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Cultural Integration: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Introduction to Integration
  • 0:53 What Is Cultural Integration?
  • 1:40 Examples of Cultural…
  • 2:37 Pros & Cons of…
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Gaines Arnold
When you move to a place with a different culture, do you lose your own? This lesson discusses what cultural integration is through examples of people's experiences moving into a new culture, as well as pros and cons.

Introduction to Integration

When Sally (her American name) emigrated to the United States from China, she was worried about fitting into the culture. In reality, she worried for her children more than for herself. Sally had an uncle who ran a Chinese restaurant in San Luis Obispo and her family was going to live next to the restaurant.

At home the family continued to speak Mandarin and eat traditional Chinese dishes, but every day Sally cooked and served the United States version of her culture's food. Her children quickly learned English and integrated very well into the school they attended. Soon, the family was well-adjusted and happy. Sally learned something from this experience. People in the United States already had some knowledge and appreciation for her culture, and it was not as hard to get used to their new lives as she had imagined.

What Is Cultural Integration?

Sally was experiencing something termed cultural integration. This is when the people from a culture adopt the essence of another culture, such as its attitudes and ceremonies, while at the same time maintaining their own culture. This happens in many immigrant homes as a survival tool, regardless of where the individual moves to or is from. Individuals maintain the familiar, usually at home and the community, while they adopt the core practices of the new culture in public.

Another facet of cultural integration is people from other cultures introducing elements of their own culture to their new one. This can come in the form of music, food, attitudes, religion, arts and many other cultural characteristics. The next section provides some examples.

Examples of Cultural Integration

People generally value the culture in which they're raised and view the elements of that culture as comforts. Thus, when somebody moves to an area with a different culture, it's natural for them to introduce the characteristics they find comforting.

For example, there are many different types of restaurant choices in the United States that did not originate there. Chinese immigrants brought Chinese food, etc. The original religious beliefs in the United States were animistic, the belief that natural objects such as trees contain souls, but now every type of religious belief, no matter the culture of origin, is practiced. Foreign films have been adapted for American audiences and US films have been adapted for foreign markets.

When people think of cultural integration, they generally use it in the context of globalization. This means that the world is becoming ideologically smaller due to the increased ease of transportation and the influx of better means of communication.

Pros & Cons of Cultural Integration

Some people believe that this practice is harmful because it blurs the lines between cultures, whereas others see it as positive because it creates harmony between cultures.

Opponents of the practice also worry that cultural integration is just the imposition of a dominant culture on those that are weaker. For example, films and TV shows that promote U.S. culture are viewed around the world, which has an impact on the other cultures' values. This isn't to say that U.S. culture is stronger than other cultures, just that the ability to disseminate its culture is easier for a nation such as the U.S. This happened throughout the colonialism period also. It's also believed that this practice diminishes true multiculturalism and buries distinct cultures in the wash of a new global culture.

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