Acculturation is a process of social, psychological, and cultural change that stems from the balancing of two cultures while adapting to the prevailing culture of the society. Acculturation is a process in which an individual adopts, acquires and adjusts to a new cultural environment.[ citation needed ] Individuals of a differing culture try to incorporate themselves into the new more prevalent culture by participating in aspects of the more prevalent culture, such as their traditions, but still hold onto their original cultural values and traditions. The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both the devotee of the prevailing culture and those who are assimilating into the culture.
At this group level, acculturation often results in changes to culture, religious practices, health care, and other social institutions. There are also significant ramifications on the food, clothing, and language of those becoming introduced to the overarching culture.
At the individual level, the process of acculturation refers to the socialization process by which foreign-born individuals blend the values, customs, norms, cultural attitudes, and behaviors of the overarching host culture. This process has been linked to changes in daily behaviour, as well as numerous changes in psychological and physical well-being. As enculturation is used to describe the process of first-culture learning, acculturation can be thought of as second-culture learning.
Under normal circumstances that are seen commonly in today's society, the process of acculturation normally occurs over a large span of time throughout a few generations. Physical force can be seen in some instances of acculturation, which can cause it to occur more rapidly, but it is not a main component of the process. More commonly, the process occurs through social pressure or constant exposure to the more prevalent host culture.
Scholars in different disciplines have developed more than 100 different theories of acculturation,but the concept of acculturation has only been studied scientifically since 1918. As it has been approached at different times from the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology, numerous theories and definitions have emerged to describe elements of the acculturative process. Despite definitions and evidence that acculturation entails a two-way process of change, research and theory have primarily focused on the adjustments and adaptations made by minorities such as immigrants, refugees, and indigenous people in response to their contact with the dominant majority. Contemporary research has primarily focused on different strategies of acculturation, how variations in acculturation affect individuals, and interventions to make this process easier.
The history of Western civilization, and in particular the histories of Europe and the United States, are largely defined by patterns of acculturation.
One of the most notable forms of acculturation is imperialism, the most common progenitor of direct cultural change. Although these cultural changes may seem simple, the combined results are both robust and complex, impacting both groups and individuals from the original culture and the host culture.
The first psychological theory of acculturation was proposed in W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki's 1918 study, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America . From studying Polish immigrants in Chicago, they illustrated three forms of acculturation corresponding to three personality types: Bohemian (adopting the host culture and abandoning their culture of origin), Philistine (failing to adopt the host culture but preserving their culture of origin), and creative-type (able to adapt to the host culture while preserving their culture of origin).In 1936, Redfield, Linton, and Herskovits provided the first widely used definition of acculturation as:
Those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups...under this definition acculturation is to be distinguished from...assimilation, which is at times a phase of acculturation.
Long before efforts toward racial and cultural integration in the United States arose, the common process was assimilation. In 1954, Milton Gordon's book Assimilation in American Life outlined seven stages of the assimilative process, setting the stage for literature on this topic. Later, Young Yun Kim authored a reiteration of Gordon's work, but argued cross-cultural adaptation as a multi-staged process. Kim's theory focused on the unitary nature of psychological and social processes and the reciprocal functional personal environment interdependence.Although this view was the earliest to fuse micro-psychological and macro-social factors into an integrated theory, it is clearly focused on assimilation rather than racial or ethnic integration. In Kim's approach, assimilation is unilinear and the sojourner must conform to the majority group culture in order to be "communicatively competent." According to Gudykunst and Kim (2003) the "cross-cultural adaptation process involves a continuous interplay of deculturation and acculturation that brings about change in strangers in the direction of assimilation, the highest degree of adaptation theoretically conceivable." This view has been heavily criticized, since the biological science definition of adaptation refers to the random mutation of new forms of life, not the convergence of a monoculture (Kramer, 2003).
