Unit 8 - Migration and Acculturation
The history of humankind has always been a history of migration; movements of whole populations can be observed throughout human history. But even if such phenomena are not restricted to just the last decades in which buzzwords like globalization have surfaced, societies have to come to terms with the rapidly changing cultural landscape.
A positive take on this would include that people nowadays are much more geographically mobile and come into firsthand contact with other cultures more frequently – in many different forms, ranging from the occasional tourist trip to business trips in foreign countries, and from prolonged work stays abroad to following you job wherever it may take you. On the other hand, with dozens of conflicts, civil wars, and natural disasters, there are many “push” factors leading people to leave their countries in search for a better place to live. At the same time, in many countries one does not have to leave one’s home town anymore to come into contact with individuals from different ethnic backgrounds; chances are overwhelmingly high that you just have to walk out your door.
The study of acculturation and adaptation to other cultures is one of the most active areas in psychology and culture. Psychologists active in this area invariably are interested in one overarching question: What are the psychological consequences to individuals who either voluntarily or (usually) involuntarily switch cultures (see for example the contributions by Nan Sussman on sojourners or Ute Schoenpflug on coping in this unit)? There are also increasingly developmental approaches in trying to understand the processes of acculturation (see the contribution by David Lackland Sam). Last but certainly not least with Floyd Rudmin’s catalogue acculturation taxonomies, an excellent overview is provided in this unit, which will serve as a starting point for many researchers interested in the investigation of acculturation.