Acculturation of Australian Immigrants and Its Psychological Impact

Immigration to Australia, Australia’s Immigration policies, psychological impact of immigration on migrants in Australia, acculturation and immigration in Australia, acculturation and mental health of immigrants

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. As of 2017, Australia had a population of 24.6 million people. The original occupants of Australia were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. However, the country has had a steady increase in immigrants, mainly from Europe, and the indigenous people today make up only 2.4% of the population. The immigrants are now from different parts of the world, but the majority still comes from Europe. The country has had favourable immigration policies, a factor that has contributed to the steady increase in the number of immigrants to the country. The country has three main immigration programs, which include humanitarian programs, migration programs, and settlement and migration services.

The country has a favourable social, economic, natural, and political environment, which creates opportunities for immigrants, especially those with specialised skills. However, there have been concerns in recent times about the rising number of immigrants and their impact on the population levels, environment, infrastructure, and housing opportunities. Due to the need to fit into society, acculturation has played a leading part to create harmony, facilitate the settling down of immigrants, and foster economic, political, and social cohesion. Acculturation is the process in which people from two or more different cultures come into continuous contact with one another that results in cultural changes (Berry, 1997). In many cases, the culturally non-dominant group is the one that undergoes acculturation as its members find themselves in a different community where they need to pick up cultural cues to help them fit into the general society.

In his multidimensional model, Berry has proposed four acculturation strategies that are useful for studying how immigrant individuals engage in multiple cultures. The first is assimilation, in which those who are taking up a new culture lose their original one and replace it with the former (Berry, 1997). It often happens to second and consequent generations of immigrants, who grow and take cultural practices of the dominant group, as they have little contact with their native community. The second strategy is integration in which the assimilated group adopts the new culture but keeps their original identity (Berry, 1997). In this case, the members take up cultural practices that help them adapt to the host culture and fit in. This strategy is widespread among first-generation immigrants, as they have a solid grounding on their heritage. Thus, acculturation in this context mainly involves improving one’s culture to fit into broader society.

The third strategy is a separation in which the members who immigrate to the host culture reject it and keep following the original cultural practices (Berry, 1997). This approach is widespread among refugees, who do not find themselves in a broader society willingly. They hold on to their native culture as it gives them a sense of identity and reduces the psychological impact of being displaced and having to take up a new culture. Finally, people deny both cultures in marginalisation (Berry, 1997). Those who do not wish to maintain their native cultural identity use this strategy because of no interest in having relationships with the host society. As a result, Berry’s framework remains helpful in understanding the different ways immigrants form identities as members of a community or culture that exists within a broader context.

In line with Berry (1997), people grow up in a particular cultural context, which becomes their primary culture, and then learn the ways to behave in different situations that require a degree of acculturation. In his view, it is, therefore, a cross-cultural struggle that marginalises, assimilates, separates, and integrates people into the broader culture (Berry, 1997). This opinion forms the conceptual framework in this discussion, which looks at the psychological impact of acculturation in immigrants. In particular, the effects of acculturation are psychological because it brings about individual struggles in determining whether one accepts, rejects, or only takes bits that help him/her to fit into the new culture.

Aims of the Study
The study aims to determine the psychological impact of acculturation on immigrants in Australia because the country has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. The migrants that come from different cultures make up an essential part of Australian society that has developed and relax its immigration policies to attract skilled labour (Chiou, 2017). The study aims at understanding many patterns of their acculturation and to what extent this helps them navigate the complex Australian community, as it comprises people from different cultural backgrounds with unique traits. This proposal is in line with Berry’s multidimensional framework that suggests different ways of acculturation can affect the psychological wellbeing of acculturated individuals.

Description of Content
The following discussion aims to draw up a research study for the subject matter. The content will comprise methods used, the target audience of the research findings, the milestones of this project, and a detailed literature review, which will look at available studies. It will create a solid basis for providing insights that will help in conducting educational research. The study will test whether and how acculturation psychologically impacts immigrants in Australia.

My Arguments
Acculturation is a natural process that takes place when people from different cultural backgrounds interact. It happens because no single culture has the tools required to help a person interrelate with others, especially those from other backgrounds. Due to the diversity of cultures and increased globalisation, the nuances of cultural factors from different communities guide social interaction, which, by itself, creates a room for acculturation for people who have to live in a new culture for long periods.