In contradistinction from Gudykunst and Kim's version of adaptive evolution, Eric M. Kramer developed his theory of Cultural Fusion (2011,2010, 2000a, 1997a, 2000a, 2011, 2012 ) maintaining clear, conceptual distinctions between assimilation, adaptation, and integration. According to Kramer, assimilation involves conformity to a pre-existing form. Kramer's (2000a, 2000b, 2000c, 2003, 2009, 2011) theory of Cultural Fusion, which is based on systems theory and hermeneutics, argues that it is impossible for a person to unlearn themselves and that by definition, "growth" is not a zero sum process that requires the disillusion of one form for another to come into being but rather a process of learning new languages and cultural repertoires (ways of thinking, cooking, playing, working worshiping, and so forth). In other words, Kramer argues that one need not unlearn a language in order to learn a new one, nor does one have to unlearn who one is in order to learn new ways of dancing, cooking, talking and so forth. Unlike Gudykunst and Kim (2003), Kramer argues that this blending of language and culture results in cognitive complexity, or the ability to switch between cultural repertoires. To put Kramer's ideas simply, learning is growth rather than unlearning.
Although numerous models of acculturation exist, the most complete models take into consideration the changes occurring at the group and individual levels of both interacting groups.To understand acculturation at the group level, one must first look at the nature of both cultures before coming into contact with one another. A useful approach is Eric Kramer's theory of Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation (DAD). Two fundamental premises in Kramer's DAD theory are the concepts of hermeneutics and semiotics, which infer that identity, meaning, communication, and learning all depend on differences or variance. According to this view, total assimilation would result in a monoculture void of personal identity, meaning, and communication. Kramer's DAD theory also utilizes concepts from several scholars, most notably Jean Gebser and Lewis Mumford, to synthesize explanations of widely observed cultural expressions and differences.
Kramer's theory identifies three communication styles (idolic, symbolic, or signalic ) in order to explain cultural differences. It is important to note that in this theory, no single mode of communication is inherently superior, and no final solution to intercultural conflict is suggested. Instead, Kramer puts forth three integrated theories: the theory Dimensional Accrual and Dissociation, the Cultural Fusion Theoryand the Cultural Churning Theory.
For instance, according to Kramer's DAD theory, a statue of a god in an idolic community literally is god, and stealing it is a highly punishable offense.For example, many people in India believe that statues of the god Ganesh – to take such a statue/god from its temple is more than theft, it is blasphemy. Idolic reality involves strong emotional identification, where a holy relic does not simply symbolize the sacred, it is sacred. By contrast, a Christian crucifix follows a symbolic nature, where it represents a symbol of God. Lastly, the signalic modality is far less emotional and increasingly dissociated.
Kramer refers to changes in each culture due to acculturation as co-evolution.Kramer also addresses what he calls the qualities of out vectors which address the nature in which the former and new cultures make contact. Kramer uses the phrase "interaction potential" to refer to differences in individual or group acculturative processes. For example, the process of acculturation is markedly different if one is entering the host as an immigrant or as a refugee. Moreover, this idea encapsulates the importance of how receptive a host culture is to the newcomer, how easy is it for the newcomer to interact with and get to know the host, and how this interaction affects both the newcomer and the host.
The fourfold model is a bilinear model that categorizes acculturation strategies along two dimensions. The first dimension concerns the retention or rejection of an individual's minority or native culture (i.e. "Is it considered to be of value to maintain one's identity and characteristics?"), whereas the second dimension concerns the adoption or rejection of the dominant group or host culture. ("Is it considered to be of value to maintain relationships with the larger society?") From this, four acculturation strategies emerge.
Studies suggest that individuals' respective acculturation strategy can differ between their private and public life spheres.For instance, an individual may reject the values and norms of the dominant culture in his private life (separation), whereas he might adapt to the dominant culture in public parts of his life (i.e., integration or assimilation).
The fourfold models used to describe individual attitudes of immigrants parallel models used to describe group expectations of the larger society and how groups should acculturate.In a melting pot society, in which a harmonious and homogenous culture is promoted, assimilation is the endorsed acculturation strategy. In segregationist societies, in which humans are separated into racial, ethnic and/or religious groups in daily life, a separation acculturation strategy is endorsed. In a multiculturalist society, in which multiple cultures are accepted and appreciated, individuals are encouraged to adopt an integrationist approach to acculturation. In societies where cultural exclusion is promoted, individuals often adopt marginalization strategies of acculturation.
