Cultural criticism and the theory of acculturation. Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale" and Michael Ondaatje’s "The English Patient"

Masterarbeit, 2021

107 Seiten


Table of Contents


Chapter One:
John Berry’s Theory of Acculturation: Definitions and Strategies

Chapter Two:
Separation and Marginalization in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient

Chapter Three:
Assimilation vs. Integration in The Handmaid’s Tale and The English Patient ...




This study pays more attention to John Berry’s Theory of Acculturation whose main concepts are separation, marginalization, assimilation, and integration. It examines how the theory of Acculturation can be applied to the two Canadian novels under study: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and Michael Ondaatje’s The English patient (1992). In fact, this topic is considered new, oriental, and rich of different social contexts; it also tackles cultural diversity among countries and people as well.

This study is divided into three chapters with an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction includes the following: objective of study, questions of study, methodology of study, literature review, and chapterizations.

Chapter one is a theoretical background of Berry’s theory of Acculturation: Definitions and Strategies. Chapter two is entitled “Separation and Marginalization in The Handmaid’s Tale and The English Patient;” it stresses the terms of separation and marginalization in the two novels; and how the two novels are good examples of these cultural terms. Chapter three’s title is “Assimilation vs. Integration in The Handmaid’s Tale and The English Patient;” it highlights the meanings of assimilation and integration and how they are different; finally, it applies these two strategies to The Handmaid’s Tale and The English Patient. The conclusion is mainly concerned with the main findings.

This study aims at examining the following points: defining the Theory of Acculturation, highlighting strategies of John Berry’s Theory: Separation, Marginalization, Assimilation and Integration, and applying the mentioned strategies to the two Canadian novels: The Handmaid’s Tale and The English Patient.

The questions of that study are: What is the Theory of Acculturation?; what are the four strategies of this theory and how they are developed?; why is today’s world in dire need of cultural diversity?; and how are these four strategies applied to the two novels?

I have chosen that topic for many reasons; firstly, this topic has not been studied before, so it enriches the library; secondly, the issue of cultural diversity represents the contemporary ideology; thirdly, it tries to stress why immigrants should embrace integration, not assimilation for not erasing out their true identities; finally, racism has already come back into the fore, so this study warns the host countries for not segregating and marginalizing the immigrants.

The research significance lies in the following points; first, these two literary works reflect the continuous conflict between the East and the West, the importance of the East, and their insistence to fight back for existence; second, the two protagonists have the ability to resist in order to restore their original identities; third, the endings of the two novels are optimistic; both of them have already rejected assimilation and embraced integration; fourth, both men and women are oppressed, marginalized, separated, sidelined and humiliated; finally, the Canadian novels are of two different cultural backgrounds, so they represent both the West and the East.

This study is both theoretical and practical; it is a cross- sectional study. It is divided into three chapters. Chapter one is entitled “John Berry’s Theory of Acculturation: Definitions and Strategies.” According to John Berry (2006), acculturation is a process of cultural and psychological change that results from the continuing contact between people of different cultural backgrounds. Following initial contact, most of these contact situations result in the development of societies that have more than one cultural, linguistic or religious entity living in them (p. 27). In other words, acculturation is considered the outcome of people’s interaction with more than one culture; whether their original heritage and culture or the culture of the host countries. In fact, there are many reasons that work simultaneously and cause this cultural change such as immigration, sometimes trade, communication between people from different cultures and other political issues that force people to leave their original counties, where they are born and accommodate with other culture, values, language and behavioral changes as well. That is why acculturation research generally focuses on immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, who are assumed to be permanently settled in their new home-land.

Acculturation is also defined as “the process of cultural change that occurs when individuals from different cultural backgrounds come into prolonged, continuous, first-hand contact with each other” (Redfield, Linton, & Herskovits, 1936, p. 146).

