Proximal and Remote Acculturation: Adolescents’ Perspectives of Biculturalism in Two Contexts

Gail M. Ferguson, Maria I. Iturbide, Marcela Raffaelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Immigration and globalization are at historic highs, making biculturalism, whether by way of immigration-based proximal acculturation or globalization-based remote acculturation, increasingly commonplace for adolescents. Using focus group interviews, this qualitative study explored Latinx adolescents’ (n = 19, 13-19 years) views of proximal biculturalism in the United States, and Jamaican adolescents’ (n = 15, 13-18 years) views of remote biculturalism in Jamaica in terms of the existence, adaptive value, and challenges of biculturalism. Findings of thematic analyses revealed that both groups of adolescents viewed biculturalism as possible in their respective contexts although differences in processes and mechanisms were evident. In addition, youth in both contexts saw biculturalism as beneficial for social and practical reasons. Finally, both groups acknowledged challenges related to biculturalism; however, internal conflicts based on physical appearance was a theme of discussion only among U.S. Latinxs, whereas problems fitting in were primary concerns for Jamaicans. Studying the similarities (and differences) between proximal and remote biculturalism can enrich biculturalism theory, and doing so from the adolescent point of view has important practical value by providing a fuller understanding of the experience of biculturalism among youth who are developing ethnic/cultural identities and planning their futures in diversifying cultural environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-460
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Miguel A. Carranza, Rachel Hayes, Karina Ruiz Vargas, Katie Clear, Jennifer Jarret, Joanna Simpson, Sandra I. Plata-Potter, and Taylor Lindbom for assistance with data collection and analysis. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported in part by the Center for Great Plains Studies Research Grant-in-Aid for Graduate Students and by the University of Nebraska?Lincoln?s Department of Psychology?s Warden Research Fellowship. Support for manuscript preparation was provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project ILLU-793-313 (to M.R.) and Hatch project ILLU-793-385 (to G.F.).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • American culture
  • Jamaica
  • Latinx culture
  • acculturation
  • adolescent perspectives
  • biculturalism


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