What Metaphor Is Used To Describe The Process Of Immigrant Assimilation Into US Dominant Culture

Ethnicity and Nationalism – Vocab – Ethnicity: a sense of historical, cultural, and sometimes

a sense of historical, cultural, and occasionally genealogical connection to a group of people who are considered to be separate from others outside of the group a tale presented about the creation and history of a particular group to instill a sense of shared identity in its members The term “ethnic border marker” refers to a habit or belief that distinguishes who belongs to a group and who does not, such as cuisine, clothes, language, a common name, or religion.

A situational negotiation of identity is defined as an individual’s self-identification with a certain group that might alter depending on their social context.

Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic elimination of an ethnic or religious group by a state or by individuals.

The metaphor of a melting pot is used to depict the process of immigrant integration into the mainstream culture of the United States.

Assimilation occurs when minorities get integrated into the dominant culture.

State: a political, ethnic, and nationalist framework that is autonomous and regional in nature.

Berry’s Model of Acculturation – Culture and Psychology

Culture shock, as well as the stages of culture shock, are a part of the process of being acclimated. According to Rudiman (2003), scholars from a variety of disciplines have developed more than 100 different theories of acculturation. Recent research, on the other hand, has focused on different strategies and how acculturation affects individuals, as well as interventions to make the process more manageable (Berry, 1992). Berry developed a model of acculturation that divides individual adaption techniques into two categories based on two variables (Berry, 1992).

The second component is the acceptance or rejection of the host culture by the immigrant.

  • It is called assimilation when individuals choose to adhere to the cultural norms of a dominant or host culture over their own cultural standards. People separate themselves from the dominant or host culture in favor of keeping their own culture of origin, which is referred to as separation. Immigration to ethnic enclaves is frequently a factor in facilitating separation. Integration happens when individuals are able to adapt to the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture while yet keeping their cultural identity and background. Integration leads to biculturalism, which is generally considered identical with it. A person’s status as a marginalized person comes when they reject both their culture of origin and the dominant host culture

According to research, people’s acculturation strategies might alter depending on whether they are in their private or public lives (Arends-Tóth & van de Vijver, 2004, for example). Example: An individual may reject the values and conventions of the host culture in his private life (separation), but he may adapt to the host culture in public areas of his life (adoption) if he lives in a multicultural environment (i.e., integration or assimilation). Furthermore, views on acculturation, as well as the many acculturation tactics accessible, have not remained consistent throughout the course of time.

  1. Many immigrant groups have expressed their experiences using the metaphor of the melting pot, yet this metaphor fails to convey the realities of many immigrant groups in the United States (Allen, 2011).
  2. Immigrants from Ireland and Italy, for example, were treated unfairly and were even shown as black in cartoons that appeared in newspapers, and it wasn’t until 1952 that Asian immigrants were granted naturalization as citizens of the United States (Allen, 2011).
  3. It is possible to identify an integrating strategy for acculturation inside the Deaf culture.
  4. Deaf persons in the United States live within the mainstream society and share the same cultural values as their hearing counterparts, but they are divided by language and handicap from their hearing counterparts (Maxwell-McCaw, et al., 2000).

A review of the literature on acculturation suggests that the integrated acculturation strategy produces the most favorable psychological outcomes (Nguyuen et al., 2007; Okasaki et al., 2009) for individuals who are adjusting to a host culture, and marginalization produces the least favorable psychological outcomes (Berry, et al., 2006).

The four techniques, according to some researchers, are only moderately effective predictors of future behavior since people do not usually fall cleanly into the four categories (Kunst et al., 2013; Schwartz et al., 2010).

In addition to situational considerations (e.g., traveling with family, knowledge with the language), aspects in the environment influence the availability, advantages, and selection of various acculturation techniques (Zhou, 1997).

Assimilation – How Different Cultural Groups Become More Alike

It is the process through which various cultural groups grow more and more similar to one another that is known as assimilation or cultural assimilation. When total assimilation has occurred, there is no longer any discernible distinction between the once distinct groups of people. In most cases, assimilation is considered in terms of minority immigrant groups assimilating into the culture of the majority and so becoming more similar to them in terms of values, ideologies, behavior, and customs.

Assimilation, on the other hand, does not always take place in this manner.

