Acculturation and Its Discontents: A Case for Bringing Anthropology Back into the Conversation
Final Published Version
International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology
Anthropologists’ contribution to the study of cultural change is urgent in light of the increasing number of people of different backgrounds who are migrating around the globe and settling in new communities, and the opportunities and challenges that come along with that process. By examining the anthropological literature on acculturation going back to the 1936 Memorandum by Redfield, Linton and Herskovits, this paper reviews and assesses the discipline’s perspective on acculturation, and lays out the case for why it is critical for anthropologists to re-engage the concept. Although other disciplines, particularly psychology and sociology, have dominated the field of acculturation research more recently, they mostly have done so with a narrow focus. While it is important to acknowledge the pitfalls of anthropology’s past study of acculturation, there are important features of the acculturation construct that continue to be relevant. Among these are the study of acculturation as a process that is multidimensional; the investigation of how different kinds of power affect the acculturation process; the impacts of attitudes, actions and policies of the receiving group on how acculturation proceeds; the role of “real history” in understanding processes of acculturation; and the global perspective on these processes. We suggest ways in which anthropologists can reignite the field of acculturation research by engaging with Redfield, Linton and Herskovits’ framework and subsequent anthropological literature.
Guarnaccia, P. & C. Hausmann-Stabile 2016. Acculturation and its discontents: A case for bringing back anthropology back into the discussion. International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 4.2: 114-124.