Acculturation was defined by Redfield, Linton, and Herskovits (1936) as a process represented by all the changes that occur as a result of individuals from two distinct cultures coming into continuous first-hand contact with one another, but particularly those changes that result in changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups. If the result of two cultures coming together is that one or both cultures change, then it is said that those changes are the result of acculturation processes. If a culture changes, it has to be that the people of that culture changed in some way as well. This ecological perspective holds that culture is an external variable and an internal variable, with both having influence on behavior. Culture is a multilevel phenomena that operates at various levels simultaneously. Acculturation is an ecological, transactional process that occurs at various levels of human organization and functioning. Acculturation is a stimulus or a causative agent when viewed as a precursor of change at the individual level of functioning. Acculturation is also a process when seen in the context of ongoing learning about our environment. At the macrolevel, acculturation processes, for example, impact language, music, architecture, and values. At the exolevel, acculturation processes influence, for example, institutions and organizations. At the mesolevel it influences, for example, social and group behavior, such as customs, rituals, foods, and folk practices. At the mesolevel it also influences family and social interactions, while the microlevel culture and acculturation processes are believed to influence cognition, emotion, and behavior, as well as perceptions, ideologies, beliefs, values, language use, and other aspects of human behavior and functioning. The degree to which individuals undergoing acculturative processes change their original cultural patterns by means of substitution, addition, integration, syncretism, or whatever other means is the subject of psychological acculturation, a field first developed by anthropologists. (See Marsella, chapter 1, this volume, for an interesting discussion of the historical role given to culture by psychiatry and psychology.)
Was this article helpful?