Acculturation and Identity
Cultures are never static. Cultures change and evolve in response to a number of factors and in a bidirectional way they also change individuals even as individuals change cultures as a consequence of globalization, rapid urbanization and industrialization in many countries and settings. Some of the cultural characteristics and inherent traits in individuals are more pronetochangesthanothers.Theimpactofoneculture on another depends upon a number of factors, such as the purpose of such contact degree and the duration of this contact. If one culture invades another for political and economic reasons, the outcome is likely to be different and may lead to deculturation than if the contact is through media at a distance where changes may be slow rather than sudden. Berry, in this chapter, deﬁnes acculturation as a process of cultural and psychological change in cultural groups, families and individuals following intercultural contact. Cultural identity refers to the ways in which individuals establish and maintain connections with, and a sense of belonging to, various groups. Embedded within cultural identity are microidentities of the individual such as gender, religion, sexual orientation etc. some of which can be hidden and others are obvious. The processes and outcomes of these processes are highly variable, with large group and individual diﬀerences. This chapter focuses on describingsomeoftheseprocesses,thestrategiespeople use to deal with them, and the adaptations that result. Three questions are raised: how do individuals and groups seek to acculturate? How well do they succeed? Are there any relationships between how they go about acculturation and their psychological and sociocultural success? Berry notes that the commonest strategy is integration (deﬁned as preferring to maintain one’s cultural heritage while seeking to participate in the life of the larger society), rather than assimilation, separation or marginalization which is likely to be most adaptive.