Attitudes towards acculturation, and thus the range of acculturation strategies available, have not been consistent over time. For example, for most of American history, policies and attitudes have been based around established ethnic hierarchies with an expectation of one-way assimilation for predominantly White European immigrants.Although the notion of cultural pluralism has existed since the early 20th century, the recognition and promotion of multiculturalism did not become prominent in America until the 1980s. Separatism can still be seen today in autonomous religious communities such as the Amish and the Hutterites. Immediate environment also impacts the availability, advantage, and selection of different acculturation strategies. As individuals immigrate to unequal segments of society, immigrants to areas lower on economic and ethnic hierarchies may encounter limited social mobility and membership to a disadvantaged community.
On a broad scale study, involving immigrants in 13 immigration-receiving countries, the experience of discrimination was positively related to the maintenance of the immigrants' ethnic culture.In other words, immigrants that maintain their cultural practices and values are more likely to be discriminated against than those whom abandon their culture.
Most individuals show variation in both their ideal and chosen acculturation strategies across different domains of their lives. For example, among immigrants, it is often easier and more desired to acculturate to their host society's attitudes towards politics and government, than it is to acculturate to new attitudes about religion, principles, values, and customs.
The large flux of migrants around the world has sparked scholarly interest in acculturation, and how it can specifically affect health by altering levels of stress, access to health resources, and attitudes towards health.The effects of acculturation on physical health is thought to be a major factor in the immigrant paradox, which argues that first generation immigrants tend to have better health outcomes than non-immigrants. Although this term has been popularized, most of the academic literature supports the opposite conclusion, or that immigrants have poorer health outcomes than their host culture counterparts.
One prominent explanation for the negative health behaviors and outcomes (e.g. substance use, low birth weight) associated with the acculturation process is the acculturative stress theory.Acculturative stress refers to the stress response of immigrants in response to their experiences of acculturation. Stressors can include but are not limited to the pressures of learning a new language, maintaining one's native language, balancing differing cultural values, and brokering between native and host differences in acceptable social behaviors. Acculturative stress can manifest in many ways, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other forms of mental and physical maladaptation. Stress caused by acculturation has been heavily documented in phenomenological research on the acculturation of a large variety of immigrants. This research has shown that acculturation is a "fatiguing experience requiring a constant stream of bodily energy," and is both an "individual and familial endeavor" involving "enduring loneliness caused by seemingly insurmountable language barriers".
One important distinction when it comes to risk for acculturative stress is degree of willingness, or migration status, which can differ greatly if one enters a country as a voluntary immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker, or sojourner. According to several studies,voluntary migrants experience roughly 50% less acculturative stress than refugees, making this an important distinction. According to Schwartz (2010), there are four main categories of migrants:
This type of entry distinction is important, but acculturative stress can also vary significantly within and between ethnic groups. Much of the scholarly work on this topic has focused on Asian and Latino/a immigrants, however more research is needed on the effects of acculturative stress on other ethnic immigrant groups. Among U.S. Latinos, higher levels of adoption of the American host culture has been associated with negative effects on health behaviors and outcomes, such as increased risk for depression and discrimination, and increased risk for low self-esteem.However, some individuals also report "finding relief and protection in relationships" and "feeling worse and then feeling better about oneself with increased competencies" during the acculturative process. Again, these differences can be attributed to the age of the immigrant, the manner in which an immigrant exited their home country, and how the immigrant is received by the both the original and host cultures. Recent research has compared the acculturative processes of documented Mexican-American immigrants and undocumented Mexican-American immigrants and found significant differences in their experiences and levels of acculturative stress. Both groups of Mexican-American immigrants faced similar risks for depression and discrimination from the host (Americans), but the undocumented group of Mexican-American immigrants also faced discrimination, hostility, and exclusion by their own ethnic group (Mexicans) because of their unauthorized legal status. These studies highlight the complexities of acculturative stress, the degree of variability in health outcomes, and the need for specificity over generalizations when discussing potential or actual health outcomes.
