4 Responses to Culture Shock

[By a friend – see previous post]

Four kinds of responses that people tend to make when they are caught up in cross-cultural situations:

1 passing – the individual, particularly in contact situations in which the second culture has a higher status, may reject the (old) culture of origin and totally fall for the new culture.

2 chauvinist – the individual, after coming into contact with a second culture, rejects those influences as alien, and retreats back into their culture of origin and becomes a militant nationalist and chauvinist.”

3 marginal – the individual vacillates between the two cultures, feeling at home in neither, an effect that has been referred to as the ‘marginal syndrome’.

4 mediating – some people seem to be able to synthesize their various cultural identities, the equivalent of integration at the personal level, and acquire genuine bicultural or multicultural personalities. Such individuals are relatively rare, and Bochner has referred to them as ‘mediating persons’.

Bochner, Stephen and Adrian Furnham. Culture Shock: Psychological Reactions Unfamiliar Environments. London: Methuen Publishing, 1986.

Ultimately Furnham & Bochner suggest that one’s viewpoint must be different. The situation will not be different, but how we approach it will be. All new situations are traumatic, even in one’s own culture. But the hope is that in learning, not merely adjusting, we who are sojourning in another culture will learn to accommodate to the new situation, and recognize that we are in a growing period.

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