Theories Explain Border Migration Aspect of Intercultural Communication


            Studies have described intercultural communication to include values, thought-patterning, stereotypes, perceptions, organizational culture, nonverbal cues, mass media, linguistics and language, journalism, cross-cultural training and business, cognition, beliefs and attitudes. However, some scholars have argued that not all these factors can be accurately considered as intercultural communication (Kurekova, 2011). As a result, theoretical constructs have been developed to assist investigator to comprehensively understand intercultural communication. Many theories have been formulated to explain the aspects of intercultural communication. One aspect of intercultural communication is cross border migration and the perfect theories to explain intercultural communication happening as result of migration are the theories of migrations. These theories are macro-level theories (push/pull, world-systems, melting pot), micro-level theories (u-curve model of adaptation, w-curve model) and migrant-host relationship.

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Macro-level theories

Push-pull theory

            Push/pull theory is described as condition where the life circumstance and economic opportunity “pushes” people to migrate towards the path or destination that offers better opportunity. These better opportunities “pull’ the migrants towards it. There are historical incidences that have forced people to leave their country and seek better opportunities in other countries. For example, many African migrants have died in Red Sea as they cross to Europe to seek new opportunities (Kim, 2012). The life circumstance in some of the African countries are unbearable and as a result, the citizens of these countries move to Europe to seek better opportunities. Similarly, German Jews migrated to United Kingdom and United States after being liberated from concentration camps in Germany.

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World-systems theory

             This theory attempts to explains the migration based on factors happening in the world such as structure of global capitalism. For example, developed countries have more robust economy as compared to developing countries. The economic inequalities are attributed to colonization and it has led to migration flow from developing countries to developed countries (Fu, 2015). The second aspects are conditions whereby the global and national institution takes advantage of resources, labor and land of the developing countries to boost the growth of the developed countries. The third aspect is whereby the international financial institution such as IMF make certain countries inhabitable by creating scenarios that indirectly or directly affects the economy of the country. These factors cumulatively form world-systems and they make people to migrate from country of their origin to another.

Melting pot

            This theory explains a situation whereby migrant gels with the new culture because the they were allowed to blend or melt. The mainstream gives the migrants the opportunity to adopt the new culture in order to form a cohesive society. However, there are myths that are associated with this theory which a condition where the mainstream does not allow the migrants to melt and form a cohesive society (Kurekova, 2011). In addition, the mainstream may cast suspicions on the migrants who do not want to conform with norms of new culture. For example, a metaphor of U.S. society that the migrants’ adaptation to a new culture inevitably requires newcomers to “melt” or “blend” into the mainstream to form a cohesive whole.

Micro theories

U-curve model of adaptation

            This model of adaptation has three stages that anticipates a migrant should go through during process of melting and blending. The first step is anticipation which is an excitement in part of new migrant about the new culture. The second step is culture shock which is a situation whereby the migrants feel disoriented when confronted by unfamiliar environment brought by new culture (Kurekova, 2011). The third step is adjustment which is a process whereby the migrants learn to communicate verbal and nonverbal codes. The rate of adjustment depends on many factors such as gender, age, cultural similarity and desire to adopt new environment.

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W-curve model

            This model is one of the micro-level theories that attempted to highlight solutions related to challenges faced by migrants when gaining re-entry into one’s home culture. The re-entry shock comes when the migrants are attempting to re-enter the new culture. The other aspect is adjustment where the migrant needs to adjust in order to new culture (Kim, 2012). For example, when the migrant returns to their original country, they have undergone similar process they went through in U-curve model.

Migrant-host relationships

This theory is one of the micro-level theories and it depends on four factros: Assimilation, separation. Marginalization and integration. Assimilation is the process where the migrants are assimilated into the new culture. Some migrants may take the shortest time to get assimilated into the mainstream based on the relationship they have with the new culture. Separation is a different aspect because the migrants are separated from the mainstream (Fu, 2015). This makes the migrants to take longer period to blend or melt. Marginalization is a condition where the migrants are discriminated by the mainstream. The last factor is integration where the migrants are accepted and integrated into the mainstream. Based on these factors, migrants can freely and effectively communicate with the mainstream.

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