This is the essence of the metaphor of the melting pot, which is frequently used to characterize the United States of America and its people (whether or not it is accurate).

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The process of assimilation, in any case, culminates in individuals becoming increasingly similar to one another.

Theories of Assimilation

A generation ago, sociologists working out of Chicago’s University of Chicago established theories of assimilation that are being used today in social science departments worldwide. Chicago, a major industrial city in the United States, was a major lure for immigrants from Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century. Several well-known sociologists focused their attention on this group in order to better understand the process by which they became integrated into mainstream society, as well as the range of factors that may obstruct that process.

Thomas, Florian Znaniecki, Robert E.

Three major theoretical viewpoints on assimilation arose as a result of their research.

  1. According to the definition of assimilation, it is a linear process by which one group gradually becomes culturally similar to another. In light of this hypothesis, one might see generational shifts within immigrant families, in which the immigrant generation is culturally distinct upon arrival but eventually assimilates to the mainstream culture to a certain extent. The first-generation offspring of those immigrants will grow up and be socialized in a society that is distinct from the one in which their parents were born. If the majority of the population is made of a homogeneous immigrant group, the majority culture will be their native culture, while they may still adhere to some beliefs and practices from their parents’ native culture when at home and within their community. Aspects of their grandparents’ culture and language are less likely to be preserved in the second generation grandchildren of the original immigrants, and they are more likely to be culturally indistinguishable from the majority culture. This is the type of assimilation that might be referred to as “Americanization” in the United States of America. There are several theories on how immigrants are “absorbed” into a “melting pot” culture
  2. Assimilation is a process that will vary depending on race, ethnicity, and religion. The process may be easy and straightforward for some, while it may be hampered by institutional and interpersonal hurdles that present themselves as racism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and religious prejudice for others. Examples include the practice of “redlining” in residential real estate, in which racial minorities were purposefully barred from purchasing homes in predominantly white neighborhoods for much of the twentieth century, which exacerbated residential and social segregation and slowed the process of assimilation for those who were targeted. As another example, consider the difficulties religious minorities in the United States, such as Sikhs and Muslims, encounter in integration because of their religious attire, and as a result, are socially isolated from mainstream culture. Assimilation is a process that will vary depending on the economic condition of the minority individual or group. Whenever an immigrant group is economically disadvantaged, they are also more than likely to be socially alienated from mainstream culture, as is the case for immigrants who work in the service industry or as farm workers. Thus, immigrants with poor economic status are more likely to cluster together and isolate themselves, in part because they are forced to share resources (such as shelter and food) in order to live. In contrast, middle-class or rich immigrant groups will have greater access to housing, consumer goods and services, educational resources, and leisure activities that will assist them in assimilating and integrating into mainstream culture.

How Assimilation is Measured

Social scientists investigate the process of assimilation by focusing on four essential components of life among immigrant and racial minority populations: education, employment, housing, and family. Socioeconomic position, regional dispersion, language proficiency, and rates of intermarriage are only a few of the factors to consider. Socioeconomic status, often known as SES, is a cumulative assessment of one’s standing in society that is based on factors such as educational attainment, occupation, and income, among others.

  1. A gain in socioeconomic status would be regarded as a sign of effective integration into American society.
  2. In Chinatowns, for example, clustering would indicate a low level of assimilation, which is common in culturally or ethnically unique enclaves such as Chinatowns.
  3. A measure of assimilation can also be determined by a person’s ability to communicate in a foreign language.
  4. The amount of information they acquire or do not absorb during the next months and years might be seen as an indication of poor or high absorption.
  5. As a final measure of assimilation, rates of intermarriage across racial, ethnic, and/or religious boundaries can be used to compare groups of people.
  6. No matter whether measure of assimilation is used, it is crucial to remember that there are cultural developments taking place behind the scenes that are not captured in the numbers.

Assimilation is a process in which individuals or groups become assimilated to the majority culture within a society.

How Assimilation Differs from Acculturation

Although the terms assimilation and acculturation are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct processes. While assimilation refers to the process by which different groups become increasingly similar to one another, acculturation refers to the process by which a person or group from one culture comes to adopt the practices and values of another culture while still maintaining their own distinct culture, as opposed to assimilation. As a result, with acculturation, one’s native culture is not lost over time, as would be the case with assimilation throughout the process of integration.

