Consumer acculturation as a dialogical process: case studies from rural-to-urban migrants in Turkey
Consumer acculturation has received considerable research attention (e.g. Gentry et al 1995; Metha and Belk 1991; Oswald 1999; Penaloza 1989, 1994). Drawing mainly from literatures on acculturation, socialization and learning, these studies develop models that explain how consumers acquire and use consumption skills and practices while interacting with a new culture. Most of these studies concentrate on immigrants coming from less developed countries to the developed countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and investigate their adaptation to Western consumer cultural environment. Prominent in this literature is the model of acculturation strategies proposed by Berry (1980), which perceives acculturation as a linear process with four possible outcomes of assimilation, integration, separation, and marginalization. However, a few studies challenge the assimilationist view of acculturation and demonstrate that consumers can move between different social worlds without necessarily conforming to one culture (Askegaard, Arnould, and Kjelgaard 2005; Ger and Ostegaard 1998; Oswald 1999; Penaloza 1994). This perspective, which Askegaard et al (2005) refer to as ‘postassimilationist acculturation research’, regards consumer acculturation as a dynamic and multidimensional process that includes ongoing cultural negotiation or “culture swapping.” We aim to contribute to the existing literature by studying acculturation as a “dialogical process that involves a constant moving back and forth between incompatible cultural positions” (Bhatia 2002); we focus on rural-to-urban migrants’ experiences in a less developed country, Turkey. We seek to understand how these migrants negotiate and articulate their cultural identities through consumption practices related to the body and physical appearance.