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Social Networks and Acculturation of the East-West Center Student Community

May 9, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Mānoa Campus, Burns Hall, East-West Center, Room #2121/2125

Abstract: Research about acculturation suggests that integration strategy adopted by both the host community and the newcomers will result in positive outcomes such as less stress and better psychological well-being (Berry, Kim, etc.). However, it is hard to measure or test such propositions due to rareness of exemplary cases and methodological issues. This study selects the East West Center community as a successful case and applies Social Network Analysis (SNA) as an innovative approach to investigate the integration phenomenon in this multicultural community. The goal is to show the characteristics of social networks formed among people from different countries and regions, the acquired structural property from network positions and its impacts on cross-cultural adaptation.

Data are collected from both online survey and interviews. Over 50% current participants provided their social network data via survey forms and one fifth of them were interviewed. Two full-networks based on socializing and close-friend relationship are constructed for this community. The findings suggest that this community is well-connected regardless of cultural differences. There is no significant homophily effects in gender, but physical closeness and language and cultural similarity matter. Different cultural groups also demonstrate different structural features in terms of cohesion, clustering, and density. In general, participants score high on both socio-cultural adaptation and psychological well-being scales, which supports the claim of the positive correlation between integration strategy and acculturation outcomes. The study also shows that the distinction of host and home cultural contacts is not necessarily a good predictor for adaptation status if a full social network is considered. Practically, such findings can provide insights for designing intervention programs and cultural policies to facilitate intercultural integration in face of the diversity trend in the world.

Methodologically, it also illustrates the benefits of applying social network analysis to acculturation research by combining macro- and micro-level frameworks as well as quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Event Sponsor
East-West Center, Mānoa Campus

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