Immigration provides a basis for acculturation, as the immigrants often have to learn aspects to fit in. Berry (1997) notes that immigrants acculturated through separation highly value the maintenance of their heritage and do not wish to participate in or associate with the broader society. It indicates that holding on to one’s culture has significant psychological impacts on the person. I found this observation intriguing, and it developed my interest in the subject matter. As a result, in this research, I will try to meet people who had experienced different acculturation patterns and observe how this process has affected them psychologically. In my view, the individuals who maintain their culture while adopting the practices of the new community generally have a rich experience because they can use different cultural aspects of the native lands they are aware of to interact with other people. The fluidity provides a person with tools to relate with others successfully, an essential factor for their psychological growth and wellbeing.

Methodological Approach
The study will use online surveys issued out to cultural psychologists who help immigrants adapt to the new culture. The psychologists have great insights into how different methods of acculturation impact the psychological wellbeing of immigrants. The study will use Survey Monkey to collect and analyse data. The questionnaires used will have a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to ensure that the data has internal validity. I will send the surveys via email to a list of potential 50 respondents who will be from different parts of the country. The study will aim at getting responses from cultural psychologists who deal with people from different cultural backgrounds. The period of the survey will be of one month to allow the targeted population to respond adequately. The theoretical perspective used will be the model developed by Berry (1997) that looks at the four strategies in which people get acculturated. This multidimensional model will form the basis on which the study will analyse data.

Technical Requirements
The research will require knowledge on how to collect data organised into themes as opposed to simple statistics. Of particular importance is to know how to use facilities such as laptops and online data collection platforms as well. There will also be a need to comprehend how acculturation occurs, as this will be critical in understanding the data.

The target audience for the study includes cultural psychologists and policymakers who aim at ensuring that immigrants settle into their new communities comfortably. The research will shed light on the most appropriate ways to conduct acculturation to alleviate a negative psychological impact. The research information gathered will also provide insights for future studies on the subject. The issue of acculturation has been both psychological and cultural problem, and the way it occurs can influence the outcomes. Thus, this study will provide insights that can further be probed through further research.

Production Breakdown
The study will take about one month to gather data because it intends to give respondents enough time to participate by considering their busy schedules. The targeted respondents will include cultural psychologists practicing at main facilities. The data analysis will take effect immediately after the time for data collection lapses. I will finish the two processes within a period of two weeks. The first step will involve collating all the responses and organising them into themes that have detailed information about the different methods of acculturation. Finally, I will arrange the data in the form of a report, which will contain details about the findings. After creating logical sense of the data’s order, I will spend time reading every piece of data and making notes on the materials. I will also keep minutes of the overall project, reminding myself of where things are and how I can use them. All of this preparatory work is invaluable, and it will take two weeks to include the necessary information for a comprehensive view of the subject matter.

Background Research: Literature Review
Several studies have researched the subject of acculturation and how the four main ways in which it takes place impact the psychological wellbeing of acculturated individuals. Almost all scholars agree that acculturation is not just a social issue. It is also a psychological one that affects the ability of people to adapt, especially immigrants in the host society.

Role of Resilience
In a study conducted by Wu et al. (2018), it emerged the role of resilience as a mediator in the acculturation of youths in addition to the four orientations. It found that resilient individuals have better mental health outcomes than those who did not have it (Wu et al., 2018). It is because, with resilience, the migrant youths were able to overcome the challenges they encountered daily. The role of various acculturation strategies was also critical. The findings revealed that the young immigrants acculturated through assimilation exhibited lower levels of resilience compared to individuals through separation and integration (Wu et al., 2018). The results indicated that the ability to maintain one’s culture was significant in helping people foster resilience because it eased the process of acculturation.

Parental Attitudes
In some cases, the acculturation process results in the creation of homogeneous societies, which have developed their cultures over a long period. The host culture maintains the cohesiveness of the community, and any new person coming in has to acquire aspects of the new place. In a study by Sam (1995), it emerged that youth immigrating into such societies preferred separation and integration as the main models of acculturation. It implies that the immigrant youth still preferred to hold on to the cultures, as they gave them a sense of identity. On the other hand, parental influence played a prominent role, as the parents of the youth helped them stay grounded to their cultures (Sam, 1995). Separation and integration supported the young immigrants to maintain stable mental wellbeing, as they had an identity that would help them navigate the host society (Sam, 1995). Their cultures provided them with the necessary tools that they would use to enter into a new community.

Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology, 46(1), 5-34.
Chiou, B. (2017). Two-step migration: A comparison of Australia’s and New Zealand’s policy development between 1998 and 2010. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 26(1), 84-107.
Sam, D. L. (1995). Acculturation attitudes among young immigrants as a function of perceived parental attitudes toward cultural change. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 15(2), 238-258.
Wu, Q., Ge, T., Emond, A., Foster, K., Gatt, J. M., Hadfield, K., ... & Wouldes, T. A. (2018). Acculturation, resilience, and the mental health of migrant youth: A cross-country comparative study. Public Health, 162, 63-70.