Acculturation in a globalised world: Implications for theory and educational policy and practice

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Purpose - This article examines the existing body of knowledge on acculturation, identifies the gaps, discusses its potential consequences for theory and proposes a possible way forward for educational policy and practice in the globalised world.
Design/methodology/approach - The body of knowledge on acculturation has developed tremendously during the last century. However, some scholars are critical of its impact on acculturating people, particularly in the societies of settlement. This paper adopted an integrative literature review approach to critique and synthesise the published text on acculturation and education in the era of globalisation.
Findings - Despite phenomenal growth in acculturation research and theory, the dominant perspectives and research methodologies hardly help to respond to the emerging trends in intercultural contact and its associated issues in education. A culture learning approach to the study of acculturation can help address the existing gaps, extend the theory, draw contextualised conclusions and take appropriate steps in education to prepare younger generations for an interconnected and interdependent world.
Research limitations/implications - Researchers and practitioners in education may need to be sensitive to the sociopolitical realities in a given context and contextualise their educational endeavours in preparing younger generations for an ever-changing social world.
Practical implications - This narrative review suggests that an intercultural learning approach to education in contemporary times may better facilitate acculturation processes amongst immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Educational systems in multicultural societies may need to undertake context-specific interventions for immigrant children and adolescents in helping them acculturate to the societies of their settlement.
Social implications - An intercultural approach to education in general and social studies education, in particular, can help younger generations better respond to the emerging trends of acculturation in the multicultural societies of their residence.
Originality/value - Given that young people follow diverse trajectories of acculturation, irrespective of their status of immigration, researchers in cross-cultural studies may need to reflect on existing theories, approaches, frameworks and methodologies with greater sensitiveness to the ecological context, cultural distance hypothesis and the nature of intercultural contact for a deeper understanding of immigrants' acculturation in plural societies. Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-58
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Education and Development
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021


Karim, S. (2021). Acculturation in a globalised world: Implications for theory and educational policy and practice. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 23(1), 44-58. doi: 10.1108/IJCED-11-2020-0078


  • Globalisation
  • Intercultural contact
  • Acculturation
  • Culture learning
  • Education


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