finding that first generation immigrants tend to have better health outcomes than members of the host culture, and that these differences decrease over generations.
One prominent explanation for the negative health behaviors and outcomes (e.g. substance use, low birth weight) associated with the acculturation process is the acculturative stress theory. Acculturative stress refers to the psychological, somatic, and social difficulties that may accompany acculturation processes, often manifesting in anxiety, depression and other forms of mental and physical maladaptation. Stress caused by acculturation has been documented in phenomenological research on the acculturation of adolescent female Mexican immigrants. This research has shown that acculturation is a "fatiguing experience requiring a constant stream of bodily energy", an "individual and familial endeavor", and involves "enduring loneliness caused by seemingly insurmountable language barriers". However, the same individuals also report "finding relief and protection in relationships" and "feeling worse and then feeling better about oneself with increased competencies" during the acculturative process.
In situations of continuous contact, cultures have exchanged and blended foods, music, dances, clothing, tools, and technologies. Cultural exchange can either occur naturally through extended contact, or deliberately though cultural appropriation or cultural imperialism.
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and art, religion, language, or behavior. These elements are typically imported into the existing culture, and may have wildly different meanings or lack the subtleties of their original cultural context. Because of this, cultural appropriation is sometimes viewed negatively, and has been called "cultural theft."
Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting the culture or language of one nation in another, usually occurring in situations in which assimilation is the dominant strategy of acculturation. Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active, formal policy or a general attitude regarding cultural superiority.
The transactional nature of acculturation is particularly notable in the evolution of languages. In some instances, acculturation results in the adoption of another country's language, which is then modified over time to become a new, distinct, language. For example, Hanzi, the written language of Chinese language, has been adapted and modified by other nearby cultures, including: Japan (as Kanji), Korea (as Hanja), and Vietnam (as Chữ-nôm). Another common effect of acculturation on language is the formation of pidgin languages. Pidgin is a mixed language that has developed to help communication between members of different cultures in contact, usually occurring in situations of trade or colonialism. For example, Pidgin English is a simplified form of English mixed with some of the language of another culture. Eric Kramer (2009) introduced the concepts of co- and pan-evolution to help explain acculturation and interculturual communication.
Controversies and debateEdit
Some anthropologists make a semantic distinction between group and individual levels of acculturation. In these instances, the term "transculturation" is used to define individual foreign-origin acculturation, and occurs on a smaller scale with less visible impact. Scholars making this distinction use the term "acculturation" only to address large-scale cultural transactions.
Recommended Models of AcculturationEdit
From the vast catalog of theories on acculturation, many different prescriptions have emerged for the most adaptive form of acculturation. When asking individuals about their preferred acculturation strategy, there is an almost universal preference for integration and dislike of marginalization. In general, most research seems to indicate that the integrationist model of acculturation will lead to the most favorable psychosocial outcomes A meta-analysis of the acculturation literature, however, found these results to be unclear. Recognizing that acculturation was measured inconsistently among these studies, a later meta-analysis of 40 studies showed that integration was indeed found to have a "significant, weak and positive relationship with psychological and sociocultural adjustment". Factors such as how different the two interacting cultures are, and how easily individuals can integrate these two cultures (bicultural identity integration) may partially explain why general statements about approaches to acculturation are not sufficient in predicting successful adaptation.
Surprisingly, given the work of scholars over the decades such as W.E.B Dubois (\\The Souls of Black Folk, 1903), and Milton Gordon, Robert Park, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nathan Glazer, and many others in the 1960s and 1970s, and J. W. Berry's work in the 1980s and 1990s there are still some theories that posit a fixed and dominant "mainstream culture" toward which the newcomer must conform by means of acculturation (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003). A good example of such a contemporary theory is Intercultural Adaptation Theory by William Gudykunst and Young Yun Kim (2003). They argue that an immigrant or migrant, what they call "stranger," manifests mental illness, immaturity, incompetence, and unsuccessful integration until and unless they are willing and able to "deculturize," and "unlearn" themselves (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003). Gudykunst and Kim (2003) argue that acculturation involves the disintegration and reintegration of the individual immigrant's psyche so that the immigrant will "evolve" or increasingly act, think, and feel (behavioral, cognitive, and affective conformity) just as an indigenous local does (pp. 364, 367). According to Gudykunst and Kim's theory of Intercultural Adaptation, it is not enough that when in Rome do as the Romans do but they argue that to be functionally fit one must think and have the same emotions as Romans. Failure to do so means, according to Gudykunst and Kim (2003), that the newcomer is irrationally hostile, immature, mentally ill, maladjusted, and unrealistic (pp. 367–374). They argue that acculturation is a single variable so that the newcomer becomes acculturated only to the extent that she "deculturizes" and "unlearns" herself with equal but opposite measure. But what if one cannot change color or gender preference or really does not want to change their language or religion? (Kramer, 2003, 1997b,). Furthermore, Gudykunst and Kim (2003) postulate that the individual psyche is like a full container so that every time the immigrant learns something new she must forget something old. To aid in their version of assimilation, which they equate with integration, both of which they equate with simple conformity (p. 373), Gudykunst and Kim (2003) logically argue therefore that the newcomer should refrain from any contact with their primary culture including avoiding media content from the home country, association with groups from the home culture, speaking one's original language, practicing in one's home faith, and so forth (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, pp. 365, 366).
