Culture Conflict

The notion of conflict is central to survival, adaptation, adjustment, and mental health. The element of conflict is produced within an individual's mind when the acceptance of cultural patterns from another culture are at variance with pre-existing ones. The degree to which this conflict exists represents a stressor to the individual, The successful resolution of this conflict represents a healthy mental adjustment. Cultural conflicts are stress inducing and thus serve as predisposing factors to many forms of psychological and physical illnesses.

It is not easy to change behavior that is firmly adhered to and strengthened gradually over many years of socialization and enculturation. It is perhaps easier to learn something new than to change an entrenched behavior pattern. As previously mentioned, incongruent values cannot be so easily juggled as other cultural elements; neither can commitments to identity, religious ideologies, principles, and worldviews be so easily modified, reinterpreted, or compromised. In some cases, the default may be to lose commitment to both, as hypothesized by Stonequist (1937) in his book, The Marginal Man.

A particular mode of acculturation has been theorized as having increased risk for psychic conflict relative to other modes of acculturation. This type or mode occurs in multicultural contexts, where two or more cultures come into continuous interactive contact with one another. This mode of acculturation is referred to as marginalized (Berry & Kim, 1988; Stonequist, 1937). Marginalized individuals do not have a strong affiliation, affirmation, or identification with either of the two main cultures they contact. They are believed to be more susceptible to psychological and adjustment disorders than persons who have adopted traditional, assimilated, integrated, or separation modes of adjustment. The term marginal is applied across a wide range of domains, such as economic status, health status, employment status, social status, and others. Like many biculturals, marginalized individuals live between two cultures; however, in terms of acculturation, marginalized refers specifically to a form of psychological adjustment in which the person does not identify with either culture. High integrated biculturals have a strong sense of identity with both cultures, in contrast to the acculturative marginalized, who don't identify with either.

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