According to Berry (1994, 1997), there are maintenance of original cultural identity and maintenance of relations with other groups; his theory refers to integration, separation, assimilation and marginalization. Berry’s Acculturation’s four strategies will be discussed in detail with reference to the two Canadian novels along the coming chapters: The Handmaid’s Tale and The English Patient.

Chapter Two is entitled “Separation and Marginalization in The Handmaid’s Tale & The English Patient. The Handmaid’s Tale highlights separation in different situations reflecting how the heroine (Offred) is separated from her family and how she holds different behavioral modes and values. Separation causes many problems to the immigrants and stresses their feeling of isolation. As a result of such oppression and humiliation that Offred has suffered in the city of Gilead, she has insisted on not interacting with the culture and values of the colonizer.

In The Handmaid's Tale, Offred is portrayed as a colonized woman. She as well as Canada has to resist in order to survive: Canada has resisted the British, French, and cultural American imperialism, so she has to resist both patriarchal and societal traditions (Ashraf Zidan, 2013, p. 18). Besides, Offred’s feelings of oppression and being captured make her prefer separation from having sex with the colonizer, so this increases her suffering, her sense of loss, and loneliness (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985, p. 113).

In The English Patient, Kirpal Singh, unlike Offered, decides to separate from his own family and to join the British army in order to save his brother’s life and fulfill his ambition: he has to live alone in a tent rather than live in the same villa with fake and deceptive people (The English Patient, 1992, p, 213). In The English patient, Hana also prefers to stay alone in the villa to take care of the English patient after losing all her family in the war. She seeks for compensation and a cure for her sense of guilt towards the death of her father and her daughter as well: “She felt like Crusoe finding a drowned book dried itself on the shore” (The English Patient, 1992, p.13). One important aspect in the portrayal of Kirpal Singh is the continued references to his habits and practices perceived by the other characters as being ‘Indian’ and hence for them a foreigner. This, of course, indicates how Kip appreciates his Indian traditions and habits over the English culture (The English Patient, 1992, P.93).

On the other hand, marginalization occurs when people do not maintain their culture identity and not seeking to interaction with people from other cultures. Margaret Atwood, in most of her works, asserts that women are oppressed and controlled by some political, religious and social norms, which are highly discussed in The Handmaid’s Tale and highlight the theme of marginalization as well. Offred’s inner sense of weakness and helplessness that resembles in disregarding her true name enriches the strategy of marginalization and focuses on her psychological case as a marginalized immigrant (The Handmaid’s Tale, p.108).

There are also many aspects of marginalization and racism in Ondaatje’s The English patient. For example, his reactions on hearing the news of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are really unexpected, in which he condemns the European civilization and the deception of the west as whole. Kip exhibits the bad impacts of colonization on nations and people of another race and color, criticizing the colonial and imperial agenda or scheme that is considered the source of pride and superiority of the European nations. Here, Kirpal, for the second time, repeats his brother’s words about the Europeans and pointless of being useful for them, because they are misleading (The English Patient, 1992, p.303).

Chapter Three is entitled “Assimilation vs. Integration in The Handmaid’s Tale & The English Patient.” Assimilation can be easily seen when immigrants reject their true origins, but they do regular interaction with the host cultures. According to Park and Burgess (1921), assimilation refers to individuals who are not keen on maintaining their home culture and always prefer other cultures. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred tries to assimilate and feels satisfaction with her position in the commander’s palace. She also goes shopping with another handmaid in order to come over her loneliness and this helps her to understand what is going around her (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985, P.18). This is one of the tricks of a dystopian society, in which the colonizer tries to convince the victim that she is on the right way and in a blessing area in order to control her thinking and hinder her ability to resist.

Offred takes her first steps of assimilation through her relationship with the commander (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985, P.146). This shows how women are oppressed and disregarded; they are just machines to have sex and breed babies. In this context, women are not only oppressed by men, but they the authority and repression practiced upon them by the ruling class as well (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985, P.146). Reconstruction is a central theme for helping Offred to assimilate and overcome her feminism repression and humiliation as well. Thus, she begins to utilize her relationship with the commander: he asks her to play games with him, kiss him, and she asks him to bring her some magazines.

