Acculturation Stress and Its Reflections in Terms of Social Inequality

Acculturation Stress and Its Reflections in Terms of Social Inequality

Kasım Karataş (Karamanoglu Mehmetbey University, Turkey) and Mustafa Baloglu (Hacettepe University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9108-5.ch019
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Within the framework of social justice principles, it is important that the members of the host culture and the immigrant community develop bilateral acceptance and solidarity. Both bodies have responsibilities in preventing discrimination, social inequality, social disparity, and social injustice so that the experiences of acculturation stress do not become detrimental to societal peace and accord. It is an important source of social inequality that the members of the host country have prejudice and discriminate against immigrants on a personal and institutional basis and deprive them of social support. Higher levels of acculturation stress experienced by immigrant children and adolescents due to social inequality might lead to an unhealthy acculturation process. As a result, in the light of social justice and on the basis of universal human rights, a healthy social interaction and integration will be achieved by handling the process of acculturation and reducing the effects of acculturation stress.
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People may have to leave their homeland and migrate to other countries due to compulsory or voluntary reasons and for a period of time or forever. People may migrate involuntarily because of war, natural disasters, basic needs, or the need for security. They also voluntarily move to other countries for economic or educational reasons. Whatever cause and time frame might be, migration is a socio-psychologically complex process at the personal as well as societal levels. In addition, the migration process is far from being over once the migrants are placed to their new country; on the contrary, the process continues to be or becomes even more complicated after the migration.

Migration should not be seen as a simple displacement. People who experience migration also carry their concerns and dreams to their new land. As immigrants struggle to be a part of their new country and culture, their old and new cultural values continually clash with each other. At the same time, they struggle to preserve the essence of their native language, values, and traditions. Similarly, whereas immigrants try to position their social identity and status in the new environment, they also struggle against prejudice, discrimination, and exclusion (Yalcin, 2017). Migrants who are in the process of acculturation are also constantly trying to transform their language, culture, norms, values, and social and symbolic links (Faist, 2003). This psychological and socio-cultural change, transformation and adaptation efforts are described as “acculturation” in the literature.

Guvenc (1972) describes acculturation as the mutual interplay of different societies; as the individual's learning from other societies; or as mutual exchange of learning. The meaning of human existence and cultural values that constitute an important reality of life may erode during the process of acculturation interaction because of the fact that certain adaptation mechanisms come into play when the immigrant's own cultural values and realities are confronted with the values and realities of the members of a different culture. The deeper the cultural differences between the native and immigrant groups, the longer the cultural distance is, which leads to psychosocial and cultural adaptation difficulties, especially for the minority groups. Such emotional and otherwise difficulties are considered as the major sources of acculturation stress.

Acculturation stress is defined as psychological, physical, and social difficulties that accompany the acculturation process. In addition to immigrants’ psychological adjustment problems in the process of acculturation, rejection, marginalization, and dehumanization of the new members of the society by the members of the host culture by discriminating against and by prejudice causes socio-cultural adjustment problems. Moreover, if the immigration policy put in effect by the accepting county is based on assimilating or marginalizing migrants, adaptation becomes more fragile and problems grow deeper. The negative attitudes of the host culture members and the assimilation policies pursued for the immigrants in the state level, in fact, are in contradiction to the universal human rights principles and the principles of social justice.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discrimination: Discrimination is prejudice towards a person or a group of people based on their certain characteristics.

Acculturation: Acculturation is a multi-faceted psychological and sociological adaptation process.

Acculturation Stress: Acculturation stress is cognitive, emotional, and physiological stress reactions exhibited in the face of acculturation experiences and progressions.

Social Support: Social support is the cognitive and emotional help offered to individuals who are under difficult circumstances.

Social Justice: Social justice is the equality situation in which individuals or different groups in the society have the same fundamental rights, protection, opportunities, obligations, and social benefits without being discriminated against for any reason.

Social Inequality: Social inequality is directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly preventing an individual or a group of people in the society from accessing educational, cultural, social, economic, and/or other resources equally and impartially.

Education: Education is a process of acquiring knowledge: skills, and understanding in order to survive and secure a desirable status in the society.

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