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Cultural dissonance


Cultural dissonance (education, sociology, anthropology and cultural studies) is an uncomfortable sense of discord, disharmony, confusion, or conflict experienced by people in the midst of change in their cultural environment. The changes are often unexpected, unexplained or not understandable due to various types of cultural dynamics.

Studies into cultural dissonance take on a wide socio-cultural scope of analysis that inquire into economics, politics, values, learning styles, cultural factors, such as language, tradition, ethnicity, cultural heritage, cultural history, educational formats, classroom design, and even socio-cultural issues such as ethnocentricism, racism and their respective historical legacies in the cultures.

Research topics in cultural dissonance tend to be interdisciplinary drawing from a wide range of disciplines and applying the findings to equally diverse fields and industries.

Edwar J. Hedican wrote an article in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at the University of Guelph, Ontario. In it he noted the possibility of alleviating acculturative pressures, and their disruptive effects on the sense of aboriginal sense of worth and identity. He proposed, "...the development of interethnic communication or ethnopolitics of community competence. This, in turn, will lead to increased native control over educational, economic, & political institutions, decreased cultural dissonance, & a more positive native identity." (Hedican)

Paul Bohannan wrote an "anthropological treatise" outlining "Seven organizing principles unique to humans: contract, role, ranking property, markets, networks, & public relations. These characteristics are built on to analyze dyads, triads, & chains, to show how innovation, as well as how cultural dissonance can lead to cultural traps." (Bohannan)



  • Geneva Gay (University of Washington in Seattle, Washington), proposed that differences can erupt into cultural clashes
  • Researchers at the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory notes that many anecdotal case studies show how culturally responsive practices improve students' behavior and achievement.
  • Architecture and Urban studies (book review)
    • Mapping the Future Research Magazine. Virginia Tech. College of Architecture and Urban Studies
  • Law (Law enforcement)
    • Indigenous People Policing Indigenous People: The Potential Psychological and Cultural Costs. Gould, Larry A. The Social Science Journal, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 171–188, Apr 2002
  • Psychiatry
    • [The Presidential Address: Cultural Dissonance and Psychiatry] American Journal of Psychiatry. Am J Psychiatry 127:1-8, July 1970 doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.127.1.1. American Psychiatric Association. (membership required to access full materials)
  • Sociology
    • Shorline Blurb. Return to books (book review) From The Caribbean Journal of Social Work. Vol 2/July 2003, pp 148–152. ISSN 0799-1215 @ Association of Caribbean Social Work Educators
    • Representing Slavery: A Roundtable Discussion. A. J. Verdelle; Karen Sutton; David Blight; Alex Bontemps; Shane White and Graham White.. History Cooperative. Common Place. vol. 1 · no. 4 · July 2001
    • Migration: Generational Discontinuities and the Making of Latino Identities. Suarez-Orozco, Carola; Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo. (1995). ETHNIC IDENTITY (pp. 321–347). Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
    • On the Ethno-Politics of Canadian Native Leadership and Identity. Hedican, Edward J. Ethnic Groups, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1–15, 1991
    • Immigrant Youth: Strategies to Manage Cultural Dissonance. Montazer, Zahra. Dissertation Abstracts International, A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 130-A, July 1998
  • Sports
    • Taylor, Tracy. The Rhetoric of Exclusion: Perspectives of Cultural Diversity in Australian Netball. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 453–476, Nov 2004
  • Mapping the Future Research Magazine. Virginia Tech. College of Architecture and Urban Studies
  • Indigenous People Policing Indigenous People: The Potential Psychological and Cultural Costs. Gould, Larry A. The Social Science Journal, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 171–188, Apr 2002
  • [The Presidential Address: Cultural Dissonance and Psychiatry] American Journal of Psychiatry. Am J Psychiatry 127:1-8, July 1970 doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.127.1.1. American Psychiatric Association. (membership required to access full materials)
  • Shorline Blurb. Return to books (book review) From The Caribbean Journal of Social Work. Vol 2/July 2003, pp 148–152. ISSN 0799-1215 @ Association of Caribbean Social Work Educators
  • Representing Slavery: A Roundtable Discussion. A. J. Verdelle; Karen Sutton; David Blight; Alex Bontemps; Shane White and Graham White.. History Cooperative. Common Place. vol. 1 · no. 4 · July 2001
  • Migration: Generational Discontinuities and the Making of Latino Identities. Suarez-Orozco, Carola; Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo. (1995). ETHNIC IDENTITY (pp. 321–347). Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
  • On the Ethno-Politics of Canadian Native Leadership and Identity. Hedican, Edward J. Ethnic Groups, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1–15, 1991
  • Immigrant Youth: Strategies to Manage Cultural Dissonance. Montazer, Zahra. Dissertation Abstracts International, A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 130-A, July 1998
  • Taylor, Tracy. The Rhetoric of Exclusion: Perspectives of Cultural Diversity in Australian Netball. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 453–476, Nov 2004
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