As for The English Patient, assimilation is clearly shown when Kirpal Singh is assimilated as soon as he acquires the language as well as social, economic and political rituals of the English society. He admires the West for its superiority; he tries to share the same emotions, traditions, and loyalties. He also does his best to accommodate with people in England in order to save his social and economic position after becoming a sapper in the English army and this was against his family’s desire. Then he has friendship relationships with (Lord Suffolk & Hardy) and later a lover (Hana) ( Qtd in Zidan , 2014, P.38).

On the contrary, integration refers to immigrants who are interested in keeping, maintaining and expressing their heritage culture and at the same time communicating with other cultures of the host society. That is why integration has more positive psychological impacts on people, so as not to feel isolated and marginalized in foreign societies. Thus, this strategy provides people with opportunities to expand their horizons and to gain more resources from more than one culture.

Consequently, the majority of immigrants are torn between reconciliation with their own original identities or the adoption of the identity of the host country: This is called multiculturalism. They make various efforts, either legally or illegally, to change their economic, social and cultural status. In other words, integration occurs when people maintain their original culture identity while also interacting with people from other cultures. This is clearly shown when Kip adopts the English traditions and culture and at the same time maintains his Eastern traditions and customs. Thus, kip is considered a mediator between the East and the West. His “Turban” is a great evident that he really appreciates his Eastern features despite his admiration of the Western culture. Therefore, Kip’s turban conveys his Indianness (The English Patient, 1992, p. 67-68).

Another example of Kip’s integration is his love affair with Hana that has not been completed; the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki alters his belief in the awareness of the West and distorts the image of the Western civilization in his mind. Consequently, he begins to change his opinion commenting on these present events from a different perspective: he cuts off all ties with his beloved Hana, goes home (India) and fulfills his parent’s wish (The English Patient, 1992, p. 305). Here, Kip tries to restore his lost identity and self confidence destroyed by the breaking out of the West’s promise. He not only goes back to his own country and becomes a dentist, but also he does his best so as not to remember the Canadian nurse and sets up a new family with his Indian beloved.

On the other hand, Offred tries to adopt the rules of the commander’s house and responds to their rituals although she does not have any inclinations to have sex or to love or even to make relationships with the other handmaids. Yet, she prefers to accommodate with the commander’s desires at the expense of palace’s laws in order to keep herself in peace. Finally, she revolts and rebels for the sake of survival and maintaining her feminine identity (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985, P.274). Finally, women revolt against oppression and injustice in order to preserve their positions as appreciated human beings; she succeeds in resistance, survival, and keeping her identity from suppression and oppression by recording her story on thirty tapes.

Chapter One

John Berry’s Theory of Acculturation: Definitions and Strategies

This chapter is mainly concerned with highlighting the meaning of John Berry’s theory of acculturation and its strategies; it is a comprehensive study of immigrants who have been forced/voluntarily chosen to leave their home lands. Along this challenging journey, different types of peoples’ characters have to appear, so the theory of acculturation and its strategies endeavor to interpret the development of each character in the selected Canadian novels under study: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale & Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. Therefore, acculturation and its strategies, in particular, gain a practical and theoretical significance.

The Theory of Acculturation: Definitions and Strategies

According to Meriam Webster’s dictionary, acculturation means “Cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture.” In other words, it is the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy. The dictionary also gives the main differences between assimilation, acculturation and amalgamation as follows:

Acculturation is one of several forms of culture contact, and has a couple of closely related terms, including assimilation and amalgamation. Although all three of these words refer to changes due to contact between different cultures, there are notable differences between them. Acculturation is often tied to political conquest or expansion, and is applied to the process of change in beliefs or traditional practices that occurs when the cultural system of one group displaces that of another. Assimilation refers to the process through which individuals and groups of differing heritages acquire the basic habits, attitudes, and mode of life of an embracing culture. Amalgamation refers to a blending of cultures, rather than one group eliminating another (acculturation) or one group mixing itself into another (assimilation). (Online)

According to John Berry (1990), acculturation is just one type of cultural changes which happen because of interaction with other cultures. There are internal forces and external forces such as: communication, diffusion from other cultures, and creativity from within the cultural group, typically operate simultaneously (pp. 201–34). As for Redfield, Linton and Herskovits (1936), it includes the processes resulting in the continuous direct contact between groups of people of diverse cultures and with subsequent change in the original cultural habits of one or the two groups (pp.149-150).

