What are acculturation issues?

Acculturation is how individuals, families or cultural groups adapt their social and cultural values, ideas, beliefs and behavioural patterns from their original culture to those of a new culture. Acculturation is the term used to describe the cultural and psychological changes due to continuous first-hand contact between two cultures. Individual psychological acculturation and behavioural responses to acculturation are referred to as psychological acculturation. Stress and feeling the need to belong as unmet can cause psychological issues like anxiety, despair, insecurity, and behavioural issues like aggression and delinquency throughout the acculturation process. During the acculturation process, anything can be exchanged between cultures. For example, style of dress and grooming, certain phrases of language, food recipes can incorporate the other cultures method of making and/or include specific ingredients, etc.

Types of acculturation issues

Acculturation issues may develop when you immigrate or relocate to an unfamiliar environment. This can have an emotional and psychological impact as you navigate new cultures and practices. A new school or new job in a foreign province or country can trigger stress and anxiety. The acculturative stress theory is one popular explanation for the destructive health behaviours and effects of the acculturation process. Acculturative stress is the tension that immigrants feel as a result of their acculturation experiences. The difficulties of learning a new language, preserving one's native tongue, balancing divergent cultural norms, and brokering between native and host variances in acceptable social behaviours are only a few examples of stressors. Acculturative stress can manifest in various ways, including but not limited to: anxiety, depression, substance misuse, and various mental and physical maladaptation's.

Fourfold model of acculturation

The fourfold model is a bidimensional conception model that categorises acculturation accordingly (Ozer, 2017). The first component covers an individual's minority or native culture retention or rejection, while the second dimension concerns the adoption or rejection of the majority group or host culture. This model has four strategies concerning acculturation which include:

  • Assimilation: When people choose to follow the cultural norms of a dominant or host culture over their own.
  • Separation: When people reject the dominant or host culture in favour of preserving their own culture.
  • Integration: When someone may embrace the dominant or host culture's cultural norms while keeping their own culture.
  • Marginalisation: When people reject both their home culture and the more dominant host culture.

These four ways of discarding or maintaining the cultural streams have been designated acculturation strategies that consist of behaviour and attitude.

How are acculturation issues treated?

Colleen Ward, who is an expert on the concept of acculturation, has highlighted three adaptation approaches, namely: stress and coping, cultural learning, and social identification. This has been referred to as the ABC’s of the acculturation process because the feelings (affective), actions (behavioural) and knowledge (cognitive) aspects of the cultural adaptation process has been incorporated. Treatment in the form of individual and/or group therapy would ideally use models such as the one outlined above to form the basis of intervention. Psychotherapeutic approaches such as psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), supportive therapy, and person-centred therapy can be employed for the treatment of acculturation issues.

1Where does acculturation come from?
The early interest in acculturation stemmed from a fear of the consequences of European dominance over colonial and indigenous peoples. Later, it concentrated on how immigrants (both voluntary and involuntary) changed after arriving in receiving societies and the challenges associated with settling in.
2When did acculturation begin?
The term "acculturation" was coined by a group of anthropologists from the Social Sciences Research Council in 1936. It became a hot topic after the post-World War II refugee and immigrant relocation crisis.
3Why does acculturation happen?
Acculturation occurs when individuals from various cultures come into constant first-hand contact, resulting in modifications in either or both groups' original cultural patterns.