As noted, in the field of intercultural communication, Gudykunst and Kim (2003, p. 360) have for two decades (through publications from 1984, 1992, 1997, 2003) consistently equated six concepts with each other; adaptation, integration, acculturation, evolution, conformity (see for instance 2003, p. 373), and assimilation. They equate these psychological processes with "upward-forward progress" toward a general "positivity" (p. 369), greater emotional maturity (p. 377, 381, 384), greater integration (pp. 381, 383), emancipation from ethnocentrism (p. 376, 382), increased cognitive complexity (versus being simple-minded, p. 383), enhanced "clarity" (p. 383), psychic growth/evolution (pp. 376, 380-382, 384), more developed and balanced perception (p. 383), greater mental health (p. 365, 372-376), greater functional/communicative competence (p. 361, 369, 372), being more realistic—conforming to "appropriate" patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving: "the accepted [mainstream] modes of experience" ("external objective circumstance", pp. 363, 369, 378, 380), being more emotionally stable/balanced (p. 383), overcoming "self-deception" and delusion (p. 380), and other positive sounding value judgments (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, pp. 357–390). They encourage the newcomer to be "plastic" (p. 380) and to fit or conform to whatever dominating social structure they find themselves in or be regarded as immature, insane, incompetent communicators, cynical, irrationally aggressive, devolved, muddled and simple-minded, and so forth. Gudykunst and Kim (2003) see no value in social change brought about by newcomers, or in people trying to expand things such as civil liberties in the face of unfair and unjust social conditions. For them the mainstream with its appropriate patterns of communication and coercive pressure to conform is simply a matter of numeric majority (p. 360). Of course this defies the general social scientific concept of majority power whereby often it is numerical minorities who rule numerical majorities. In order to help the newcomer become more mentally healthy, realistic, competent, and fit or appropriate in their emotional reactions and thoughts Gudykunst and Kim (2003) encourage the newcomer to "minimize maintenance of their original cultural habits" (p. 360) by severing relations with their ethnic relational network and abandoning involvements with their own ethnic institutions such as their original language, churches, synagogues, mosques and "ethnic media" (pp. 365–373).
Because Gudykunst and Kim (2003) see cognitive and emotional growth as a zero-sum process they believe that maintaining contact with one's ethnic group, institutions, and even media ("ethnic communication activities" p. 368), will "discourage strangers' development of host communication competence" (p. 372) and evolutionary transformation of their psyche toward greater "psychological health and functional fitness" (p. 372, 376). According to Gudykunst and Kim (2003) the way to being functionally fit is "to undergo a fundamental psychic transformation" and the way upward-forward is to "abandon our identification with the cultural patterns that have symbolized who we are and what we are" (p. 377). According to Gudykunst and Kim (2003) the newcomers ways are "ethnocentric" while the host societies ways are realistic and appropriate (p. 363, 369, 378, 380). The immigrant should "reassess" her "ethnocentric ways" (Gudykunst and Kim, p. 376). Finally and curiously, while the immigrant is strongly encouraged to assimilate into the mainstream "appropriate" (p. 363) ways of feeling, thinking, and behaving, the ultimate solution to intercultural misunderstanding and conflict, according to Gudykunst and Kim (2003) is to "rise above the hidden forces of culture" altogether and look at all cultures "objectively" (Gudykunst and Kim, 2003, p. 385). This they equate with the Buddhist notion of nirvana. But if hermeneutic theory argues anything, it is that one cannot escape the perspectival nature of perception, that, as Ludwig Landgrebe used to say, even God has a particular and unique way of seeing reality even if it is from all points simultaneously. Indeed only one being could possibly, inconceivably, manifest such a perspective.
