John Berry, a Canadian social psychologist, has developed a theoretical framework about the psychological concept of acculturation. Two main acculturation processes exist in Cross Cultural Psychology: integration and assimilation. Berry argues that not only integration was the mode of acculturation chosen by migrants. But according to Berry, assimilation has not succeeded in the world and if one society tries to apply it, it will cause a strong resistance and a social conflict.
The current migrants, in contrary of those of the beginning of the XXth century, do not come with qualifications which improve the economy and the culture of the host country. The "cultural distance" makes them come with different values and behaviors, and sometimes they come with "not-compatible cultures". In order not to find these migrants in Lumpenproletariat (which can create important social risks), society has to assimilate those who are recognized as assimilable, and has to prevent the immigration of the others.
Is integration more favorable than the other acculturation processes ? Which is Berry's point of view about this subject ? On which empirical data can we rely on ?
I will present a summary of the Berry's theory, including what has been said in "Cross-cultural psychology : Research and applications" . I will analyse the advantages and disadvantages of acculturation processes, given the mental health of migrants and by presenting the case for the host countries
[...] Conclusion This subject is very interesting because of the last events that happened in France at the end of 2005. But what to conclude from the whole of these data? First of all, it seems that the empirical data showing the advantages of integration became definitely more convainquantes during these last years. The confirmations do not come only from Canada, but also from research undertaken in Germany, France or to Japan. The theoretical framework of Berry does not escape of course from some criticisms. [...]
[...] Certain acculturation groups can be accepted more easily and be placed in a higher level of prestige, whereas others ones occupy the lower levels of the society. This can determine the migrants attitude within the host society. One can expect to find a better mental health of migrants in the culturally plural societies than in the monocultural societies which follow an ideology of forced inclusion or assimilation. But the two main variables are the availability of a support network for migrants, and the attitude of the host society against migrants. [...]
[...] In the assimilationist societies, the easiest mode of acculturation for migrants may be to adopt assimilation. Individuals are restricted in their choices. In fact, stress could be the result of the conflict between the personal preferences and the national policies (Berry). What is important would be the correspondence between the migrant's choices and those of the host society. There would be separation, segregation or marginalisation when this does not take place. Some migrants, who refuse support from their ethnic community and from the host society, believe in a meritocratic system, and they think they will only manage to achieve their goals by themself. [...]
[...] According to Bourhis, these policies have an impact in determining the choices of acculturation strategies. By the intercultural contact, the members of the host society influence the acculturation strategies of migrants, who, reciprocally, can also influence the orientations of the majority group. The author takes again the assumption that it is the correspondence between the attitudes of the host society and those of the migrants who determines, in a certain way, interaction conflicts. All the other combinaisions are seen as problem or as a conflict. [...]
[...] In a study at the national level with 3325 people (Berry and Kalin), it appears clearly that attitudes towards the European immigrants group (Italian, German, Ukrainian, Portuguese) and Chinese one is generally favorable, but it's not the case for the other minorities : Indo-Pakistani, Maghrebian, other African people. Another problem which is still unsolved is the formation of ghettos in urban centres. The question is quite complex : on one hand these areas can protect and concentrate people who are sharing the same culture, values and way of life by the development of specific associations. [...]
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