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Adaptation factors to consider in multicultural teams

Adaptation that accompanies the process of migration to another culture has been studied for more than half a century.

Recent studies of various groups of migrants and immigrants generally showed that some foreigners adapt very well, while others have many difficulties in this process.

The psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence the effects of resettlement are generally well known. The concept of “acculturation” is defined as a change of culture that occurs in the process of constant direct contact between two different cultural groups (R. Redfield, M. Linton, M. Herskovitz).

If initially this phenomenon was understood as a group-level phenomenon, now it is widely recognized as a personal-level phenomenon and is denoted by the concept of psychological acculturation.

What changes can occur as a result of acculturation?

First, physical changes: a new place of residence, increased population density, urbanization, increased atmospheric pollution, etc.

Secondly, biological changes: new dietary features.

Thirdly, political changes are taking place, during which non-dominant groups fall under certain control and lose some of their autonomy.

Fourth, economic changes that lead people away from traditional occupations to new forms of employment.

Fifth, cultural changes are necessarily taking place (which are at the center of our attention): linguistic, religious, educational and technical foundations are changing, including intergroup and interpersonal relations.

Changes in behavior in the set recorded in the scientific literature (Berry J.); they include values, attitudes, abilities and motives.

We can consider a hypothetical family that migrated from Italy to Canada. The father may be inclined towards integration in terms of professional perspectives, wishing to be involved in the economic and political life of the new society. He teaches English and French with the goal, first of all, to gain the benefits that motivated the migration. At the same time, he can be a leader in the Italian-Canadian public association, devoting his free time to interacting with other Canadians — people from Italy.

Quite the contrary, the mother can adhere to exclusively Italian traditions, speak Italian and communicate with the Italian-speaking population, realizing that she is not able to participate in the labor or cultural activities of the host country. It uses a separation strategy, virtually living its personal, social and cultural life in the Italian world.

For further contrast — a teenage daughter is annoyed to hear Italian speaking at home, eat only Italian food that her mother prepares, and spend her free time with her large Italian family. Instead, she prefers assimilation: to speak English, participate in school activities and mostly spend time with her Canadian friends.

And finally, the son does not want to recognize or accept his Italian origin, but at the same time he is rejected by his classmates because he speaks with an Italian accent and often shows no interest in local hobbies such as hockey. He is trapped between his two possible groups, not accepting one of them and not being accepted into the other. As a result, he finds himself in a social and behavioral pit of marginalization, experiencing social and academic difficulties, and eventually in conflict with his parents.

All four adaptation options have been identified and described in the literature on psychological acculturation.

We invite you to read the works of Berry J., Kim W., Power S., Young M., Budzhaki M. and be kinder to each other.

With every good wish,

La Classe team


©2016 by La Classe.