A critical examination of elite athlete acculturation scholarship from the lens of cultural Sport Psychology

Odirin P. Oghene *, Robert J. Schinke *, Thierry, R. F. Middleton * and Tatiana V. Ryba **

(*) Laurentian University, Canada
(**) University of Jyvaskyla, Finland


P. Oghene, O., J. Schinke, R., R. F. Middleton, T., V. Ryba, T. (2017). A critical examination of elite athlete acculturation scholarship from the lens of cultural Sport Psychology. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 48(6), 569-590. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2017.48.569


Today it is not uncommon for sports teams and clubs to be ethnically mixed and multicultural. One contributing factor to this diversity is the movement of athletes between and within countries. Although the reason for relocating varies for newcomer athletes, they all experience the challenge of navigating between a home and a new (e.g., receiving) culture. Researchers have also recently begun to recognize the reciprocal and dynamic nature of acculturation: individuals in the receiving community also experiencing a change (e.g., in practices and attitudes) to their society. The acculturation of migrant athletes has been considered from various disciplines and theoretical perspectives. Within this submission, elite athlete acculturation is examined through sociocultural and psychological lenses; the aim being to identify key gaps and inconsistencies in the research. The review only included conceptual and qualitative submissions to move beyond theory and towards understanding richer lived experiences. The authors provide a foundation to further research on acculturation by recommending creative and progressive qualitative methodologies and epistemologies to capture the complexities of this process. The authors then advocate for acculturation research to align with critical, cultural, and interdisciplinary understandings of sport participants in multicultural societies.

Keywords: Adaptation, Cultural transition, Cultural sport psychology