Culture shock, el choque cultural

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  • Publicado : 3 de marzo de 2010
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Experiencing a second culture often results in an educational benefit, since such exposure broadens one's perspective, promotes personality growth, and self-development. It also provides insight into the culture of origin through a contrast with other worldviews. Moreover, tourist and entertainment industries havesaid very often that exotic places can provide a welcome change from the tedium of familiar, routine activities. It is, therefore, good idea to spend money and travel abroad in search of that goal. Thirdly, a second-culture exposure results in an understanding between the peoples of the world. This is an aid to better international relationships and fewer inter-group frictions.
Exposure tounfamiliar cultures, however, very often is stressful and potentially harmful, if we consider the psychological implications of more than a short-term culture change. One needs to live in another culture, experience the difference longer and deeper than a tourist, to understand why many long-term sojourners experience depression, anxiety and confusion. Sometimes, physical illness is a directconsequence. A good deal of everyday evidence shows that rather than creating better mutual understanding, cultural contact often leads to hostility and very poor interaction among those involved in the interchange.
Cross-cultural interchange is older than recorded history. For many centuries, people have traveled to other lands, to trade, teach, learn, convert, succor, settle or conquer. It seems thatcultural contact and its psychological consequences are not only a modern phenomenon. This is specially true in a country like the U.S.A. that has important culture diversities. However, psychology, sociology and anthropology, the disciplines more concerned with the topic, are modern indeed, but the topic is very old. We have many writings from travelers, explorers, adventurers, refugees,charlatans, traders, missionaries, pilgrims and even tourists that dealt with what today would be labeled as cross-cultural phenomena. Those authors may not be scientists, but several of them (e.g., journals of Captain Cook, Marco Polo, Xenophon, Columbus, Drake) provide excellent eyewitness accounts. Recently some novels, such as Clavell's Shogun and Attenborough's Gandhi, have appeared in the movies,showing how their writers provided extraordinarily perceptive analyses of cultural contact.
Today, when it takes hours instead of years to travel from England to Australia, when governments in the whole world are interacting and establishing more relationships, when migrations are increasing for many reasons, when we have multinational companies, and many international programs, thecross-cultural issue became more and more important for social scientists.
Modern researchers have categorized and conceptualized the complex psychological reaction involved in cultural interchange. The notion of "culture shock" and its derivatives "role shock," (Byrnes, 1966); "culture fatigue," (Guthrie, 1975); "language shock" (Smalley 1963); "pervasive ambiguity" (Ball-Rokeach, 1973); "role strain" and"role ambiguity" have been used to explain and understand the problem. In doing so, they have merely placed the emphasis on slightly different aspects of the same problem. Since it is inevitable that the process will have both positive and negative consequences, psychologists and other multidisciplinary researchers like anthropologists, sociologists, demographers and psychiatrists are studyingthe conditions under which either positive and negative consequences may be expected to occur and how successful a particular sojourn is likely to be. "Culture shock" can be seen as a transitional experience that can result in the adoption of new values, attitudes and behavioral patterns (Adler, 1975).

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