Friday, May 06, 2005

Children of Globalisation

If anyone has experienced third culture building, it must be the Third Culture Kids.

In the States there seems to have been a good deal of research going on, on what becomes of the children of expats, and especially, how do children who live a highly mobile life develop, and how does it influence their cultural identification? Children who have spent a number of their development years as expats are often referred to as either Third Culture Kids (TCKs) or Global Nomads - the former term referring to an interstitial "culture between cultures", the latter rather referring to the detachment of the individual to any physical location.

TCK Researchers David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken explain this process. Their book entitled "Third Culture Kids - The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds", and is written for the (American) expat community, so don't expect an especially scientific text, although easy and pleasing to read.

While Third Culture Building is theoretically possible for anyone to undergo (hence the emergence of TCAs - Third Culture Adults), Chen and Starosta mention a number of barriers that are to be overcome for this to happen successfully. Successful TCB happens through successful global listening, and for global listening to be successful, the interlocutors must first overcome any assumptions and truisms that they may have deeply indoctrinated within themselves through surroundings - e.g. censored TV.

Through one's developmental years, especially during the school age, we are especially susceptible to the cultural cues to which we are exposed; it is through these that we shape our way of understanding the world as adults. When brought up among cultures, we are constantly challenged with cultural cues from family at home, those from teachers and peers at school. Thus, our identity and sense of belonging is affected from dual or multiple frameworks of references, and we experience first-hand the cultural differences, tacit knowledges and behavioural cues, (the deep cultural elements)rather than merely interlocuting interculturally with people from other cultures. I'll end this post for now with the following quote by Peter Adler on the definition of a multicultural man (or woman):

The multicultural person is not simply the person who is sensitive to many different cultures. Rather, he is a person who is always in the process of becoming a part of and apart from a given cultural context.(...) He has no permanent cultural character but neither is he free from influences of culture. In the shifts and movement of his identity process, the multicultural man is continually recreating the symbol of himself. Peter S. Adler, Beyond Cultural Identity (quoted in Thorbjørn Hansen)

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