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Acculturation contexts: Theorizing on the role of inter-cultural hierarchy in contemporary immigrants’ acculturation strategies

Cristina S. Stephens


Recent efforts to expand the theoretical framework of acculturation have drawn attention to a variety of pre-migration and reception contexts that affect how immigrants engage with the culture of their country of destination. Building on John W. Berry’s seminal work, this article contributes to the development of acculturation theory by delineating the previously under-explored context of inter-cultural hierarchy. Employing a critical theory stance, the paper argues that immigrants’ response to western cultural dominance and the rise of neoliberal imperatives can influence, along with the above mentioned contexts, their acculturative strategies. The paper proposes distinctions between types of assimilation, integration and separation strategies that have the potential to capture immigrant’s risk of long-term psychosocial maladjustment in the country of destination.


Immigration; acculturation; assimilation; integration; separation; inter-group hierarchy; cultural hegemony

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