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

By Paul Pedersen | Go to book overview

1
Experiencing Culture Shock

Because it is so subjective, the experience of culture shock is hard to convey in rows of numbers or even statistically significant general tendencies of "most" people. This book will focus on the experience of culture shock as described by undergraduate college students visiting different countries around the world. What do people say when they are going through culture shock? What do they feel? What do they think? This book will answer some of those questions in the students' own words as they describe the critical incidents that happened to them in culturally different settings.

Culture shock is the process of initial adjustment to an unfamiliar environment. This psychological construct of culture shock has been used to describe the adjustment process in its emotional, psychological, behavioral, cognitive, and physiological impact on individuals. In a multicultural context, culture shock is a more or less sudden immersion into a nonspecific state of uncertainty where the individuals are not certain what is expected of them or of what they can expect from the persons around them. The term of culture shock was first introduced by Kalvero Oberg ( 1960) to describe the anxiety resulting from not knowing what to do in a new culture. The familiar cues have been removed or have been given a different meaning, resulting in responses ranging from a vague discomfort to profound disorientation. The recent literature recognizes that culture shock applies to any new situation, job, relationship, or perspective requiring a role adjustment and a new identity. In a broader and more general sense, culture-shock applies to any situation where an individual is forced to adjust to an unfamiliar social system where previous learning no longer applies.

There are at least six indicators that a culture-shock adjustment is taking place. First, familiar cues about how the person is supposed to behave are missing, or the familiar cues now have a different meaning. Second, values the person considered good, desirable, beautiful, and valuable are no longer respected by the hosts. Third, the disorientation of culture shock creates an emotional state of anxiety, depression, or hostility, ranging from a mild

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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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