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Processes of nurturing and maintenance of multicultural identity in the 21st century: A qualitative study of the experience of long-term transcultural sojourners
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In today’s world, exposure to other cultures has become a symbol of increasing globalization processes. Many people leave their home area to embark on a voyage of discovery and learning that affects their original cultural identity.

This study explores the life experience of independent transcultural sojourners, i.e. people who freely decide to relocate to different cultural contexts after their formative years. The inquiry covers three major themes of their intercultural experience: Multicultural identity, processes of intercultural adaptation, and change and transformation ensuing from multiple intercultural relocations. The aim of this study is to show the effects of multiple intercultural experiences on the identity of transcultural sojourners, and how they dealt with relevant emerging processes of intercultural adaptation.

Following a format suggested by Seidman (1996), five respondents were asked to recount and reflect on their transcultural experience in three separate, asynchronous interviews that covered three dimensions of their intercultural experience: past, present, and reflections. The ensuing text comprised about 16,000 words and was analyzed using both a narrative and a thematic approach using a mixed typology of categories and sub-themes made up of indigenous typology stemming from relevant scholarly literature and researcher-constructed typology suggested by the researcher and the respondents.

The analysis indicates that personal factors like mindfulness, motivation, resourcefulness, and intercultural awareness strongly influence processes of Intercultural communication competence and Multicultural identity development. Contextual factors are also relevant, as they include issues of avowed and ascribed identity. The analysis also shows no specific, generalizable link between the presence of intercultural stimuli in the original cultural milieus and the decision to relocate across cultural boundaries. Furthermore, it points to a strong relation between Piagetian constructivist learning theories and the development of ICC competence. The study also indicates that independent transcultural sojourners are in a position to negotiate the level of their integration and marginality, which in turn affects the spectrum of their Intercultural communication competence.

Finally, this study indicates the limited applicability of traditional functionalist approaches to understanding and conceptualizing processes of intercultural adaptation and multicultural identity building. It also suggests the need for a shift towards a dialogical perspective informed by systems-thinking and Chaos theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 91 p.
Keyword [en]
intercultural communication, intercultural, multicultural, transcultural, adaptation, identity, transformation, intercultural competence, marginality, avowed identity, ascribed identity, systems-thinking, dialogical perspective, mindfulness, constructivism, interdisciplinary, chaos theory
Keyword [it]
comunicazione interculturale, identita', identità, scienza dell'educazione, interdisciplinare, multiculturale
Keyword [de]
interkulturelle kommunikation, identitaet, multikulturell, identität
National Category
Pedagogy Communication Studies Pedagogy
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-59533ISRN: LIU-IBL/IMPALGC-A--10/002-SEOAI: diva2:352151
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
The author would like to acknowledge the inspiration and passion for intercultural issues provided over the years by the Intercultural Insights on-line community. Seattle, summer 2010.Available from: 2010-09-22 Created: 2010-09-18 Last updated: 2010-09-22Bibliographically approved

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