Probing Identity, Integration and Adaptation: Big Questions, Little Answers

Published 2013. Contact: Colleen Ward


Integration occurs when migrants maintain their heritage culture and participate in their host culture. Research typically shows that integrated migrants have positive adjustment outcomes. This research reviews four studies to look at how migrants create their identity and integrate into host societies, how identity is conceptualized and measured, and when integration into the host society does not lead to positive outcomes.


A study of Muslim youth found that integration occurs when they balance their roles, relationships, and responsibilities. Achieving this balance is experienced as a process or journey.

Balance is achieved by alternating between heritage and host cultural identities in different settings or blending the identities by picking and choosing which parts of the cultures to adopt.

Migrants’ levels of integration have typically been measured by attitudes, behaviors, or identities. Research with Muslim youth found that religion is an important dimension of all three aspects and should be included in acculturation studies with Muslims.

Integration only leads to positive outcomes within certain social and political contexts. A study of Russian-speaking minorities in Estonia found that assimilation into the broader society led to the most positive outcomes.

You can access the article, "Probing Identity, Integration and Adaptation: Big Questions, Little Answers" here.