Researchers recently uncovered another layer of complications in this field, where survey data has either combined several ethnic groups together or has labeled an ethnic group incorrectly. When these generalizations occur, nuances and subtleties about a person or group's experience of acculturation or acculturative stress can be diluted or lost. For example, much of the scholarly literature on this topic uses U.S. Census data. The Census correctly labels Arab-Americans as Caucasian or "White".By doing so, this data set omits many factors about the Muslim Arab-American migrant experience, including but not limited to acculturation and acculturative stress. This is of particular importance after the events of September 11, 2001, since Muslim Arab-Americans have faced increased prejudice and discrimination, leaving this religious ethnic community with an increased risk of acculturative stress. Research focusing on the adolescent Muslim Arab American experience of acculturation has also found that youth who experience acculturative stress during the identity formation process are at a higher risk for low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Some researchers argue that education, social support, hopefulness about employment opportunities, financial resources, family cohesion, maintenance of traditional cultural values, and high socioeconomic status (SES) serve as protections or mediators against acculturative stress. Previous work shows that limited education, low SES, and underemployment all increase acculturative stress.Since this field of research is rapidly growing, more research is needed to better understand how certain subgroups are differentially impacted, how stereotypes and biases have influenced former research questions about acculturative stress, and the ways in which acculturative stress can be effectively mediated.
When individuals of a certain culture are exposed to another culture (host) that is primarily more present in the area that they live, some aspects of the host culture will likely be taken and blended within aspects of the original culture of the individuals. In situations of continuous contact, cultures have exchanged and blended foods, music, dances, clothing, tools, and technologies. Cultural exchange can either occur naturally through extended contact, or more quickly though cultural appropriation or cultural imperialism.
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by members a different cultural group. It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and art, religion, language, or behavior.These elements are typically imported into the existing culture, and may have wildly different meanings or lack the subtleties of their original cultural context. Because of this, cultural appropriation for monetary gain is typically viewed negatively, and has sometimes been called "cultural theft".
Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting the culture or language of one nation in another, usually occurring in situations in which assimilation is the dominant strategy of acculturation.Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active, formal policy or a general attitude regarding cultural superiority.
In some instances, acculturation results in the adoption of another country's language, which is then modified over time to become a new, distinct, language. For example, Hanzi, the written language of Chinese language, has been adapted and modified by other nearby cultures, including: Japan (as kanji), Korea (as hanja), and Vietnam (as hán tự). Jews, often living as ethnic minorities, developed distinct languages derived from the common languages of the countries in which they lived (for example, Yiddish from High German and Ladino from Old Spanish). Another common effect of acculturation on language is the formation of pidgin languages. Pidgin is a mixed language that has developed to help communication between members of different cultures in contact, usually occurring in situations of trade or colonialism.For example, Pidgin English is a simplified form of English mixed with some of the language of another culture. Some pidgin languages can develop into creole languages, which are spoken as a first language.
Food habits and food consumption are affected by acculturation on different levels. Research indicated that food habits are discreet and practiced privately, and change occurs slowly. Consumption of new food items is affected by the availability of native ingredients, convenience and cost; therefore, an immediate change is likely to occur.Aspects of food acculturation include the preparation, presentation and consumption of food. Different cultures have different ways in which they prepare, serve and eat their food. When exposed to another culture for an extended period of time, individuals tend to take aspects of the "host" culture's food customs and implement them with their own. In cases such as these, acculturation is heavily influenced by general food knowledge, or knowing the unique kinds of food different cultures traditionally have, the media, and social interaction. It allows for different cultures to be exposed to one another, causing some aspects to intertwine and also become more acceptable to the individuals of each of the respective cultures.
Anthropologists make a semantic distinction between group and individual levels of acculturation. In such instances, the term transculturation is used to define individual foreign-origin acculturation, and occurs on a smaller scale with less visible impact. Scholars making this distinction use the term "acculturation" only to address large-scale cultural transactions. Acculturation, then, is the process by which migrants gain new information and insight about the normals and values of the culture and adapt their behaviors to the host culture.
