Conceptualizing the school acculturative context: School, classroom, and the immigrant student

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Introduction Schools are central for the development, enculturation, and adaptation of immigrants throughout the world. There are a variety of reasons that schools play such a key role: The school is a major arena for intergroup contact and acculturation; school adjustment is a primary task, and a highly important outcome, of the cultural transition process; schools tend to represent and introduce the new culture to immigrant children (Trickett & Birman, 2005), and many newcomers see schools as welcome avenues to participation and mobility (Vedder & Horenczyk, 2006). Thus, schools are highly important contexts, affecting in significant – sometimes crucial – ways the acculturation and adaptation of immigrant youth. Research on acculturation and adaptation of immigrants is increasingly recognizing the important, even essential, role of context for understanding the processes and outcomes involved in cultural transitions. According to Phinney et al. (2001), “ethnic and national identities and their role in adaptation can best be understood in terms of an interaction between the attitudes and characteristics of immigrants and the responses of the receiving society, moderated by the particular circumstances of the immigrant group within the new society” (494). With immigration patterns becoming more diversified and plural societies facing new challenges for the successful integration of immigrant youth, careful attention and analysis of these intergroup factors are needed in order to account for the richness and complexity of most acculturating contexts (Horenczyk, 2009).

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationRealizing the Potential of Immigrant Youth
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781139094696
ISBN (Print)9781107019508
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2012.


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