Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Acculturation: State of the Science in Nursing

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Acculturation: State of the Science in Nursing

Article excerpt

Abstract: With the onset of global migration, nurses are faced with dealing with cultures/rom around the world. Having an understanding oftranscultural nursing concepts and translating them to practice will be key to nurses meeting the needs of an ever changing patient population. Acculturation is one example of how transcultural nursing concepts need to be better understood. The purpose of this paper is to describe the state of the science of acculturation in terms of the nursing discipline. It offers a historical review and evolution of acculturation, uses in nursing theory, and clinical implications.

Key Words: Acculturation, Cultural Diversity, Nursing Science

The state of the science with regards to the concept of acculturation is slowly changing. Acculturation has been originally viewed as a unidimensional process, in which those individuals in contact with a host culture take on the characteristics of the new culture (Flannery Reise, & Yu, 2001). The unidimensional model of acculturation has been described as a linear relationship between an individual's original culture and the host culture (Szapocznik, Kurtines, & Fernandez, 1980). This unidirectional model describes acculturation as the shedding off of an old culture and the taking on of a new culture (Choi, 2001; Flannery, et al., 2001). It was believed that individuals only had two options; either they acculturated or they remained in their own culture (Choi, 2001).

However, as more research was done to understand the concept, a growing belief that acculturation was more than a unidirectional process was evolving (Choi, 2001; Flannery, et al., 2001). The focus on understanding immigrant groups was more on understanding cultural pluralism (Szapocznik, et al., 1980) where a more multidimensional model of acculturation was being accepted. Szapocznik (1980) describes this process with adaptation to a host culture as no longer requiring the rejection of the culture of origin.

This more complex view of acculturation evolved after realizing the limitations of the unidimensional model in capturing the multidimensional aspects of acculturation (Choi, 2001). The belief that the acquisition of some homogeneous or standard form of American culture by immigrant groups failed to capture the cultural change experienced at the individual level (Gibson, 2001).

A movement that describes acculturation as an uneven process that reflects intraethnic and intracultural diversity is growing (Déla Cruz, Padilla, & Augustin, 2000). Acculturation is being describes as a bidirectional process more and more (Choi, 2001; Dela Cruz, et al., 2000; Flannery, et al, 2001). The bidirectional process of acculturation involves the simultaneous acquiring, retaining or relinquishing of the characteristics of both the original and the host cultures (Dela Cruz, et al, 2000). Described as an orthogonal model of acculturation, it proposes biculturalism as the basis of the process (Getting & Beauvais, 1990-91).

The bicultural model assumes that acculturating individuals can maintain two different cultural identities simultaneously (Choi, 2001). Szapocznik (1980) describes the bicultural process as learning communication and negotiation skills in cultural contexts that involve separate sets of rules. The emphasis is now on the individual's ability to negotiate between the two cultural worlds rather than losing connection to the original culture (James, 1997).

Current researchers who are studying acculturation are accepting that it is a broad-ranging concept that includes not only changes in behavior, values, attitudes and identity, but social, economic and political transformations as well (Choi, 2001). The process of acculturative change will be shaped in part by where immigrants settle, the ethnic and social class composition of the communities in which they settle and the presence of co-ethnics within those communities (Gibson, 2001).

Rejection of acculturation as a unidimensional process is evident in the literature (Choi, 2001; Dela Cruz et al. …

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