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Additionally, accculturation may be evident in the manner that people from the majority group embrace cultural behaviors and beliefs that are associated with members of minority cultural groups within their community.

Integration versus Assimilation

An assimilation model based on a linear progression in which culturally diverse immigrant groups and racial and ethnic minorities become progressively similar to those in the majority culture was deemed ideal by social scientists and government officials for most of the twentieth century. Today, many social scientists agree that integration, rather than assimilation, is the best paradigm for integrating newcomers and minority groups into any given community, regardless of the circumstances. This is due to the fact that the concept of integration emphasizes the relevance of cultural distinctions in a varied society, as well as the importance of culture to a person’s sense of self, familial relationships, and sense of connection to one’s ancestry.


An assimilation model based on a linear progression in which culturally diverse immigrant groups and racial and ethnic minorities gradually became more like those in the majority culture was deemed ideal by social scientists and government officials for most of the twentieth century. Currently, many social scientists argue that integration, rather than assimilation, is the most effective approach for integrating newcomers and minority groups into a particular society’s culture. This is due to the fact that the concept of integration emphasizes the relevance of cultural distinctions in a varied society, as well as the importance of culture to a person’s sense of self, familial relationships, and sense of connection to one’s ancestors’ cultures.

As a result, through integration, a person or group is encouraged to keep their original culture while also being encouraged to acquire required components of the new culture in order to live a complete and functioning life in their new home.

Melting pot vs. multiculturalism

Many of us, especially those of us who are now in our golden years, were nurtured at a period of American history that emphasized the notion of the “melting pot.” As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, a melting pot is a place where people of different ethnic origins and cultures all come together to mix and merge, resulting in the formation of a new culture that is not necessarily monolithic or homogeneous, but rather one that is based on some sort of shared template for society.

  • With the exception of First Peoples, who have ancestors who are indigenous to North America, you are a descendent of immigrants.
  • However, while some might argue that the idea of the melting pot is a monocultural metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming homogeneous, perhaps another way of looking at this word is through the lens of “assimilation” would be more accurate.
  • It became part of the American language in 1909, following the Broadway debut of a play titled “The Melting Pot,” which received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
  • We weren’t just Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Russian immigrants, or any other ethnic group; we were American citizens first and foremost.
  • In recent years, the desirability of assimilation as well as the melting pot paradigm have come under intense examination and criticism.

According to the dictionary, multiculturalism is described as “a society where all cultural or ethnic groups have equal rights and opportunities, and no group is disregarded or seen as unimportant.” The pendulum of social evolution swings dramatically from one extreme to the other, and I would argue that neither “the melting pot” nor “multiculturalism” is without value or does not exist without significant problems.

This topic, in my opinion, should be considered a “continuum.” There is the absolute concept of a melting pot — everyone is thrown together and we all share the same customs, cultures, and values — on one extreme of this spectrum.

Instead, there are numerous “Americans,” each reflecting a completely distinct culture, all living inside the same geographical and political borders.

It served us well in our battles against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and we should hope that all individuals and cultures in our country can come together and focus their energies in a positive manner for the amelioration of the many problems that face our society today, just as it did in our battles against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan The problem with the melting pot is that it does not truly embrace the importance of diversity — in fact, it actively discourages variation for the sake of uniformity and consistency.

  1. While growing up in the 1950s, my only true exposure to Native American culture was from television and movies, which were the only mediums available at the time.
  2. When I was growing up, my teachers instilled in me the belief that “assimilation” should take precedence over everything else and that remnants of “old world culture” were ethnocentric and had no true place in the American experience.
  3. The United States will be stronger as a result of embracing variety and leveraging on the qualities of many different civilizations.
  4. While recognizing different cultures is vital, “multiculturalism” is not a cure.
  5. Personaly, I despise civilizations that hold that women have innately lower legal rights than males.
  6. Cultural practices such as female castration or child molestation are unacceptable to me, and I oppose them as part of their cultural norm.

The pendulum is still swinging back and forth. The solution can be found anywhere in the middle of the previously indicated continuum. Tom Westfall is a parenting instructor at the Family Resource Center in Chicago.

America’s Racial and Ethnic Divides

Immigrants are rejecting the notion of assimilation.