Most research seems to indicate that the integrationist model of acculturation leads to the most favorable psychological outcomesand marginalization to the least favorable. An initial meta-analysis of the acculturation literature found these results to be unclear. However, a more thorough meta-analysis of 40 studies showed that integration was indeed found to have a "significant, weak, and positive relationship with psychological and sociocultural adjustment". There are many factors that can explain the differences in these findings, including how different the two interacting cultures are, and degree of integration difficulty (bicultural identity integration). These types of factors partially explain why general statements about approaches to acculturation are not sufficient in predicting successful adaptation. As research in this area has expanded, one study has identified marginalization as being a maladaptive acculturation strategy.
Several theorists have stated that the fourfold models of acculturation are too simplistic to have predictive validity.Some common criticisms of such models include the fact that individuals don't often fall neatly into any of the four categories, and that there is very little evidence for the applied existence of the marginalization acculturation strategy. In addition, the bi-directionality of acculturation means that whenever two groups are engaged in cultural exchange, there are 16 permutations of acculturation strategies possible (e.g. an integrationist individual within an assimilationist host culture). The interactive acculturation model represents one proposed alternative to the typological approach by attempting to explain the acculturation process within a framework of state policies and the dynamic interplay of host community and immigrant acculturation orientations.
Transculturation is a term coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in 1940 to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging cultures.
Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one's own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply transition to another type of life. One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment. Culture shock can be described as consisting of at least one of four distinct phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation.
Cultural identity is the identity or feeling of belonging to a group. It is part of a person's self-conception and self-perception and is related to nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality or any kind of social group that has its own distinct culture. In this way, cultural identity is both characteristic of the individual but also of the culturally identical group of members sharing the same cultural identity or upbringing.
Cultural Assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a dominant group or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group. A conceptualization describes cultural assimilation as similar to acculturation while another merely considers the former as one of the latter's phases. Assimilation could also involve the so-called additive acculturation wherein, instead of replacing the ancestral culture, an individual expands their existing cultural repertoire.
Intercultural communication is a discipline that studies communication across different cultures and social groups, or how culture affects communication. It describes the wide range of communication processes and problems that naturally appear within an organization or social context made up of individuals from different religious, social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. In this sense it seeks to understand how people from different countries and cultures act, communicate and perceive the world around them.
Forced assimilation is an involuntary process of cultural assimilation of religious or ethnic minority groups during which they are forced to adopt language, identity, norms, mores, customs, traditions, values, mentality, perceptions, way of life, and often religion and ideology of established and generally larger community belonging to dominant culture by government. Also enforcement of a new language in legislation, education, literature, worshiping counts as forced assimilation. Unlike ethnic cleansing, the local population is not outright genocide and may or may not be forced to leave a certain area. Instead the population becomes assimilated by force. It has often been used after an area has changed nationality, often in the aftermath of war. Some examples are both the German and French forced assimilation in the provinces Alsace and Lorraine, and some decades after the Swedish conquests of the Danish provinces Scania, Blekinge and Halland the local population was submitted to forced assimilation. Forced assimilation is also called cultural genocide and ethnocide.
The uncertainty reduction theory, also known as initial interaction theory, developed in 1975 by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese, is a communication theory from the post-positivist tradition. It is one of the only communication theories that specifically looks into the initial interaction between people prior to the actual communication process. The theory asserts the notion that, when interacting, people need information about the other party in order to reduce their uncertainty. In gaining this information people are able to predict the other's behavior and resulting actions, all of which according to the theory is crucial in the development of any relationship.
Cultural psychology is the study of how cultures reflect and shape the psychological processes of their members.
Intercultural competence is a range of cognitive, affective, and behavioural skills that lead to effective and appropriate communication with people of other cultures. Effective intercultural communication relates to behaviors that culminate with the accomplishment of the desired goals of the interaction and all parties involved in the situation. Appropriate intercultural communication includes behaviors that suit the expectations of a specific culture, the characteristics of the situation, and the level of the relationship between the parties involved in the situation. It also takes into consideration one's own cultural norms and the best appropriate, comfortable compromise between the different cultural norms.
