There is fairly a large body of literature on the Acculturation process of immigrants, however most of the research has primarily focused the relationship between mass media and Acculturation ignoring the impact of interpersonal communication in the process.

The negative experience that international students relate to within the nation they go to acquire education is an obvious factor whose existence cannot be overemphasised. This occurrence is synonymous with almost all international students the Chinese included. This issue is mainly blamed on the problems that exist in the communication processes among individuals of different backgrounds, both ethnic and cultural. Group communication is believed to form one of the major factors of this problem.

This paper aims to present a bibliographic essay using the major works on communication and Acculturation.

Group communication Acculturation

Acculturation is not a new area of study, since scholars have studied and researched the area since the 1930s. Unfortunately though Scholars have, for the most part, ignored the communication aspects of acculturation and when communication variables were included in these studies, they were discussed as nominal factors rather than significant factors. Among the communication variables examined in those studies were usage of ethnic publications (Breton, 1964); competency in the host language (DeFleur and Cho,

1957; Johnston, 1963); ownership of television and radio (Graves, 1967); and

Interpersonal relationships (Weinstock, 1964; Graves, 1967).

Acculturation is an area believed to be studied by Sociologist and Anthropologist and as such previous research have come from these field of study most of which have ignored the significance of communication in the acculturation process an example would be the works of Keesing (1953) and Spiro (1955) who gave comprehensive summaries of the acculturation literature from an anthropological perspective. They concluded that the term “acculturation” was not used consistently in the literature. Sometimes the terms “assimilation,” “cultural integration,” “accommodation,” “absorption,” and “self-identification” are used, not necessarily equivalently, but to refer generally to the concept of “acculturation.” The communication aspects in the acculturation process go unmentioned.

Some researchers in anthropology and sociology have conducted studies in which communication variables assumed an incidental part (Nagata, 1969). Anthropological scholars view communication as the system facilitating the acculturation flow between the two cultures in contact. For example, Shibutani and Kwan (1965) tried to explain inter-ethnic relations in terms of what communication channels can do. Culture was described as “…the product of communication and a minority group develops a distinctive outlook to the extent that it has its own communication channels”

Most recently scholars in the field of mass communication have mainly sought out the relationship between acculturation and mass communication consumption.

Won (1977) for example found a robust link between the degrees of acculturation and immigrants choice of media. Bao-hui (1999) who employed a uses and gratification approach to examine media consumption and acculturation among Chinese students saw that the use of the media both English and Chinese gratifies, to varying degrees, such acculturation needs as English skill and information and knowledge of the host society. However the availability of Chinese-language media and a unique set of sociodemographic variables combine to hamper the impact of English media use on the immigrants. It is obvious from the above that students still patronize Chinese language media, very little can be done to salvage the situation even with what is known. This is because one cannot make personal choices for another individual.

On the contrary, with group communication and its effects on acculturation, a lot can be done both at the institutional level and the home nation of these students.

The factors that trigger group associations and communications have to be observed and remodelled in an effort to enhance the ability of group communications in fostering acculturation (Trueba & Bartolome, 2000).

In developing this area of thought several works have being helpful and one can build upon these works. He predominant communication researcher in acculturation has been Young Kim. Kim (1976) attempted a systematic effort to provide a theoretical explanation for the communication behaviors of immigrants. Kim used language fluency, interaction potential, acculturation motivation, and mass media availability as independent variables and interpersonal communication and mass media consumption as the dependent variables. Kim then proposed a path model to investigate a causal relationship between intercultural communication patterns and perceptual complexity. The major conclusions of this research were: (1) acculturation motivation, language fluency, and interpersonal and mass media channel accessibility are major causal factors of an immigrant’s intercultural communication behavior; (2) the four independent variables do not affect one’s cognitive complexity directly, but are mediated by one’s interpersonal and mass communication experiences in the host society; (3) the influence of interpersonal communication exceeds that of mass media usage in developing a complex cognitive system in perceiving the host society; and, (4) educational background, sex, time among the host society, and age at the time of immigration are the key determinants of one’s language competence, acculturation motivation, and accessibility to host communication channels .

Also (Johnston, 1963; Weinstock, 1964) suggest that immigrants who pursue interpersonal relationships with Americans socially not only develop a greater acculturation potential but also actually achieve a higher acculturation level (Johnston, 1963; Weinstock, 1964).

Acculturation is an element whose importance can’t be underestimated especially in the present world where globalization is authentic. The level of immigration and the increasing need for cultural integration in the world has definitely diminished the boundaries that initially existed in the globe. The aspect of communication is very significant in the process in spite of the fact that communication has sometimes acted contrary to the expectations of the society. Group communication, owing to the fact that it encourages polarization has been blamed for hindering acculturation in the society


Breton, R. (1964) Institutional completeness of ethnic communities and the personal

Relations of immigrants. American Journal of Sociology, 7, 193-205.


DeFleur, M.L., & Cho, S.C.(1957) Assimilation of Japanese born women in an American city. Social Problems, 4, 244-257.


Johnston, R. 1963        New approach to the meaning of assimilation. American

Anthropologist, 69, 306-321. 1984 Communication patterns among young Korean immigrants.

International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 8, 373-389.


Keesing, F.M. 1953      Culture-change–an analysis and bibliography of anthropological

Sources to 1952. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 115


Kim, J. K. (1980) Explaining acculturation in a communication framework: An

Empirical test. Communication Monographs, 47, 155-179.


Nagata (1969)     A statistical approach to the study of acculturation of an ethnic group

Based on communication-oriented variables. The case of Japanese Americans in Chicago (Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Dissertation Abstracts International, 31, 491B.


Shibutani, T. & Kwan, K.M. (1965) Ethnic stratification; a comparative approach. New York: Macmillan.

Social Science Research Council Summer Seminar on Acculturation. 1956           Acculturation: Exploratory formulation. American Anthropologist, 56,


Spiro, M.E. (1955)       the acculturation of American ethnic groups. American Anthropologist, 57, 1240-1252.


Ward, C. & Rana-Deuba, A. (1999) Acculturation and adaptation revisited. Journal of Cross Cultural

Psychology, 30, (4), 422-442.


Weinstock, S.A.(1964) Some factors that retard or accelerate the rate of acculturation: With specific reference to Hungarian immigrants. Human Relations, 17, 321-340.


Zaharna, R. (1989) Self-shock: The double-binding challenge of identity. International

Journal of Intercultural Relations, 13, 501-525.








Bibliographic essay

Introduction to graduate studies

Arkansas State University

Chinenye RIta Ifepe