Identity and acculturation: the case of naturalised citizens in Britain

Andreouli, Eleni (2013). Identity and acculturation: the case of naturalised citizens in Britain. Culture & Psychology, 19(2) pp. 165–183.



This paper advances a dialogical perspective on acculturation. Drawing on the theories of social representations and dialogical self, it conceptualises acculturation as a process of negotiation between different or conflicting social representations and identity positions. It is argued that, in order to understand acculturation, we need to explore how migrants represent different cultures and how they position themselves towards them. Drawing on 33 interviews with new British citizens, the paper examines how participants made sense of their place in Britain by studying the meanings of acculturation for participants themselves. In the interviews British culture was represented in a polyphasic way incorporating both negative and positive values. Therefore, acculturation represented both an enrichment of identity and an identity threat for many of the participants. Participants negotiated their position within this representational field by engaging in a dialogical negotiation between identity positions. The paper concludes that a dialogical approach to knowledge construction (social representations theory) and identity (dialogical self theory) provides appropriate theoretical tools for understanding acculturation as an ongoing process, not a single static outcome.

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