When a person moves from one culture to another, they may experience not only the natural cultural change but also change in personal culture through a process called acculturation ─ also called assimilation or integration.
Acculturation is an adjustment and adaptation process. Someone moving into a different culture may gradually integrate the value system of the new host culture into their personal practice, and begin to behave in ways similar to the host culture rather than to their original culture.
There are times when a second-generation resident who is born and educated in Australia or another Western culture may choose to identify more with their parents’ heritage than with the country of their birth. This ethnic identity is found in the example of a young man born in Australia of immigrant Italian parents who, despite being wholly educated in this country, prefers to identify as Italian rather than Australian.
A person’s level of acculturation needs to be understood if you are to provide appropriate service. The example below shows the level of acculturation of a 20-year-old Chinese woman who has recently migrated to Australia and has adjusted to Australian culture quickly. She has embraced Australian cultural behaviours, and prefers to be treated as other Australians are.
Example of acculturation level
Acculturation: Level of acculturation as a factor in building work relationships.
Culture in your community: A mosaic or a melting pot: Does multiculturalism recognise diverse cultures as an intrinsic part of the whole society?