Berry (1974, 1980) argues that when people are involved in intercultural interaction, two issues challenge people from non-dominant ethno-cultural groups: both of the importance of the preservation of one's original cultural heritage and the intercultural communication, including representatives of the dominant culture. In order to consider these two problems concurrently, Berry (1989) suggests that four strategies for acculturation are needed: assimilation, incorporation, separation and marginalization. The four approaches are based on the premise of the right for immigrants to choose their own way of cultivating while they may be required to choose a specific strategy in cases of greater cultural differences rather than having the option of selecting an acculturation strategy (Berry, p.46).

According to MAGibson (2001), acculturation is the process of change in culture that takes place when people from different cultures come together. Thus, acculturation is almost part of the immigration process (PP.19-23). There are certain cultural differences between individuals such as: languages, clothes and customs which are easy to see, but the way communities organize themselves, the way they connect with their world, and also the way they perceive moral issues are not easily observed. The UNESCO’s universal declaration of cultural diversity provides that in a specific region or in the world, the diversity of human societies or cultures is cultural diversity (2001).

Furthermore, acculturation is an association between two or more cultural groups and their members; it is a twofold psychological and cultural process that includes changes in social and economic structures and cultural activities at the group level. For example, this often includes learning the language of one another, exchanging food tastes with one another and adopting the traditional types of clothing and social interactions of each party. These adaptations sometimes occur rather easily (through processes of culture and cultural learning, but during intercultural interaction they can also create cultural conflict and accultural stress. Therefore, Berry (1992) highlights the idea that acculturation process also involves many changes in the individual's values, attitudes, skills and behaviors (P.187).

Consequently, the variation they are used with is a key feature of all acculturation phase: the manner in which people seek to acculturate themselves (referred to as acculturation strategies) and the extent to which they achieve satisfactory adaptations are large group and individual differences. There are differences within the family in addition to the cultural group and variety. Acculturation also happens at a different rate among family members and with different goals, contributing sometimes to an increase in conflict tension and to more challenging adaptations.

In another context, acculturation was described as a change in culture initiated by the combination of two or more autonomous cultural systems. A cultural change may be the result of direct cultural transmission; it may originate from non-cultural factors such as: ecological or demographic change caused by an impinging society; it may be delayed or may be reactive changes to conventional ways of living, as with domestic adaptations, following the adoption of foreign features or patterns (Social Science Research Council, 1954, p. 974).

The theory of acculturation is applied to different ways of living with the two societies that are in touch with acculturating people. Berry proposed a two-dimensional structure in the initial framework of acculturation attitudes. The two dimensions were: how much acculturation people prefer to preserve the culture and identity of their own heritage and to what extent people want to have contacts with people outside their own community and participate. Once these two dimensions have been crossed, it is possible to distinguish between four different ways of acculturating: assimilation, incorporation, separation.

The first purpose of this study is to analyze the resulting differences in the classification of persons in the four forms of acculturation using other methods of operationalizing these two dimensions. The second purpose is to see if these variations in the classification of acculturation lead to different ties with the psychological well-being of immigrants. This is shown through the development of the two Canadian novels under study: Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Ondaatje’s The English Patient; it is concerned with the gradual psychological change in the attitudes of each character and their abilities to adapt with new host countries culture or resist and fight.

