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The four forms of acculturation (after Berry )

Acculturation (from Latin ad and cultura: "addition to a culture") refers as a broad umbrella term to all processes of adaptation of people or social groups to a culture with regard to values , customs , customs , language , religion , technology and others. The term is defined differently depending on the subject, there is no binding definition. Essentially, two different definitions are used in the social sciences and, on the other hand, in psychology and pedagogy .

Social sciences

In anthropology and ethnology in particular , the mutual adaptation processes when two different cultures meet are referred to as acculturation . In doing so, foreign intellectual or material cultural assets are taken over. This cultural change can affect both individuals and entire groups.

The ethnologist Richard Thurnwald described acculturation as a form of social learning . He emphasized the change in attitudes and behavior as well as the shaping of personality .

Acculturation arises on the one hand through unregulated, defensive contacts in which the participants decide completely freely whether they expect economic benefits from a change or some other enrichment. It is a conscious examination of the peculiarities of the stranger in comparison with one's own culture and the willingness to change one's own behavior.

The second way to acculturation arises through targeted, offensive measures of the dominant culture (often with the intention of integration into one's own social and economic system or also the complete assimilation of the dominated culture). Such measures are carried out with more or less pressure: either directly through threats of violence, forced upbringing, blackmail, etc. or indirectly through voluntary educational offers, economic incentives, etc. The reservations or resistances of the dominated are naturally greater than in the case of a completely voluntary approach.

The intensity, direction and speed of the acculturation process depend primarily on the motivation of the dominated people: the more active, conscious and committed they set their own development goals, the faster, more self-determined - and therefore usually more beneficial - the change will take place. The more passive, unconscious and indifferent they are to changes, the slower and more externally determined the change.

Political development programs with the aim of a controlled acculturation of local communities often fail both because of the aforementioned self-dynamic of the dominated (who react either too independently or too negatively), as well as because of the incalculable influences of other actors with their own interests (business enterprises, missionaries, other states, supranational organizations, non-governmental organizations, ethnologists, tourists, etc.), which almost always offer people various alternatives.

In the public debate, the acculturation of “tribal peoples” is predominantly associated with negative side effects: cultural uprooting and disintegration of communities with apathy and resignation , decline in values , crime , generational conflicts , alcoholism , drug consumption , discrimination , economic dependence and much more. The greater the cultural differences and the more aggressive the pressure of the dominant culture, the greater the risk for such negative developments.

Ultimately, the duration and intensity of the contact is decisive for the extent of the acculturation. Conquest and colonialism are the most extreme forms.

Forms of acculturation (migration research)

According to John W. Berry , four strategies or forms of acculturation can be derived from migration research , depending on whether the minority group wants / should maintain its own culture or not and whether or not there should be some form of contact between the majority and the minority:

  • Segregation or separation: maintaining one's own culture without contact with the majority. The minority strives for extensive cultural isolation and rejects the dominant culture.
  • Integration : Extensive retention of one's own culture with contact to the majority and mutual influence. Both groups strive for multiculturalism .
  • Assimilation , including inclusion : abandoning one's own culture with contact with the majority. The process leads to merging with the dominant culture.
  • Marginalization , also exclusion : giving up one's own culture without contact with the majority. This form often follows a cultural or ethnic uprooting .

Social psychology

The German-American social psychologist Erik Erikson presented a sophisticated model of acculturation in his book Childhood and Society (New York; German Childhood and Society 1957). Based on his own field research with two American Indian tribes, he developed a step model of psychosocial development that consists of eight phases and covers the entire life span. Key terms of this concept are " I-identity " or - in the case of failed identity formation - " identity diffusion ".

Acculturation and Migration

The psychiatrist Wielant Machleidt considers the phase of acculturation after migration has taken place to be "emotionally extremely stressful and massively underestimated". Migration leads to an identity crisis that is deeper the more foreign the cultural area is. At the same time, the circle of friends, work and sometimes the family are gone. For him, migration after birth (“birth as an individual”) and adolescence (“birth as an adult”) is a further phase of individuation (“cultural adolescence” or “birth as a global citizen”). Your own identity and your own set of values ​​are in question; it has to be explored anew what is “our own” and what is “foreign”.

