Are you really integrated in your new country?


I heard very often: i am fully integrated in this country, i speak the language, i know them good enough. Is that enough, though? What is acculturation and what are the most know ways people acculturate? What can be beneficial and what not? 

Acculturation can be viewed as a multifaceted, dynamic process that involves simultaneously maintaining and embracing features of one's own nation at the same time (Schwartz et al., 2010). It is a term used to describe the changes that arise as a result of ongoing, direct contact between two or more different cultural groups and/or their members. At the individual level, the definition has been expanded to include psychological acculturation (Graves, 1967), which covers changes in a person's psyche as a result of cross-cultural contact as well as changes in regular behavior patterns. It was initially conceptualized as a group phenomenon.

The most-cited acculturation model proposed by Berry (1997) proposes four possible strategies and outcomes of acculturation: assimilation, separation, integration, and marginalization. 

In assimilation, people adopt the practices and outlook of the dominant culture and eschew their culture of origin, often by seeking regular contact with the dominant society and avoiding the maintenance of their original identity. 

Individuals who fall into the separation category are essentially the opposite of those who assimilate; they reject or avoid the new dominant culture in favor of preserving their ethnic identity, often by highly valuing their original cultural practices and avoiding contact with dominant society individuals.

 In integration, people embrace both cultures; they respect and work to preserve their native cultural identities while maintaining regular contact with the dominant culture. As an acculturation approach, integration (adopting both the host and one's own culture) seems to have a more beneficial overall impact than assimilation (adopting the host culture while rejecting one's culture).

 A marginalized person is defined as someone who has no cultural affinity, rejects their culture of origin, and does not accept the norms of the new, dominant culture. Such people experience a de-identified personality as a result of living in two cultures simultaneously while feeling like relative outsiders in each. Marginalization has the worse effect on mental health. For various reasons, migrant groups may decide to reject both the host culture and their own ethnic culture. Migrants may feel discrimination and rejection from both cultures when their entry into the host country is legitimate.

Based on Berry's (2005) two-dimensional acculturation model, immigrants tend to evolve in two ways: first, to maintain their cultural traditions from the home country, and second, the desire to establish local connections and adopt the host culture. While Berry's model (2005) could place the responsibility for integration exclusively on the shoulders of immigrants, Bourhis et al. (1997) explained that the expectations from the host populations could influence the way immigrants integrate, and prejudice plays a significant role in the strategy they will later adopt (Maisonneuve & Testé, 2007). 

Stressors for the mental health of migrants

Multiple studies reported factors that may influence the level of acculturation: intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors included ethnicity, poor physical health, lower levels of host language proficiency, low sense of belonging, low education, extreme age, female gender, and previous war experiences.

The extrinsic factors discovered were: not being married, a lack of social interaction outside the house, pressures associated with unemployment, increased financial troubles, lower income, and a lesser degree of cultural tradition maintenance. 

The effects of discrimination on immigrants are significant but frequently disregarded. The receptivity of the dominant group in welcoming or stigmatizing the non-dominant group may be a powerful predictor of how stressful and difficult the acculturation experience may be for immigrants (de Anda 1984; Berry, 1998).  

Immigration is a life event that poses challenges and opportunities and the adjustment to life in a new country, involving negotiating the language, norms, and relationships, but also control over what used to be usual life. 

Resilience studies have identified a number of protective factors that facilitate positive adaptation outcomes in diverse adverse situations. The meaning of life is one relevant protective factor that has been identified, defined as ''the cognizance of order, coherence, and purpose in one's existence, the pursuit and attainment of worth while goals, and an accompanying sense of fulfillment'' (Recker & Wong, 1988, p. 221).

Knowing all these know, are you really integrated? Follow me for me on this topic and learn how to drive a positive acculturation process.

Refferences: : 

B.Choy, K.Arunachalam, Grupta S, M. Taylor, A.Lee, 2021

Systematic review: Acculturation strategies and their impact on the mental health of migrant populations