By contrast, Kramer's (2011, 2010, 2000a,) theory of Cultural Fusion maintains a clear conceptual separation between assimilation, adaptation, and integration. Only assimilation involves conformity to a pre-existing form. Kramer's (2000a, 2000b, 2000c, 2003, 2009, 2011) theory of Cultural Fusion also postulates that as learning occurs cognitive complexity and growth increase. In other words, there is no need to unlearn something in order to learn something new. Learning is not a zero-sum game. So as the newcomer learns the ways of their adopted homeland they add new repertoires, new ways of cooking, working, dressing, seeking entertainment, playing, and so forth. The newcomer does not have to unlearn something old to learn something new. According to Cultural Fusion theory the individual and also the community is enriched as difference accrues. In accordance with hermeneutic theory, Kramer's theory of Cultural Fusion (2011, 2009, 2000b) argues that the old is not lost but is presumed and is necessary for integrating the new and as new information accrues the individual and the community is enriched. For example, as new cuisines enter a community, community members have more choices of restaurants thus enriching their dining experiences. As new foods become available, like putting colors side-by-side creates complementarity, old standards take on new meaning. Also as the individual learns more about spices they can be more innovative and enjoy more tastes. Borrowing from the hermeneutic theory of fusion of horizons developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Kramer's theory of Cultural Fusion suggest that as a newcomer enters a community there is mutual adjustment or Co-Evolution (Kramer, 2009), not merely cultural coersion for the newcomer to assimilate.
When a process is defined as "natural" the rhetoric suggests that it is inevitable, normal, good, and futile to question or resist. However, assimilation, especially forced assimilation, has been shown to be none of these things. Leon Festinger (1956) and Festinger and James Carlsmith (1959/2008) already demonstrated a quarter century before Gudykunst and Kim first published their theory (and this has been replicated many times since in psychology and sociology) that "forced compliance" does not make people happy, more peaceful, or enjoy greater "psychic equilibrium." Festinger (1957) and Festinger and Carlsmith (1959/2008) demonstrated that there are negative cognitive consequences to forced compliance. And prior to this work Herbert Kelman (1953) had already discovered that there is no linear correlation between rewards and change in opinion. A person may be compelled to change his or her attitude toward a state of affairs through either reward or punishment or a combination of the two, but it has been known for some time now that neither works very well in compelling a person to alter his or her opinion. Even forcing a person to rehearse the desired narrative or behavior does not achieve much "self-convincing." Rather, forced compliance can often lead to overt resistance to change. And compliance gaining is greatly complicated by cultural differences (K. Miller-Loessi & J. N. Parker, 2003; W. Griswold, 1994; J. Bruner, 1990/2010), gender differences (West & Fenstermaker, 1993; Fausto-Sterling, 1993; Ridgeway, 1993; Sprague & Zimmerman, 1993; Tuana, 1993; Haraway, 1991; Collins, 1991) disability (Cahill & Eggleston, 1994), perceptions of race and ethnicity (Miall, Ramsbothom, & Woodhouse, 2005; Rawls, 2000; Devine and Elliot, 1995; Stryker & Burke, 2000; Paul, 1998; Devine, 1996; Hunt, Jackson, Powell, & Steelman, 2000; Sherif, 1956/2008), comparative concepts of identity (Hogg, 2003; Stryker, Owens, and White, 2000; Gergen, 1991/2010; Snyder, 1980/2008), comparative concepts of family (Naples, 2001; Ferree, 1990; see the resource Journal of Comparative Family Studies), body aesthetics (Crandall, et al., 2001/2008; Cowley, 1996/2008), concepts of masculinity (Duneier, 1992; Anderson, 1990/2010), and so forth. Already in 1963, Nathan Glazer and Donald Moynihan observed that while some immigrant groups assimilate others retain aspects of their native culture. For instance, one may change one's religious affiliation and convert but even such a conversion for the deeply faithful is not a simple process of "church membership." Religion is an essential aspect of core identity. This has been demonstrated time and again (Croucher, 2008; Croucher and Cronin-Mills, 2011; Rokeach, 1968; Becker, 1973; Campbell, 1988).
