Migration today has led to many intercultural interactions. People have moved from one area to another in search for jobs and better living. As a result, they have adopted other habits from foreign cultural groups. This has affected many ethnic groups worldwide. In some instances, this interaction has made some groups lose their ethnic significance in the cultural world today. In other instances, people have ended up in difficult circumstances that make them feel left out within the new set up.
In this context, this paper will discuss acculturation. The discussion will base on the reason why acculturation occurs in the society today. Are there any difficulties, which people face while undergoing through acculturation, and is acculturation irreversible. The conclusion will help readers to understand the essence and impact of acculturation in the society today.
Acculturation is a process that cultural groups undergo. It involves the exchange of cultural features of the people that interact. The groups of people that move into a new region adopt the cultural trends of the new associates. They often have to bear the consequences of parting with their family members, friends, jobs, and adapt to the new environment. In the end, the immigrants lose their cultural features as they get to liken themselves with the surrounding. In all these changes, they still remain holding their cultural identity. However, acculturation does not occur to immigrants only, but involves any individual that migrates to a new place different from their place of origin.
History of acculturation
Acculturation has come to happen due to advances in transport, communication, and technology. These factors have lead to the increase in interaction between people from different parts of the world. Plato is one of the people recognized in the history of acculturation. He noticed the trend of people imitating the habits of strangers whom they came across. Plato was an inhabitant of Greece who advocated for the maintenance of the Greek culture. Therefore, Plato was utterly against acculturation. He claimed that the Laws of Moses and the Babylonian laws were made so as to maintain cultural standards.
The groups that undergo acculturation may both be affected by imitating each other, or either of them, but they remain distinct as they were before acculturation. There are two main categories of acculturation, group acculturation and individual acculturation.
Group acculturation refers to the satiation where a group of people e.g. immigrants imitate the cultural habit of another cultural group. Either of the groups could copy the cultural traits of another into their own. These traits include language, music styles, food types, dances, and clothing. By so doing they end up with a different culture from the original culture, they have but still maintain their identity. Such instances happen when the hosting group is more superior to the immigrants e.g. in technology. Such that one group copy’s the technological level of the other to raise their own. A good example that illustrates group acculturation is the acculturation between Indians and Americans. The Indians adapted the cultural habits of the Americans. They changed their identity and called themselves indo-Americans.
Individual acculturation occurs in a person. Individual acculturation often occurs on the first-generation immigrants. These are the children of those people who have migrated to a new place. Their children get affected and in turn begin to adapt the ways, and cultural habits of the new people. However, the effect of acculturation on an individual depends on the interest of an individual to the hosting culture. However, there are cases where acculturation has caused the disappearance of various cultures. These include people who have imitated the new cultures and left their own original cultures e.g. the first nations of Canada, and Native Americans.
Process of acculturation
The process of assimilation involves the participation of the individual exposed to the new hosting culture. There are several steps that involve the acculturation.
- Adaptation: the process of adaptation takes place when the new group of people migrates to the new hosts. It happens when the immigrants are beginning to know the cultural habits of the hosting culture.
- Assimilation: assimilation refers to the process of changing from one’s original culture to adapting the new hosting culture. According to Gudykunst the assimilation process involves the changing of languages by the immigrant in order to interact with the hosts. If the immigrants do not manage to assimilate the new language, then the two cultures do not get well acculturated.
- Integration: integration is the state whereby the people acculturating maintain their original culture as they adapt to the new culture.
- Separation: the process of separation catches up with the individuals that have no intention of adapting to the hosting culture. Instead, they maintain their old cultural traits in the new territory.
- Marginalization: this is the process whereby the immigrants wear off their old culture as they anticipate the new culture.
Acculturative Stress refers to the difficulties and challenges that people encounter while undergoing acculturation. Acculturation stress does not affect an individual, but it also affects a cultural group. These challenges have rendered many immigrants secluded. Hence, they cannot fit in the new culture that they intend to adapt. Research has proved that acculturative stress is significant on the mental and emotional health of immigrant. This has resulted in psychological problems amongst the immigrants.
Acculturative Stress varies from one group to another depending on the closeness that is between the two groups that are intermingling. The stress is mainly due to the negative reception of the group that is hosting the immigrants. The difficulties the come as a result of acculturation include loneliness, self identity, and language barriers.
- Language barrier: once a group of people has moved to a new set up, come to realize that they are living amongst a people whom they do not speak the same language. While they may be speaking their original language, the people of the new place will also be having their own language. As a result, language barrier becomes a source of challenge to this minority group. They are forced to learn the new language or be left out. The worst of this scenario is amongst school going children. They often fail to communicate to the teachers and their fellow students in school.
- Loneliness: most immigrants who moved into new areas are surrounded by feeling of loneliness. Such a group of people often will have left their family members in their areas of origin. As a result, they find themselves in a situation of being alone and lack social support. This has renders most immigrants unhappy. They miss their own people back in their home land. The teenager sin such a circumstance, will found in a state whereby they often refer to the people back in their homeland.
- Loss of social status and identity: people who migrate from their original homes are often faced with challenges of loss of identity. This happens to both adults and young people amongst the immigrants. For individuals who have had better chances in their original homes find themselves despised in the new surroundings. Such a people could have had better position in their social status. Some of them were prominent people with careers that were recognized in their homes. However, once they try to gain the same positions in the new places they are not recognized. In the end, they find themselves in the same social circles with those who had no status.
Such effects of acculturation have caused an ineffective relationship between immigrants and the hosting culture. These people may not to relate closely because of the differences between them. In some cases, individuals have gotten depressed over the effect of acculturation. Such negative traits include drinking alcohol and drug addiction. The same attitudes were noticed in the adaptation of eating habits. The young people have adapted to eating habits that are not healthy especially amongst the native-American women ad African-American women.
In conclusion, acculturation is a way through which people interact. It involves the interaction between cultural groups whereby a one group (the minor one) adapts the cultural habits of the other group. In so doing, the people who adapt the habits and trends of the hosting culture often find difficulties. During acculturation, the group that is subjected to change may be disregarded and left out. As a result, the people involved in this group get acculturative stress. In such a mood, they lose their cultural identity and respects.