Globalization, migration, and increasing cultural diversity within nations have resulted in a growing need to understand and enhance intercultural relations in plural societies. The purpose of this chapter on relations between immigrants and host societies is to highlight current trends and new advances in the study of acculturation and intergroup relations. To accomplish this, the chapter provides an overview of migration and cultural diversity across four major geographical regions; describes the evolution of acculturation theory, models, and research; briefly reviews the developments in the application of social-psychological theory to the study of immigration and intergroup relations; discusses the convergence of these two approaches; offers suggestions on how applied social psychology may help to solve intercultural problems; and makes recommendations for the course of future research.
Migration and cultural diversity in the twenty-first century
It is estimated that in 2010 there were 214 million international migrants on a worldwide basis. Western Europe currently hosts the largest number (over 40 million), which is about 8 per cent of its population. However, relative to the total population, Oceania (15 per cent) and North America (13 per cent) are world leaders. Brief synopses of their immigration trends and issues are presented in the following sections.
• The United States (313 million inhabitants) has been culturally dominated by European Americans for centuries, while African-Americans formed the largest minority. Remarkably, African-Americans have recently been surpassed by Americans with a Hispanic background who – numbering more than 40 million – now form over 13 per cent of the population. Hispanics continue to migrate to the US and have a higher birth rate than Americans of European descent. After Mexico and Spain, the US has the world's largest Spanish-speaking population. Within 50 years, Hispanics will form a quarter of the US population. We may safely predict that the US is becoming a country with two powerful cultures, the Anglo-Western and the Hispanic culture, and two important languages, English and Spanish.
• In Western Europe (342 million inhabitants) the situation is more diverse, because each country has its own language and its particular immigration history. In the 1960s, when economic growth in Western Europe led to a scarcity of labour, many ‘guest workers’ from the Mediterranean countries moved to Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.