There are also variations in how they measure their approaches to the acculturation of immigrant youth's psychological well-being. Therefore, these developments are compounded when the environment in which immigrant youth are living is taken into account. The general conclusion is that the approaches and places of acculturation are assessed and that these differences influence the degree of immigrant youth's psychological adaptation.

Berry (1970, 1974, and 1980) has established a system in which the preferences for different acculturation approaches are to be tested. He, in his theory of acculturation, proposes a two-dimensional framework of acculturation attitudes based on two distinct issues: (a) how much people want to retain (or change) their cultural heritage and identity, and (b) to what degree people want interaction with and involvement in the broader society. He suggests the following: when people say they prefer not to keep their own heritage and participate in the wider society, the strategy of assimilation is defined. In comparison, the separation approach is characterized when individuals have the desire to preserve their cultural heritage and not to participate in the larger society. When both a desire to preserve our own culture of heritage and to take part in the wider society is created, integration strategy becomes evident. When both of them have no intention of maintaining their cultural heritage or of having relationships with a broader community, then marginalization is established.

Acculturation Strategies

Acculturation is not a new field of study, as since the 1930s researchers have been studying and researching this area. Unfortunately, however, there has been a minimal communication approach in the study of acculturation and only a focus of acculturation research in recent years. Nevertheless, for acculturation communication is vital; it is the tool to support immigrants in the new host culture to meet their basic personal and social needs. Immigrants must learn the host cultural habits and establish working relationships with a new environment in order to acculturate to the new culture; this promotes the cycle of cultural awareness and then appropriate adaptation.

According to Berry, acculturation takes place in several stages. First of all, an acculturation person is common in building a kind of communication through business, education or immigration with the host culture. Secondly, because of the different food choice, clothing designed and language the person faces conflicts from these interactions. Thirdly, the person must fit in with the dominant culture to avoid such disagreements.

In addition, Berry conceptualizes conflict management efforts and identifies four models of acculturation policies. The implementation of the four methods for acculturation is based on the two-directional models of acculturation and will likely meet in their day-to-day lives on two major issues. The first point is the question whether people support or oppose cultural values of the mother culture. The second point is whether or not to accept the principles and practices of the target context. He analyzes how great immigrants tend to maintain their traditions and the extent to which they long to communicate with the host company, builds a conceptual backbone and defines the four different strategies of acculturation: integration, assimilation, separation and marginalization.

The first strategy, identified as integration, is the one in which individuals accept both their own cultural and the host culture values. The second is assimilation: immigrants reject their own cultural values or concepts and accept the cultural values of the host countries. The third one is separation which occurs when people adopt the values and identity of their own cultural heritage and deny the host culture. The last strategy of acculturation is marginalization which means individual's rejection of the values and identities of both cultures, and this of course exposes individuals of this category to oppression, injustice and humiliation.

Psychological Acculturation

T. Graves' concept of psychological acculturation (1967) refers to the changes of an individual engaging in the interaction with culture and having a direct influence on both the external community and its changing culture. There are two reasons to maintain the distinction between culture and psychology. The first thing to do is to consider cross-cultural psychology as interacting individual human behavior with the cultural context in which it takes place. In view of these two different phenomena levels, different concepts and measurements are needed. The second reason is that not every single person joins, engages in, or adjusts in the same manner. Even between people living in the same acculturative environment, individual differences in psychological acculturation occur. This means while general acceptance at the group level happens, people participate in it in different degrees and have variable goals that they can achieve through the contact situation (pp. 337–350).

Moreover, Berry’s view about acculturation highlights the fact that not everyone is acculturated the same way; the ways in which people are engaged are large-scale variations. Such combinations are referred to as methods for acculturation (1980, pp 9-25). Such approaches consist of two components (usually related): attitudes (the choice of individuals for how to acculturate) and behaviors (actual actions of individuals), which take place at intercultural meetings on a daily basis. Such two elements are divided both conceptually and empirically because there is typically no complete relation between them. The dominant group also imposes restrictions so that people could not have the full freedom to act according to their preferences. Nonetheless, in the comparative evaluation of how people’s attitudes and behaviors are acculturating, typically a trend shows a coherent strategy (Berry et al., 1989, p.159). The strategies used rely on a number of historical (economic and psychological) variables and the adaptive effects of these various strategies (includes both cultural and psychological) differ.

