The following is the abstract for an article about how 2nd generation  Hare Krishna kids who were raised in isolation  adapted when they were thrust into the mainstream society.  Some excerpts appear below but best to read the whole article here.

Exploration of Self-Esteem and Cross Cultural Adaptation of the Marginalized Individual:

An investigation of the second generation Hare Krishnas

Sachi Horback

MA, PsyD Candidate

Cheryll Rothery-Jackson

Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA, USA


The purpose of this study was to explore the cross-cultural adaptation of a sample of adults raised in the Hare Krishna culture. Fifteen second generation ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) adults were asked to describe their family, peer, and social interactions and the perceived impact on their cross-cultural adaptation. An analysis of participant responses generated the following fifteen themes: (1) age and context of first contact with mainstream culture, (2) process of cultural adaptation, (3) parents’ marital status, (4) family relationships, (5) layers of marginality, (6) community norms and values, (7) identity crises, (8) self-esteem and self-esteem scores, (9) views of ISKCON culture, (10) views of mainstream culture, (11) cultural vernacular, (12) cultural emblems, (13) role models, (14) current cultural membership, and (15) future family vision. The outcome of the study was discussed with possible clinical issues which included the complexities of cultural belongingness, healthy and self-destructive aspects of adaptation, and feelings of terminal uniqueness.


Cultural diversity has been defined as “two or more distinct groupings recognizable by cultural, racial, or other socially distinctive features” (Berry 1974: 17). Among the world’s “large and complex nation-states,” there has been an increase in the population of multiple cultural groups (Berry 1974: 17). Therefore, much research has been conducted in response to this cultural expansion, as investigators strive to learn more about cultural identity and intercultural adaptation (Berry 1974).

Historically, it was believed that a healthy sense of self is achieved when one ascribes to a specific ethnicity and culture (Kim 1996). Yet, in a culturally diversified world, individuals may develop allegiances to multiple cultures simultaneously (Schaetti 2000). Furthermore, an individual may exist in cultural marginality, described by one writer as “feelings of ‘passive betweenness’ between two different cultures…and [they] do not perceive themselves as centrally belonging to either one” (Choi 2001: 193).

Cultural Marginality

The Marginal Man

The term “marginality” was first introduced by Robert Park in 1928. Park’s “marginal man” is “on the margin of two cultures and two societies which never completely [interpenetrate and fuse]” (Park 1928: 892, Brackets in original quote). Park described the marginal man as one with “spiritual instability, intensified self-consciousness, restlessness, and malaise” (893)…

One group that is considered a marginal culture in this society is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Rochford 1985; McCaig 2002)…

McCaig (2002) researched the development of ISKCON’s second generation, born into the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and coined the term Krishna Culture Kids (McCaig 2002). According to McCaig, although the first generation chose to become marginalized individuals within a dominant society, the second generation could be conceptualized as having been given this status at birth (McCaig 2002)…

Krishna Culture Kids generally had little contact with outside cultures until early or even late adolescence, when they attended public school or moved outside of the community for the first time (McCaig 2002). This was in part due to the individual family’s discovery that it was necessary to interact with the outside world to financially support themselves.

So, although currently most ISKCON members live and work in the mainstream, a vast migration didn’t begin to occur in greater numbers until the late 80’s. For many second generation Krishna Culture Kids, the differences were described as a “culture shock,” as they were plucked from the confines of the inclusive ISKCON community, unprepared to interface with mainstream culture. These Krishna Culture Kids faced compounding issues of adjustment as young adults, marginalized between the culture of origin (ISKCON) and the outside mainstream culture (See Figure 1, McCaig 2001)…

2) Process of adaptation

In general, regardless of age of first interactions with mainstream, most participants described a period of adjustment. Many commonly expressed that “no one prepared me” to regularly interact within the non-Hare Krishna sphere; therefore, they had to learn the norms, behavior, and dress on their own. All of the participants described themselves in a similar fashion, using terms such as “observer, ” “shape-shifter,” and “chameleon.” However, the process and extent to which they adapted to the new environment differed among participants…

7) Identity crises

Most of the participants reported a period of identity confusion when they began regularly interacting with non-Hare Krishnas. For most, this period of confusion occurred in adolescence, although some describe a period of crisis in early adulthood…

15) Future Family Vision

When asked how they envisioned raising their children, all fifteen commented that they often thought about this issue. This did not vary based on their current marital status. Only four out of fifteen participants currently has children. All but two participants would want to raise their children with experiences from both ISKCON and mainstream culture…