The purpose of this paper is to extend current conceptualizations of multicultural individuals by mapping the underlying elements of knowledge, identification, commitment and internalization as components of multicultural identity. It aims to extend discussions of how multicultural individuals manage their multiculturality.
The paper draws primarily on extant works on multicultural individuals and identity. The paper reviews a number of concepts relevant to multicultural identity to introduce the existence of a population called n-Culturals who represent a complex type that exists on one extreme of a continuum of multicultural identity. The paper derives a theory of n-Culturalism which represents a more nuanced theory of the multicultural identity.
n-Culturals recognizes that elements of multicultural identity exist within individuals to a greater or lesser extent and that their combination results in a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of multicultural identities. n-Culturalism extends current views that multicultural individuals maintain multiple saliences of their identities rather than switching modes to manage their multiculturality.
The conceptual nature of the paper implies that there are no existing empirical data apart from anecdotal examples; at the same time this fact provides ample opportunities to test the theory.
First, the findings provides an understanding of multiple cultural influences on acculturative stress and on performance across a range of domains as well as measuring multicultural identity. Second, by understanding the way in which n-Culturals develop the authors may gain valuable insights in modeling this process.
The paper develops a new theory of approaching the challenges faced by multicultural individuals, that is, how to manage their multiculturality. The theory goes beyond current views of switching modes or suppression, and suggests maintaining and balancing multiple identities.
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