School of Communication and Digital Content


Master of Arts in Communication (MA)


William L Mullen

Primary Subject Area

Hispanic American Studies; Psychology, Social; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies


acculturation, Cross-Cultural Adaptation Theory, Hispanic, immigration, Latino, media usage


Communication | Critical and Cultural Studies | First and Second Language Acquisition | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Psychology | Race and Ethnicity


This study investigated certain aspects of the cross-cultural adaptation process of Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrants residing in small cities in the United States. Using Young Yun Kim's cross-cultural adaptation theory as a theoretical framework, the researcher investigated the journey those sojourners undergo and how their cultural identities are shaped throughout the process. The two questions that guided the research were: (1) What are the difficulties that Hispanics that migrate to small cities in the United States encounter? (2) What are the mechanisms (media usage, language acquisition, habits, life style etc.) utilized by them in order to adapt to the new environment? A mixed-methods approach was employed in order to utilize different types of data, a technique that is able to gather in-depth information of complex phenomena such as that under investigation in this study. In total, 62 individuals volunteered to be a part of this study, which was conducted at a Mid-Atlantic city in the state of Virginia. All of them filled out questionnaires with both Likert scale statements and short-answer responses, and 10 participants volunteered to take part in an interview. Results revealed that language is one of the major challenges sojourners have to deal with, and they attribute to their lack of fluency their difficulties in communicating with people in a host environment. Also, results showed that immigrants perceived as their responsibility to integrate themselves in the host community. Consequently, they seemed to use the media and interpersonal relationships as their windows into the new culture.