A tale of two cities: replication of a study on the acculturation and adaptation of immigrant adolescents from the former Soviet Union in a different community context

Am J Community Psychol. 2005 Mar;35(1-2):83-101. doi: 10.1007/s10464-005-1891-y.


While a great deal of research has been conducted to understand acculturation and its relationship to adaptation in the new country, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the ways in which the characteristics of the local community impact these processes. The present study addresses this gap in the literature by exploring the potential role of community differences in the acculturation and adaptation processes of 269 refugee and immigrant adolescents from the former Soviet Union who resettled in two different community contexts. Specifically, a prior study on acculturation and adjustment among high school students (D. Birman, E. J. Trickett, & A. Vinokurov, 2002) was replicated with the same émigré population in a contrasting community within the same state. The contrast between these communities allowed us to test hypotheses emerging from an ecological perspective concerning (1) patterns of acculturation, (2) levels of discrimination and its effect on acculturative outcomes, and (3) community differences in the relationship between acculturation and outcomes. In addition to the focus on community differences, the study also employs a multidimensional measure of acculturation and assesses acculturation to both American and Russian culture. Furthermore, adaptation is assessed across different life domains; including peer relationships, family relationships, school adaptation, and psychological adaptation. Findings support the general ecological perspective, suggesting the importance of studying acculturation and adaptation as a reflexive process in which culture and context are very much intertwined.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude / ethnology*
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Adjustment*
  • USSR / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population*