4.3.1 U-curve

The U-curve model for adjustment was first introduced by a Norwegian sociologist Sverre Lysgaard in 1955, and it has been developed by other scholars during the following decades (e.g. Oberg, 1960; Chang, 1973). According to this model, the adaptation process goes through four stages:

  • honeymoon period
  • crisis period
  • adjustment period
  • biculturalism period.


When migrants return to their home countries, they often have to go through a similar kind of adaptation process. Scholars refer to this with a W-curve model, where the second curve is meant to describe the re-entry shock and readjustment. This process is sometimes even more difficult, since people don't expect any culture shock when returning home. The re-entry shock can be described as a set of unmet expectations from both the migrant and the environment, which used to be familiar to him/her.

While one has been staying abroad, there may have been changes in the home country's political situation, technology, or popular culture, for instance. Friends and family are maybe not the same any more, and also the migrant is probably a different person after having spent some years in a different environment - even if people would expect him/her to be the same. After adapting to a new culture, it is actually natural to feel disintegration with home culture. It is all part of the process.

© Maria El Said, 2006


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