Adaptation of Foreigners to New Conditions and New Culture

Topics: Culture Shock

Researchers have over time argued that Oberg’s model of ‘culture shock’ is very influential in intercultural communication and interrelated field such as intercultural education. Several studies are focusing on culture shock, frequently evaluating international students to help get a better understanding. The model is used to explain the experiences of international students in new environments. It is often argued that when individuals leave the social setting they are familiar with and where their comfort is assured and move to new cultural environments, as in the case of learners who spend some of their time studying in foreign countries, they will be forced to adapt to the novel setting and the new culture.

They draw from Oberg’s ideas to argue that it needs not be presumed that the target cultures are dominated by similar patterns to their native culture because every culture identifies the world surrounding it in dissimilar means and cultivates dissimilar strategies and mechanisms to understand it (Oberg, 178).

Therefore, it is believed that all the persons transplanted overseas will be subjects of stimuli, that at some time or they will not understand how to understand in a comprehensible manner as they will attempt to utilize construal designs they perceived being useful in their native culture but which their usefulness in the target culture is limited. Researchers have over time concurred with the evidence that any individual getting into a new cultural environment will be subjected to experience the ‘culture shock’. The primary difference will be the extent to which this individual will be affected.

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A search on major electronic bases reveals that Oberg’s theory of culture shock has widely been cited and applied by other researchers and scholars. Specifically, searching “Cultural shock: Adjustment to new cultural environments,” the article that contains the theory of culture shock in Google Scholar, the findings shows that it has been cited 4090 times. A more detailed search of SAGE Publishing shows that the article was published in August 2016. A review of the altimetric score provided by the publisher since being published in 2016 shows that the article has been mentioned twice by news outlets and 812 publications have cited Oberg’s work on dimensions. Besides, 479 Mendeley readers have used the research (Oberg). This is as summarized in the diagram below:

The large number of citations shown in both the taupe Google Scholar database and the SAGE Publishing website reveals that Oberg’s theory of culture shock has been applied extensively in the studies and research of other writers. These statistics show that Oberg’s work has been foundational in helping other writers to express their views about culture shock. A large number of citations also signifies that a large number of writers find Oberg’s theory of culture shock reliable and valid and hence, include it in their works too. Oberg’s work influences the perceptions and views of other writers concerning culture shock and has been vital in their writings.

Since Oberg introduced the theory of culture shock, many writers have continued to apply it to add insights about culture shock while others have expounded it to integrate their ideas. Oberg’s work continues to inspire writers and one such writer is Iona Cups whose article, “Culture Shock and Identity” is an ideal example that illustrates how other people have incorporated Oberg’s ideas in their works. In the article, the author gives an interpretation of the effects that culture shock has on the identity of individuals and attracts consideration of the social impacts of culturally different experiences. The author employs a theoretical background characterized by the culture shock stages as established and interpreted by Paul Pedersen, who borrows significantly from Oberg’s theory of culture, and illustrations from the personal and work encounters of the author are utilized as examples. An analysis of the article shows that Oberg’s theory of culture has both been updated and altered since its initial appearance. Although Cups acknowledges Oberg as the person who first coined the term ‘culture shock,’ her definition of the term is an updated version of Oberg’s. She claims that culture shock is a course that somebody passes through as he or she is in a new, unaccustomed state or environment that necessitates evolving novel ways of symbolic representation and novel perceptions of self, others, and the environment. Cups borrows the concept of an unfamiliar environment and develops new perceptions about the new environment from Oberg’s theory of culture shock. Cups updates the theory by including the concept of developing new modes of symbolic representation (Cups, 186). As the updates by Cups Cupssuggests, more writers are using Oberg’s theory of culture shock to carry out more studies about learning experiences and coping approaches. This implies that new studies about culture shock are viewing individuals more as active participants in negotiating with the new realities in pursuit of better resolutions, contrary to the theory Oberg provides of culture shock (Li, 73).

Oberg’s theory of culture has undergone significant alterations since its first appearance. Perhaps, the most notable alteration that has happened to the theory is about the stages of culture shock. Oberg suggested a theory that discussed four stages of culture shock: honeymoon stage, rejection or regression stage, adjustment/ negotiation stage, On, and a mastery stage. However, as revealed in the article, writers have altered these stages and developed others. For example, Paul Pedersen uses five stages to describe the qualitative experience of culture shock. Just like Oberg calls the first stage ‘the honeymoon,’ so does Pedersen (Pedersen). On the contrary, CupsCups calls this stage “the rising stage.” A large number of writers are altering this stage to include vulnerable persons like the refugees who are not initially included by Oberg. Pedersen renames the second stage ‘disintegration” while Cups refers to it as “the fall.” Pedersen describes the third stage as ‘reintegration’ while Cups refers to it as “learning to walk again.” Moreover, Pedersen refers to the fourth stage as ‘autonomy’ while Cups calls it “juggling.” Unlike Oberg’s model that has four stages, these two writers have their models having an additional fifth stage. Pedersen calls this stage ‘interdependence’ while Cups refers to it as “walking and juggling.”

The improvements and alterations in Oberg’s theory of culture shock imply that other writers still look up to him as the person attributed to having coined the term ‘culture shock.’ The changes suggest that Oberg’s work attracted interest in a topic of study that was previously overlooked and understudied. According to Roskell, there is a large number of writers currently interested and carrying out research related to culture shock. The contribution of Oberg’s theory of culture shock to anthropology is manifested through the works of a new writer.

Moreover, updating and altering the theory of culture shock since its first appearance show that theories are subject to change over time. Since Oberg came up with the theory in 1954, it has undergone massive changes that have made it more insightful and enlightening in matters of culture shock. Apart from being an inspiration to other writers, Oberg’s work has helped diversify research on culture. More writers are now exploring other domains related to culture that was of less interest to scholars and researchers. Nellie argues that diversified research has contributed to culture theory altered to include more aspects relate to the contemporary world. For example, Oberg disregarded the issue of refugees in his theory but due to increased problems related to refugees, numerous researches and studies have been carried out relating the issue of refugees to culture shock. Therefore, though Oberg coined the term ‘culture shock’ and presented the theory of culture shock, his work has acted as a base on which more encompassing and more insightful studies have been based (Goldstein, 353). Also, Oberg’s theory of culture shock has contributed to the emergence of a new group of writers who researches solutions to culture shock. These writers have based their solutions according to the views Oberg presents in his theory of culture shock.

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Adaptation of Foreigners to New Conditions and New Culture. (2022, Apr 25). Retrieved from

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