Understanding Cultural Diversification Through Social Network Analysis

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Understanding Cultural Diversification Through Social Network Analysis Archit Tripathi
Vassar College
Psychology 301 A, Professor Tran

The process of migrating from one cultural locale to another entails various challenges that sometimes seem to be overlooked by individuals brought up in the dominant culture. In trying to navigate what could be a potentially vastly different cultural framework, two of the principal challenges a migrating individual faces are the establishment of new social networks, and the acquisition of sufficient knowledge of the new culture to aid in the incorporation of out-group members (i.e. individuals from different cultural backgrounds) into new, multicultural social networks.

According to Lafromboise, Coleman & Gerton (1993), there are several models through which bicultural identities are shaped. The first of these is the assimilation model, in which the individual 'sheds' his or her old culture in various stages; the individual then takes on all of the aspects of the new culture. The individual will exhibit a simultaneous phasing out and phasing in of the two cultures at play (Lafromboise, Coleman & Gerton, 1993). However, an individual attempting to assimilate into a new culture will typically feel a sense of isolation and alienation from the new culture until they feel completely accepted within the secondary culture (Johnston, 1976).

The second model is acculturation, which differs from assimilation in its assumption that the acculturated individual will, at best, be seen as entirely competent within a second culture. However, the individual will probably never be identified as a member of the second culture. Identification as a member of the second culture is the key difference between the assimilation model and the acculturation model—the first seeks identification as a member of the secondary culture, while the latter seems to deny its possibility (Lafromboise, Coleman & Gerton, 1993). As with assimilation, acculturation also brings with it a sense of alienation, which most likely occurs until the individual is recognized as entirely competent within the second culture.

The third model, alternation, differs from the first two models because it allows the individual to know and participate in both the primary and secondary cultures. It is considered entirely possible and even desirable for people to participate in two cultures at the same time, and draw upon their respective resources depending on what the given situation requires (Ogbu & Matute-Bianchi, 1986). This model of integration seems to be beneficial, as individuals who can alternate and manage bicultural identity tend to be less susceptible to the negative psychological effects of being from a minority culture (Garcia, 1983; McClure, 1977; Rashid, 1984). It is important to understand the two fundamental differences between the alternation and the assimilation and acculturation models. First, the alternation model does not imply a linear model of the two cultures, but rather a bidirectional one. Second, it imposes no hierarchies between the two cultures (Lafromboise, Coleman & Gerton, 1993). These two fundamental differences seem to imply that the alternation model will elicit a highly beneficial integration and balance between the primary and secondary cultures.

The fourth model is the multicultural model, which puts forth the idea that individuals can have distinct cultural identities while still working cooperatively with individuals of different cultures in order to fulfill common goals. Finally, the fusion model ascribes to the view that through by sharing spaces, the various cultures will all melt into one whole (Lafromboise, Coleman & Gerton, 1993).

Unfortunately, these models are not quantifiable in and of themselves, though Benet-Martinez & Haritatos (2005) do provide a useful quantitative assessment with their measure of Bicultural Identity Integration (BII). High BIIs indicate that the...
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