The personal development that is set in motion can be illustrated as a kind of puberty . Similar to puberty, there are “great feelings and affects” and “omnipotence fantasies” as well as “pain when separating from the psychological and social spaces of childhood or home” and existential fears of failure. This also creates a vulnerability - especially when discrimination , social exclusion and isolation are experienced, chronically increased stress levels can result. The acculturation phase may lead to a broad horizon of experience or to a "cosmopolitanism" in the sense of a multicultural orientation.

Psychology and pedagogy

In psychology and pedagogy, acculturation is understood as a person growing into their own cultural environment through upbringing . Usually the term refers to adolescents in their adolescence phase . Enculturation , on the other hand, describes the unconscious uncontrolled socialization , especially before the phase of adolescence in adolescents, e.g. B. in newborns , toddlers and children .

Education and acculturation

Acculturation from a psychological point of view takes place mainly through upbringing and partly through unplanned learning . Upbringing in the family or in school sometimes serves to familiarize adolescents with the rules and traditions of their own culture, but the type of upbringing is also included under this cultural process. Every child and every young person always has experiences, e.g. B. in groups of the same age who elude the parenting processes planned by adults.

At the end of a successful acculturation, the young person is familiar with their own culture, knows its unwritten laws and is "socially acceptable", i.e. grown up.

Acculturation and alcohol consumption by adolescents

A representative study published in 2016 among 15-year-old adolescents with a family history of migration in Germany showed that those who maintained the values ​​of their culture of origin were less likely to be binge drinking . In contrast, the likelihood of regular experiences with excessive alcohol consumption was higher among the young people, who had a strong tendency to assimilate with German culture. The risk of binge drinking was also lower among adolescents whose parents had a strong bond with the traditions of their country of origin.

See also


  • Roland Spliesgart: “Brazilianization” and acculturation. German Protestants in the Brazilian Empire using the example of the parishes in Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais (1822–1889). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-447-05480-8 ( Studies on the history of Christianity outside Europe (Asia, Africa, Latin America ), Volume 12).
  • Johannes Kopp, Bernhard Schäfers (ed.): Basic concepts of sociology. Textbook. 10th edition, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2010, p. 9ff, ISBN 978-3-531-16985-9 .

Web link

Wiktionary: Acculturation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ulrich Ammon : Acculturation. In: Helmut Glück , Michael Rödel (Hrsg.): Metzler Lexikon Sprache. Metzler Verlag, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-476-02641-5 , p. 21.
  2. a b Heiko Feser: The Huaorani on the way into the new millennium. Ethnological Studies Vol. 35, Institute for Ethnology at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, published by LIT Verlag, Münster, 2000, ISBN 3-8258-5215-6 . Pp. 7-14, 495-496.
  3. Marc Andresen: Studies on the history and methodology of archaeological migration research , Waxmann Verlag, 2004, ISBN 978-3-8309-6064-5 , p. 342 .
  4. Débora Maehler et al. Ulrich Schmidt-Denter: Migration research in Germany. Guidelines and measuring instruments for recording psychological constructs. Springer, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-531-19244-4 . Pp. 18-19.
  5. Fernand Kreff, Eva-Maria Knoll, Andre Gingrich (eds.): Lexicon of Globalization. transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2011, ISBN 978-3-8376-1822-8 , keyword: “Kulturwandel” pp. 220–223.
  6. ^ Institute for Intercultural Didactics eV: Keyword “Explanation of terms - definition of acculturation” in the glossary of
  7. Susanne Donner: Uprooted: The burden of migration. In: November 25, 2015, accessed June 3, 2018 .
  8. ^ A b Wielant Machleidt: Migration, culture and mental health. In: E2 lecture, 23. – 27. April 2007, as part of the 57th Lindau Psychotherapy Weeks. 2007, accessed June 3, 2018 .
  9. Donath, C., Baier, D., Graessel, E. & Hillemacher, T. (2016): Substance consumption in adolescents with and without an immigration background: a representative study - What part of an immigration background is protective against binge drinking ? BMC Public Health 2016, 16: 1157. doi : 10.1186 / s12889-016-3796-0 (free full text)