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Information technology contributes to integration and identity

Recent revolutionary developments in the field of new media and information technology are enabling immigrants to adapt to a new culture more rapidly, and at the same time to stay in touch more easily with their culture of origin. These are the conclusions of sociologist Marvin Shaub in his PhD dissertation.

When groups of individuals from different cultures come into contact with each other on a regular basis, the original cultural patterns of one or both groups change. In sociology, this process is known as acculturation. Marvin Shaub studied how processes of acculturation are influenced by differences in the origins of immigrants, sociological developments in the country of settlement and the developments in the field of information technology.

He did this by means of a literature survey and by conducting interviews with prominent scientists and immigrants from a range of backgrounds including Hispanic, Japanese, Muslim and Russian.

Shaub explains that, in the United States, the first immigrants did not adapt to the non-native population, which mainly consisted of African Americans, or to the indigenous Indians. The immigrants shared a North European culture, as they came from England, the Netherlands and other Northern European countries. It was only later, once people from Eastern and Southern Europe emigrated to the United States, that acculturation became relevant. Nowadays, most immigrants to the US come from Latin America and Asia. They tend to maintain their original identity in addition to developing an American identity, which leads to a hybrid cultural orientation.

On the basis of his findings, Shaub developed a model to measure the extent to which acculturation with groups from various cultures has taken place. In addition he shows that new media and information technology give immigrants more opportunities to come into contact with other individuals and new environments. At the same time, new media also give them a simple way of keeping in touch with their original culture. This Ether World builds a bridge between information technology and everyday physical reality.

Corine Schouten | alfa
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