Moving Experience. Complexities of acculturation

J.R. drs. König

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisAcademic

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In this thesis the theory of the dialogical self (Hermans) is explored in the context of global mobility and hybrid identities. A group of global nomads were asked whether they recognise different cultural identities within themselves and whether a dialogue between two personal cultural voices introduced new meaning into their personal meaning system. Also the emotional component of their personal cultural positions and dialogical valuations was explored using the Self Confrontation Method (Hermans). An exciting discovery was that the non Dutch voices or positions were often valued with ambivalent feelings and that these positions often carried the emotional valuation of powerlessness and isolation or protest and resistance and that they were often hidden, subdued or disenfranchised. We can recognise an internal power structure between personal cultural positions that seems to be related to dominant discourses in society. I also describe an acculturative learning process of career consultants as they started to work with tertiary educated refugee clients. They reflect on their experiences in Balint intervision sessions and wrote case studies about their experiences. During their first sessions, their confusion was obvious as they realised that their routine way of working was not appropriate when dealing with a person from a completely different cultural context. In dialogue with each other and with their clients they adjusted their approach so that they could better explore the alterity of the other and at the same time identify their own cultural conditioning. This shows that both the acculturating foreigner and the native Dutchman partake of a process of acculturation to an environment that is becoming increasingly diverse and complex. In my research a number of subtle discursive strategies are unveiled that could play a part in the fact that diversity in organisations is hard to realise and/or maintain. If cultural migrants hide their personal cultural diversityvdue to the dominant discourses in society and locals avoid the initial discomfortvof the first stages of an intercultural learning process, due also partly to thevhabitus of pillarisation (Koopmans, 2003) in The Netherlands, then there is a fundamental gap in bridging a communicative divide. My thesis was written to bridge this communicative divide and as a counternarrative to the at times all too simplistic thinking about adaptation and acculturation in the Dutch public domain. By reflecting on my personal and professional development, my research with global noamds and my work as a career coach with refugees I have developed a practical methodology with which to explore the complexities of individuals with bi and multicultural identities. A practical result that emerges out of the two parts of my research is the development of a PEACE methodology (Personal Emotional Account of Cultural Experience), with the help of which the complexity of personal cultural positions of multicultural migrants may be explored and discussed. This as an inspiration and suggestion, for others to follow.
Original languageAmerican English
  • Kunneman, H.P., Supervisor, External person
  • Ghorashi, H., Supervisor, External person
Award date23 May 2012
Print ISBNs9789086596065
Electronic ISBNs9789086596065
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2012

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