According to Kramer (2000a, 2000b, 2000c, 2003, 2009), the presence of minorities constitutes an organic aspect of social system and as a newcomer enters a community both the individual and the community are changed. Such system-wide dynamics Kramer calls "cultural churning" (Kramer, 2003, 2009, 2012). Co-evolutionary relationships can be diffuse, as among all plants and insects, specific as between two cells in an organism or just two species, symbiotic or competitive (both being reciprocal), symmetrical or asymmetrical, and so forth (Kramer, 2000a, 2000c, 2009, 2012). Co-evolution was already recognized by Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859) as was the obvious trait of altruism (co-operation) in The Descent of Man (Darwin, 1871). Those who borrow terms such as "evolution" and "adaptation" need to be aware of what they mean. Adaptation does not mean assimilation or conformity. And evolution is almost always within a system so that it is really co-evolution or pan-evolution whereby all parts directly or indirectly, symmetrically or asymmetrically, symbiotically or competitively influence each other. Neither evolution nor adaptation means conformity to an already successful or dominant form such as "mainstream culture" or a simple majority. Rather as Darwin was amazed by the diversity of life he found on his voyage, evolution means innovation. It means endless trial of deviant forms, some of which prove successful and endure. One must remember that even the value-laden concept of progress requires deviance. The most "competent" and "successful" people are innovators in all things from the arts and sciences to industry and engineering. Patents and copyrights are for the new. This is the proper application of systems ecological nomenclature to the process of acculturation.
According to Kramer (2000c, 2003) it is impossible to willfully unlearn one's self and that even if it were possible it would not aid in the newcomer's adjustment process for the newcomer needs to integrate new information, making sense of new experiences in accord with their pre-understanding. An example of fusion, whereby the individual presumes and relies on pre-understandings to integrate new circumstances is driving a bicycle or automobile in a foreign environment. While people in England drive on the other side of the road from people in the United States, the English immigrant to the U.S. can adjust her driving practices while relying on her previous understanding of the rules of staying in one's lane, signaling before turning, leaving proper distance between moving cars, and other aspects of driving. The same pertains to many jobs. If she had to relearn all aspects of driving, her adjustment process would be much harder and take much more time. And as Thomas Sowell (1994) demonstrates, typically the most successful newcomers are ones who bring some new and different skills such as violin making, stone cutting, hard rock mining, and the like to their adopted communities. Those who find themselves to be redundant with skills already prevalent have a harder time. Evolution proceeds not through conformity and redundancy but through new emergent forms. As all business people know, it is easier to create a new niche than it is to go head-to-head with a firm already well established in the market place. And if one must go head-to-head, one must find some way to do things differently to find an identity; either have higher quality and/or lower prices, faster delivery and/or optionalization, etc. than the competition. Simply cloning the competition that is already established is not effective. Fusion of horizons also does not mean "unlearning" or disintegrating one's self and reintegrating as identical to a local. Fusion is an explanation of integration, and integration unlike assimilation means that the identities of individuals endure so that differences, which constitute meaning and identity, can integrate. Without difference there can be no integration. Integration ceases once total assimilation occurs. Gudykunst and Kim (2003) mistakenly use several terms interchangeably including; integration, adaptation, assimilation, evolution, and so forth. When difference is eliminated, meaning also vanishes as meaning and identity are dependent on not being identical with the other—difference. According to Gudykunst and Kim, total assimilation, what they call "the process of adaptation," is the ultimate goal and failure to do so makes the newcomer "inappropriate" in their thinking, feeling, and "functional operation." Gudykunst and Kim (2003) simply state that failure to conform is a failure of the newcomer to be "fit to live in the company of others" (p. 358).
Several theorists have stated that the fourfold models of acculturation are too simplistic to have predictive validity. Some common criticisms of such models include the fact that individuals don't often fall neatly into any of the four categories, and that there is very little evidence for the applied existence of the marginalization acculturation strategy. In addition, the bi-directionality of acculturation means that whenever two groups are engaged in cultural exchange, there are in fact 16 permutations of acculturation strategies possible (e.g. an integrationist individual within an assimilationist host culture). The Interactive Acculturation Model represents one proposed alternative to the typological approach by attempting to explain the acculturation process within a framework of state policies and the dynamic interplay of host community and immigrant acculturation orientations.
- Cross cultural communication
- Cross cultural psychology
- Cultural assimilation
- Cultural identity
- Colonial mentality
- Cultural sensitivity
- Intercultural competence
- Language shift
- Racial segregation
- Social interpretations of race
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Sam, D.L. & Berry, J.W. (2010). Acculturation : When Individuals and Groups of Different Cultural Backgrounds Meet, Perspectives on Psychological Science 5(4). 472
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Rudmin, F.W. (2003) Critical History of the Acculturation Psychology of Assimilation, Separation, Integration, and Marginalization, Review of General Psychology 7(1) 3
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- Examples of traditional definition: Palomar Community College
- Catalog of acculturation theories
- From Paris to Cairo: Resistance of the Unacculturated by Adel Iskandar and Hakem Rustom
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