Around the world, millions of people relocate and cross cultural or subcultural boundaries each year. Although unique in individual circumstances, all strangers in an unfamiliar environment embark on the common project of establishing and maintaining, over time, a relatively stable and reciprocal relationship with the host environment. Young Yun Kim explains this phenomenon in her crosscultural adaptation theory.

The theory is framed by three boundary conditions: (1) The strangers have had a primary socialization in one culture or subculture and have moved into a different and unfamiliar culture (or subculture), (2) they are at least minimally dependent on the host environment for meeting their personal and social needs, and (3) they are regularly engaged in firsthand communication experiences with that environment.

Kim laid the initial groundwork for this theory in 1976 in a study of Korean immigrants in the Chicago area, followed by a series of studies conducted among various other immigrant groups. A full-fledged theory was first presented in 1988, and a further updated and refined version in 2001. This theory has been widely utilized in research studies across social science disciplines including intercultural communication, mass communication, cross-cultural and social psychology, migration studies, education, social work, and business management.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.654

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Edwina Ayu Kustiawan