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Regular version of the site

Acculturation: Past, Present and Future

On April 29, Professor John Berry (Queens University, Canada and Higher School of Economics, Russia) took part in the «Culture matters» seminar. 

John Berry founded the theory of acculturation and dedicated more than 40 years to its development. He presented on the origins of his theory and its evolution over the recent decades.

In the first part of his presentation Berry discussed two frameworks that he developed for examining acculturation phenomena: the general acculturation framework and the acculturation strategies framework. The general acculturation framework is a model that brings together cultural and psychological factors involved in the process of acculturation. According to this model, the process of acculturation is affected by such cultural factors as the features of the groups prior to their contact, the nature of their intercultural relationships, and the cultural changes following their contact. Psychological factors used in the model are behavioural changes, acculturative stress, and psychological and sociocultural adaptations. Acculturation strategies framework draws attention to the behaviors of the participants of acculturation and aims to predict the long-term consequences of intercultural contact based on the behavioral strategies employed in the acculturation process.

In the second part of the lecture Berry identified nine issues that have been addressed in the empirical research on acculturation: 1) acculturation strategies of ethnocultural groups are multidimensional, and four strategies are usually identified empirically, while for the larger society, acculturation expectations are unidimensional; 2) «cultural contact», «adoption of culture» and «identification with culture» are different things, and variation in phrasing produces different results; 3) in multicultural societies, there is often more than one dominant or attractive group, and the process of acculturation involves more than two groups; 4) there are three forms of measurement for acculturation strategies: four scales, two scales, and vignettes, each with its own benefits and drawbacks; 5) the process of acculturation does not occur in the same way across different domains (friends, food, language, work, etc.); 6) globalization does not lead to the disappearance of cultures – there is evidence that globalization contributes to cultural diversity; 7) the strategy of integration leads to more successful adaptation; 8) the fields needs comparative studies that select one group in a number of settings, or many groups in one setting, comparing them to examine similarities and differences; 9) since acculturation is a process that takes place over time, longitudinal studies are also needed.