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Young Yun Kim (1988)…on cross-cultural adaptation

Friday, March 2nd, 2007 @ 12:34 pm
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This is a rather ‘old’ book i discovered but it does give some useful information around concepts I am looking at…my first reaction is that the study and research around cultural adaptation is vast and multidisciplinary that I can easily get ‘lost’ in it (as the author says is the preface: “the field of cross-cultural adaptation can be overwhelming to many researchers due to its vastness, complexity and disjointedness”). However, recording in this blog does help me digest the concepts, ground my understanding and come back to it whenever i want. The full reference of the book is:

K. Y.Y. (1988) Communication and Cross-Cultural Adaptation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd

I am keeping below some useful notes, quotes, definitions from this book:

Some of the questions raised are:

1. What happens when individuals, born and raised in one culture, settle into a new culture?

2. How do we cope with the uncertainties of the new environment?

3. Why are some of us more successful than others in adapting to the changed life conditions?

Learning to live with uncertainty has become one of the central challenges of our time (p.5). The complexity, diversity, and rapid pace of change makes us ‘strangers’ in our own society

“Everyone is an immigrant in time, voyaging into the future” (Morrow, 1985)

“You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh water is forever flowing towards you” (Heraclitus of Ephesus)

The topicof cultural adapation is seen in the literature from two angles:

group-level approaches: anthropology, sociology
individual-level approaches: communication, psychology, sociolinguistics, psychiatry

NEEF FOR INTEGRATION IS SUGGESTED IN THIS BOOK (to inform each other and facilitate the discovery of the principles that describe and explain the phenomena of cross-cultural adaptation)
Most approaches around cultural adaptation view those experiences as problematic and negative. However, (Adler, 1972/1987, culture shock and the cross-cultural learning experience. in L.F. Luce and E.S. Smith (eds) Towars Internationalism. Cambridge: Newbury), viewed culture shock and adjustment in a broader context of intercultural learning and growth, in which cultural scock is regarded as a profound learning experience hat leads to a high degree of self-awareness and personal growth. Culture shock is not “a disease for which adaptation is the cure but is at the very heart of the cross-cultural learning experience, self-understanding and change” (p.29)
Culture shock (when in host culture) v. re-entry shock (the emotional and physiological difficulties an individual may experience on returning home from overseas)

long-term immigrants  v. short-term sojourners

Two personality traits seem facilitative of cultural adaptation:

1. OPENESS:receptivity to external information as well as the internal flow ofinfo within the individual (open-mindedness, tolerance for ambiguity etc)
2. RESILIENCE: imilar to ego-strength or inner-coping capacity, to withstand internal disturbances (or perceived difficulties) under environmental stress and to persist in the efforts to make things work. It reflects the qualities of flexibility (the ability to ‘bend’ and empathise with others while believing in oneself) and of relaxedness (the ability to ‘let go’ of anxiousness and remain integrated)

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