Social integration is the process during which newcomers or minorities are incorporated into the social structure of the host society.
Communication accommodation theory (CAT) is a theory of communication developed by Howard Giles. This theory concerns "(1) the behavioral changes that people make to attune their communication to their partner, (2) the extent to which people perceive their partner as appropriately attuning to them." The basis of the theory lies in the idea that people adjust their style of speech to one another. Doing this helps the message sender gain approval from the receiver, increases efficiency in communication between both parties, and helps the sender maintain a positive social identity. This theory is concerned with the links between language, context, and identity. It focuses on both the intergroup and interpersonal factors that lead to accommodation, as well as the ways that power, macro and micro-context concerns affect communication behaviors.. Accommodation is usually considered to be between the message sender and the message receiver, but the communicator also often accommodates to a larger audience- either a group of people that are watching the interaction or society in general.
Integrative communication theory is a theory of cross-cultural adaptation proposed by Young Yun Kim. The first widely published version of Kim's theory is found in the last three chapters of a textbook authored by William Gudykunst with Young Yun Kim as second author. See acculturation and assimilation.
Anxiety/Uncertainty Management (AUM) theory was introduced by William B. Gudykunst to define how humans effectively communicate based on their anxiety and uncertainty in social situations. Gudykunst believed that in order for successful intercultural communication a reduction in anxiety/uncertainty must occur. This is assuming that the individuals within the intercultural encounter are stranger. AUM is a theory based on the Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) which was introduced by Berger and Calabrese in 1974. URT provides much of the initial framework for AUM, and much like other theories in the communication field AUM is a constantly developing theory, based on the observations of human behaviour in social situations.
The interactive acculturation model (IAM) seeks to integrate within a common theoretical framework the following components of immigrants and host community relations in multicultural settings:
Identity management theory is an intercultural communication theory from the 1990s. It was developed by William R. Cupach and Tadasu Todd Imahori on the basis of Erving Goffman's Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior (1967). Cupach and Imahori distinguish between intercultural communication and intracultural communication.
Bicultural identity is the condition of being oneself regarding the combination of two cultures. The term can also be defined as biculturalism, which is the presence of two different cultures in the same country or region. As a general term, culture involves the behaviors and belief characteristics of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. Within culture, we have cultural effects, which are the shared behaviors and customs we learn from the institutions around us. An example of a cultural effect would be how an individual's personality is strongly influenced by the biological and social norms he is exposed to. Another cultural effect would be that in some societies it would be more acceptable to dress or act in a certain way.
John Widdup Berry is a psychologist known for his work in two areas: ecological and cultural influences on behavior; and the adaptation of immigrants and indigenous peoples following intercultural contact. The first is broadly in the domain of cross-cultural psychology; the second is in the domain of intercultural psychology.
Culture influences the way humans think about, look at, express and define their worlds. Culture also appears to influence the way people experience depression. Research shows that individual's experience with depression can vary from country to country. For example, a qualitative study revealed that some countries did not recognize post-natal depression as an illness; rather, it was viewed as a state of unhappiness that did not require any health interventions.
The immigrant paradox is that recent immigrants often outperform more established immigrants and non-immigrants on a number of health-, education-, and conduct- or crime-related outcomes, despite the numerous barriers they face to successful social integration.
Diversity ideology refers to individual beliefs regarding the nature of intergroup relations and how to improve them in culturally diverse societies. A large amount of scientific literature in social psychology studies diversity ideologies as prejudice reduction strategies, most commonly in the context of racial groups and interracial interactions. In research studies on the effects of diversity ideology, social psychologists have either examined endorsement of a diversity ideology as individual difference or used situational priming designs to activate the mindset of a particular diversity ideology. It is consistently shown that diversity ideologies influence how individuals perceive, judge and treat cultural outgroup members. Different diversity ideologies are associated with distinct effects on intergroup relations, such as stereotyping and prejudice, intergroup equality, and intergroup interactions from the perspectives of both majority and minority group members. Beyond intergroup consequences, diversity ideology also has implications on individual outcomes, such as whether people are open to cultural fusion and foreign ideas, which in turn predict creativity.
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