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Immigrants acculturation in occidental countries

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ESC Rouen

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  1. Introduction
  2. Berry's theory on the processes of acculturation
    1. Adaptation and assimilation
    2. Berry's model and the facts regarding the acculturation group
  3. Current state of the theoretical framework
    1. Updating Berry's theory
    2. Ideologies introduced by Bourhis
  4. Preference for integration
  5. Srategies of acculturation and acculturatif stress
    1. The acculturative stress
    2. The admission rate in psychiatric hospital in the USA and Murphy's observations
    3. The psychosomatic problems in migrants from Germany and Latin America
  6. Costs and advantages for the host society
    1. The formation of ghettos in urban centres
  7. Conclusion
  8. Links
    1. Books
    2. Internet

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. [...]


[...] Integration is defined in the following way: there is a partial maintenance of the cultural integrity of the ethnic group and an increasingly participation of individuals within the new society. In this situation, people preserve their identities and also other cultural characteristics (food, languages, practices . ) while they take part in the economic, political and legal structures of their new country. If people do not seek to establish relationships with the dominant community, and if they want to keep their cultural identity, they choose ?separation?. [...]

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