On the individual level psychological acculturation, the changes in behavior and the processes of acculturation are both recognized as the role of the acculturation process; the longer-term results (in terms of both psychological and socio cultural adaptation) always follow the strategic objectives of the communities they belong to (Berry, 1997, pp. 5–68). Consequently, Berry (1980) puts into consideration the fact that the four strategies of acculturation have been developed from two fundamental questions faced by all acculturated people. The two problems have focused on the difference between one's own and the other groups' orientations. Such problems relate to: (1) the relative desire to maintain one's own heritage and culture and (2) the relative willingness to interact and engage together with other ethno cultural communities in the wider society (pp.9-25). These strategies have different names, depending on which group is considered dominant or not.

Here it is important to note that assimilation and integration require different behaviors and attitudes. This distinction is not upheld in several cultures and among some scholars, causing confusion in the creation and evaluation of acculturation policies. That formula is based on the belief that such groups and individual members have freedom to choose how to acculturate. This formula takes the perspective of non-dominant peoples. This choice, however, is not always the case, as stated above.

In particular, integration is only possible when the dominant society has an open and inclusive orientation towards cultural diversity and can be successfully pursued by non-dominant groups. In order to achieve integration, mutual accommodation is, therefore, needed with the acceptance of the right of all groups as culturally different peoples by either group. This strategy calls on non-dominant groups to embrace basic values of the broader society and at the same time on the part of the dominant group, to change national institutions, such as schooling, health, and jobs, to better meet the needs of all groups that now live in the pluralistic society. Such two fundamental questions are answered so far from the perspective of non-dominant ethno cultural groups. The original anthropological description, however, clearly shows that the two groups in contact are engaged in the shared or reciprocal acculturation process. Thus the third dimension has been added: that of the dominant group's powerful role in influencing the way acculturation takes place.

Assimilation Strategy

Concerning the strategy of Assimilation, acculturation is different from assimilation. In other words, the acculturation process has several alternate courses and objectives. There are important differences in psychological research and are followed up later in the chapter. In the second definition, a few additional features are added, including changes that are indirect (not cultural but'' ecological'') and delayed (internal adjustments that are likely to take time, both cultural and psychological). It is important that acculturation can be ''reactive''; that is, it cannot be necessarily more similar to dominant culture, but it cannot ignore the cultural influence of the dominant group and change it back into a more ''traditional” way of life.

Assimilation is not the only type of acculturation; it has not always occurred and is rarely accepted by the communities. While cultural changes are omnipresent, cultural groups worldwide have not disappeared and cultural homogeneity has not emerged out of interactions between cultures. Resistance (separation) to assimilation and new cultures are common phenomena after contact. Berry argues:

Assimilation, when sought by the dominant acculturating group, is termed the ‘‘melting pot”. When separation is forced by the dominant group it is called ‘‘segregation’’. Marginalization, when imposed by the dominant group, is called ‘‘exclusion’’. Finally, integration, when diversity is an accepted feature of the society as a whole, including all the various ethno cultural groups, is called ‘‘multiculturalism’’. With the use of this framework, comparisons can be made between individuals and their groups, and between non-dominant peoples and the larger society”. (Qtd in Berry, 2005, p. 697–712).

Berry (1997) mentions that an important element of research in ethnic relations is the ideologies and policies of the dominant group, and the preferences of non-dominant populations are key features in research in acculturation. Therefore, confusions and conflicts between these different preferences are a difficult source for people to acculturate. We typically consider the phenomena of acculturation as experiences of acculturation cause problems to individuals (p. 369).

