Prioritising family needs: a grounded theory of acculturation for sub-Saharan African migrant families in Australia

Akosah-Twumasi, Peter, Alele, Faith, Smith, Amy M., Emeto, Theophilus I., Lindsay, Daniel, Tsey, Komla, and Malau-Aduli, Bunmi S. (2020) Prioritising family needs: a grounded theory of acculturation for sub-Saharan African migrant families in Australia. Social Sciences, 9 (2). 17.

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Pre-existing acculturation models have focused on individual orientation and may not be fully applicable to African migrants due to their strong connection to family. In this study, we utilised qualitative semi-structured interviews to explore how 22 migrant families from eight sub-Saharan African representative countries: Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe, who now reside in Townsville, Australia experienced the acculturation process. Data were analysed at the family unit level using the three steps of grounded theory method: open, axial and selective coding. The theory derived illustrates that the acculturation process involves two major phases (maintaining core moral values and attaining a sense of belonging) within which six categories were identified. Three of the categories were related to deeply held heritage values and beliefs (family relationships, societal expectations and cultural norms), while the other three (religious beliefs, socio-economic gains and educational values) indicated integration with the host culture. These categories constitute central concerns for the participants and demonstrate what matters to them as a family unit and not as individuals. We conclude that a selective process of "prioritising family needs" determines the acculturation strategy of sub-Saharan African migrant families, aiding the fulfilment of their migration goals, ensuring effective functioning of the family unit, and enabling them to be productive members of their local community.

Item ID: 63111
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2076-0760
Keywords: individualistic; collectivist; cultural values; acculturation strategy; sub-Saharan Africa; family needs; grounded theory
Copyright Information: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open accessarticle distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY) license (
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 22:15
FoR Codes: 39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390401 Comparative and cross-cultural education @ 50%
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470211 Migrant cultural studies @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920503 Health Related to Specific Ethnic Groups @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930104 Moral and Social Development (incl. Affect) @ 50%
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