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Maria Jacinto, with her husband, Aristeo, and one of their five children, speaks only Spanish. “When my skin turns white and my hair turns blonde, then I’ll be an American,” she says.(By William Branigin– The Washington Post)

Third in a series of occasional articles By William BraniginWashington Post Staff WriterMonday, May 25, 1998; Page A1 OMAHA – Nightis falling on South Omaha, and Maria Jacinto is patting tortillas for the evening meal in the kitchen of the small house she shares with her husband and five children. Like many others in her neighborhood, where most of the residents are Mexican immigrants, the Jacinto household mixes the old country with the new.As Jacinto, who speaks only Spanish, stresses a need to maintain the family’s Mexican heritage, her eldest son, a bilingual 11-year-old who wears a San Francisco 49ers jacket and has a paper route, comes in and joins his brothers and sisters in the living room to watch “The Simpsons.” Jacinto became a U.S.

citizen last April, but she does not feel like an American.


“When my skin turns white and my hair turns blonde, then I’ll be an American.” In many ways, the experiences of the Jacinto family are typical of the gradual process of assimilation that has pulled generations of immigrants into the American mainstream.

But in the current immigration wave, something markedly different is happening here in the middle of the great American “melting pot.” Not only are the demographics of the United States changing in profound and unprecedented ways, but so too are the very notions of assimilation and the melting pot that have been articles of faith in theAmerican self-image for generations.E Pluribus Unum(From Many, One) remains the national motto, but there no longer seems to be a consensus about what that should mean.

  1. There is a sense that, especially as immigrant populations reach a critical mass in many communities, it is no longer the melting pot that is transforming them, but they who are transforming American society.
  2. But several factors have combined in recent years to allow immigrants to resist, if they choose, the Americanization that had once been considered irresistible.
  3. Some sociologists argue that the melting pot often means little more than “Anglo conformity” and that assimilation is not always a positive experience – for either society or the immigrants themselves.
  4. Even the metaphor itself is changing, having fallen out of fashion completely with many immigration advocacy and ethnic groups.
  5. “It’s difficult to adapt to the culture here,” said Maria Jacinto, 32, who moved to the United States 10 years ago with her husband, Aristeo Jacinto, 36.
  6. It’s important for our children not to be influenced too much by thegueros,” she said, using a term that means “blondies” but that she employs generally in reference to Americans.
  7. They see their children assimilating, but often to the worst aspects of American culture.
  8. Immigrants such as the Jacintos are here to stay but remain wary of their adoptive country.
  9. “If assimilation is a learning process, it involves learning good things and bad things,” said Ruben G.
  10. “It doesn’t always lead to something better.” At work, not only in Omaha but in immigrant communities across the country, is a process often referred to as “segmented” assimilation, in which immigrants follow different paths to incorporation in U.S.

These range from the classic American ideal of blending into the vast middle class, to a “downward assimilation” into an adversarial underclass, to a buffered integration into “immigrant enclaves.” Sometimes, members of the same family end up taking sharply divergent paths, especially children and their parents.

Many native-born Americans also seem to harbor mixed feelings about the process.

With Hispanics, especially Mexicans, accounting for an increasing proportion of U.S.

Hispanics now have overtaken blacks as the largest minority group in Nebraska and will become the biggest minority in the country within the next seven years, according to Census Bureau projections.

In many places, new Hispanic immigrants have tended to cluster in “niche” occupations, live in segregated neighborhoods and worship in separate churches.

But their heavy concentrations in certain parts of the country, their relatively close proximity to their native lands and their sheer numbers give this wave of immigrants an unprecedented potential to change the way the melting pot traditionally has worked.

Since 1970, more than half of the estimated 20 million foreign-born people who have settled in the United States, legally and illegally, have been Spanish speakers.

This is the first time that such large numbers of people are immigrating from a contiguous country.

Today Hispanics, mostly of Mexican origin, make up 31 percent of the population of California and 28 percent of the population of Texas.

Kennedy, a professor of American history at Stanford University.

The children of immigrants, especially those who were born in the United States or come here at a young age, tend to learn English quickly and adopt American habits.

Schools exert an important assimilating influence, as does America’s consumer society.

Gaps in income, education and poverty levels between new immigrants and the native-born are widening, and many of the newcomers are becoming stuck in dead-end jobs with little upward mobility.Page Two|Back to Top© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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