The convenient conception of acculturation strategies is a matter of current interest. This philosophical approach is based on the existence of three dimensions: cultural continuity, communication and involvement, and the decision-making authority on how acculturation is to take place. For a long time, there is only one dimension: it is thought that non-dominant groups and people should switch from those ''traditional'' ways of life to a similar one to that of predominant culture. This assimilation or melting pot conception of the acculturation objective, the process leading to it, is now replaced by the multidimensional view present here.

There have been a number of reasons for that change. First of all, assimilation is not the only form of acculturation at the ethnographic level of observation; it has not always taken place and it is often the goal that acculturating groups support. While there are invisible cultural changes, cultural groups across the world have not vanished, and cultural homogeneity has not emerged from intercultural ties. Resistance to (separation) assimilation and formation of new cultures are common phenomena following contact. Furthermore, such a one-dimensional conceptionalization on a psychological level cannot differentiate between "integration" and "marginalization." There is no one-dimensional scale of acculturation that has successfully tackled this problem. Nonetheless, this is a major problem because stress and transition effects for these two forms of acculturation are very different (Berry, 2005, p.65).

There is no evidence to show that these four methods of acculturation exist and that no evidence shows that integration is often the preferred way of acculturation. A number of recent studies (e.g., Ryder, Alden, & Paulhus, 2000) have confirmed the existence of these two essential dimensions. We have empirically defined dimensions with distinct behavioral correlates (p. 79).

In addition, Berry et al. (2006) have conducted research on over 5000 immigrant young people who settled in 13 countries and evaluated a range of concepts, including attitudes towards the four ways of acculturating ethnic and national identities, ethnic and national language knowledge and practice, and ethnical and national friends. The cluster analysis of all these attitudinal and behavioral data has resulted in four distinct acculturation profiles. The most young people are integrated, defined by a preferential approach to integration, positive ethnic and national identities, use of both languages, and a network of friendships involving youth from both cultures. The second largest group is an ethnic group characterized by preference for separation and refusal of assimilation, high ethnic and low national identity, primarily the application of the language of an ethnicity and friends mostly from its own ethnic group. The third major cluster is a national cluster characterized by an attitude and behavior pattern that is different from the ethnicities. Eventually, a dispersed group, pretty much identical to marginalization, has appeared.

This study has proved certain facts centered around the youngsters’ inclination towards the adoption of assimilations, separation and exclusion, and their opposing integration; this indicates that unformed or common attitudes to acculturation, low ethnic and national identities indicate a sense of disengagement, high ethnic skills, low competence, a heavy use of the national language, and high contacts with both communities; the four separate ways in which young people are acculturated prove the existence of four general acculturation strategies. Contrary to the above critiques, it appears that there are a number of methods to acculturate men, so the most preferred approach seems to be the integrative course.

Despite extensive work in the 1990s, acculturation is a key principle of intercultural communication. Kim (1986) suggests, among other things, that the words generally employed to characterize the experience of remaining in a new culture must be conceptually defined; these terms include acculturation, adaptation, adjustment, assimilation, integration, resocialisation, transculturation and transformation (Chen, 2001, p.49).

Inspired by this concept and looking for theoretical support, this study underlines the terms of adaptation, acculturation and adjustment in which they have frequently been used. The literature of intercultural communication studies usually applies intercultural adaptation, and again according to Kim, it refers to the process of increasing the level of fitness of people to meet the demands of a new cultural climate and how residents and new immigrants feel the discomfort that mismatches or incompatibility between host and birth culture are causing.

In addition to her article, kim (1986) describes acculturation as a process of learning the host culture components and addresses it together. She further explores this concept when she writes that “cross-cultural adaptation encompasses many, related but limited, concepts, from assimilation and acculturation to coping, and adjustment [...] and integration” (P.511).

