The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents around the World

By Paul Pedersen | Go to book overview

Preface

Culture shock is a profoundly personal experience. It does not affect all people in the same way or even the same person in the same way when it reoccurs. The critical incidents reported in the following chapters will describe what students on a voyage around the world experienced as they changed in response to the different countries and cultures they encountered. Not all of the students were aware of going through culture shock, but they were very much aware of cultural differences and, in some cases, of cultural similarities as well.

Culture shock happens inside each individual who encounters unfamiliar events and unexpected circumstances. This book will define culture shock as an internalized construct or perspective developed in reaction or response to the new or unfamiliar situation. As the situation changes in unexpected directions, the individual needs to construct new perspectives on self, others, and the environment that "fit" with the new situation. Because culture shock is such a subjective response to unfamiliar situations, it was necessary to provide many different examples for each stage of culture shock across each country setting. The variety of examples demonstrates that culture shock: (1) is a process and not a single event, (2) may take place at many different levels simultaneously as the individual interacts with a complex environment, (3) becomes stronger or weaker as the individual learns to cope or fails to cope, (4) teaches the individual new coping strategies which contribute to future success, and (5) applies to any radical change presenting unfamiliar or unexpected circumstances. Situations of culture shock abroad provide metaphors for better understanding culture shock related to physical health, environmental disaster, economic failure, psychological crises, or any radical change in lifestyle.

The first chapter will introduce the published literature about culture shock indicating what we know and what we do not know about that experience. There is a great deal of disagreement about culture shock and how it presents itself. Some of the publications even discount the construct "culture shock" as a useful concept. The critical incidents were organized according to the stages

-vii-

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The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents around the World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Experiencing Culture Shock 1
  • Conclusion 11
  • 2 - Critical Incidents Around the World 14
  • 3 - The Honeymoon Stage 26
  • Introduction 26
  • Conclusion 77
  • 4 - The Disintegration Stage 79
  • Introduction 79
  • Conclusion 132
  • 5 - The Reintegration Stage 134
  • Introduction 134
  • Conclusion 199
  • 6 - The Autonomy Stage 201
  • Introduction 201
  • Conclusion 243
  • 7 - The Interdependence Stage 245
  • Introduction 245
  • Conclusion 263
  • References 271
  • Index 277
  • About the Author 283
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