Thesis Type:Ph.D. thesis
The increased contact between diverse cultures in recent years has precipitated growing interest in research on biculturalism. Due to migration, globalization, travel, media and electronic communication, people have closer acquaintance with diverse cultures and ethnic groups than ever before (Nguyen & Benet-Martínez, 2007). This fact is increasingly of more significance in the study of contemporary identity formation. Scholars have been interested in biculturalism as a prime illustration of the modern phenomenon of identity negotiation against the backdrop of the availability of social identities, the fluidity of social interactions and the multiplicity of choice available to the individual who comes into contact with more than one culture. This research aims to examine the process of bicultural identity negotiation within the specific context of the bicultural couple, extending and adapting two existing models of bicultural assessment from the bicultural individual and applying it to the bicultural couple: the bi-dimensional acculturation model (Berry, 1990, 1997, 2003) and the Bicultural Identity Integration model – BII (Benet-Martínez, 2010). The new conceptualization and measurement will be applied to religious-secular mixed couples in Israel - 'bicultural' Israeli couples in which one spouse defines him/herself as religious and the other as secular. Specifically, the study will examine the relationships between the level and patterns of marital bicultural identities and three central psychological aspects of marital functioning: (a) marital satisfaction (b) the level of differentiation of self, and (c) conflict resolution styles. This study will employ questionnaires measuring aspects of marital functioning which are existing validated measures widely used in marital research. The questionnaires derived from the new conceptualizations of biculturalism put forward in this study will be developed within the framework of the research, based on a preliminary qualitative phase using an exploratory mixed methods design (Creswell, 2005). Examining religious-secular bicultural couples is of particular relevance in the Israeli context, where there are deep divides between the religious and secular subgroups, but also a great deal of shared interaction and exchange in day to day life. In some sense, bicultural couples reflect on a small scale the broader cultural divides within Israeli society, and hence their study promises interesting and highly relevant insights with regard to Israeli society at large. Examining the patterns of interaction that contribute to strong relationships amongst couples who must bridge cultural divides within their marriages and resolve conflict stemming not only from personal, but from cultural differences as well, may have theoretical implications for conflict resolution within the broader society suffering from cultural alienation amongst different subgroups.