Integration: Adaptation

Some long-term adaptations may be achieved as a result of attempts to deal with these changes in acculturation. As mentioned above, adjustment refers in response to external demands to relatively stable changes in an individual or a group. In addition, adaptation may or may not enhance the ''match'' between individuals and their environment. This is, therefore, not a term which necessarily entails changing individuals or groups more in the same way as their environments (that is, adaptation via assimilation), but which may include resistance and attempts to change or move away from environments altogether (i.e. by separation). In this way, adaptation is an outcome which can or cannot be positive (i.e. is just fit).

There are also many facets to adaptation. Ward (1996) suggests and accepts the initial distinction between mental and socio-cultural change. Psychological adjustment includes primarily the psychological and physical goodness while socio-cultural adjustment refers to how an acculturated person will eat every day in a new context (pp. 124–147).

However, psychological problems frequently escalate shortly after communication, accompanied by the general decline (but variable) over time; however, socio-cultural adaptation usually improves on a linear basis over time. Analysis of the adjustment factors show a generally consistent pattern. The variables of personality, life changes and social support are predicted in terms of good psychological adaption, while cultural knowledge, level of interaction and supportive intergroup attitudes predict good socio-cultural adaptation.

As for Berry (1997) and Ward (1996), there are further generalization researches related to adaptation to acculturation strategies. Those who seek and practice inclusion seem to be well suited to both modes of adaptation and those who are excluded less well. Once, intermediate adaptation results are related to assimilation and separation strategies. This generalization is remarkably coherent and coincides with the generalization of stress above.

Berry and Sam (1997) review evidence of the positive advantages of the integration strategy (p. 291). In this context, Curran (2003) shows clearly in his study of Irish immigrants that those who adopt the strategy of integration have better health than those that are acculturated by other means, particularly by marginalization. The study on migrant youngsters (Berry et al. 2006) mentioned earlier provides the most significant evidence to support this pattern. Therefore, recent findings show that those who follow integrative approaches (in terms of habits, attitudes and identities) are able to make better adaptations to acculturate than those who are otherwise, in particular those who are neutralized or marginal in acculturation. Moreover, Berry in his study about multicultural policy in Canada (1984) tackles the idea that the integrationist approach has been adopted in some countries as multiculturalism policies that promote and advocate the retention of valued characteristics of all cultures, while simultaneously promoting the full participation of the ethno cultural communities in the developing institutions of the larger (p.353).

That is why, integration strategy is considered one of the best choices for those who do not wish to erase their own identities and at the same time establish balanced healthy relationships in the host or large society. As a matter of fact, cultural diversity and the resulting acculturation in all the countries seem certain. Finding a way to accommodate each other presents a challenge and an opportunity for psychologists from all walks of life. Consequently, diversity is an important fact of modern life. Therefore, those who seek and achieve integration seem more adapted and those who are marginalized are less well suited for both modes of adaptation. Once, assimilation and separation approaches are related to intermediate effects of adaptation.

Connection among culturally diverse people is as old as history. For one community, individuals have always come to business with learn from and exert influence on foreign lands in other cultures. Many community members of the world observe tourists from outside the country being hospitable to them, given their motives for invasion, subjugate and conquest are considered accommodating or unfriendly to the newcomers.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that the distinction between then and now lies only in the degree to which the quantum increase in people's movement across national and ethnic borders is due to factors such as mass access to jet travel, globalization of trade, expansion of educational exchanges, rising migrants, refugees and foreign workers' movements. And among all of these students from abroad, there are more unfamiliarity and uncertainty and thereby more strategies for dealing with this unexpected event due to their long stay in a foreign culture (Hu, 1999, p. 544).


Ende der Leseprobe aus 107 Seiten


Cultural criticism and the theory of acculturation. Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale" and Michael Ondaatje’s "The English Patient"
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cultural, margaret, atwood’s, handmaid’s, tale, michael, ondaatje’s, english, patient
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Mai Emad (Autor:in), 2021, Cultural criticism and the theory of acculturation. Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale" and Michael Ondaatje’s "The English Patient", München, GRIN Verlag,


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Titel: Cultural criticism and the theory of acculturation. Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale" and Michael Ondaatje’s "The English Patient"

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