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Social Theories on Assimilation

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					Social Theories on Social Change,
  Ethnic & Racial Assimilation

        SOC 3300 “Inequality”
  Dr. Mary Cay Sengstock, Ph.D., C.C.S.

 http://users.wowway.com/~marycay910
Inevitability of Social/Cultural Change
• Cultural Diffusion: “100% American” (Ralph Linton)
   –   Wakes on a Mid-Eastern Style Bed Modified in N. Europe
   –   Puts On Clothes of Silk from China
   –   Woven in Style Devised in Middle East
   –   Looks Out a Window, Invented in Egypt
   –   Eats an Egg from Bird Domesticated in Indo-China
   –   & a Waffle, Cooked in a Scandinavian Iron …
   –   Made From Wheat Domesticated in Asia Minor
   –   Smokes (Amer. Indian Habit) Tobacco Invented in Brazil
   –   In Form of a Cigarette Invented in Mexico
   –   Thanks a Hebrew God, in Indo-European Language …
   –   That He Is 100% American!
    Theories of Cultural Change
• Some Basic Concepts & Theories:
  – Symbolic Interaction: All Human Interaction Is
    Mediated By Symbols: Language, Other Cultural
    Symbols (Gestures, Facial Expressions, etc.)
  – Cannot Communicate Without Understanding
    Others’ Words, Views, Perspectives
     • EX: Different Racial & Ethnic Groups
Impact of Social/Cultural Expectations

 “W.I. Thomas Theorem”: If Things Are Believed to
  Be True, They Are True in Their Consequences.”
    •   We Accept the Assumptions of Our Society …
    •   Then Act As Though This Is Reality
    •   EX: If People Believe Blacks Inferior …
    •   Then Give Them Less Opportunity …
    •   The Expectation Will Come True.
     Social Change – Its Rapidity
• Changes in Society Take Place Very Slowly
• Do NOT Expect Change to Occur Quickly
• Why?
  – There Are Many Aspects of Society Pressing for
    Continuation of the Status Quo:
     • Parents, Other Family
     • Schools, Religion, Government
  – EX: Attempt to Change Image of Girls, Women in
    Grade School Textbooks
              Social Change Pyramid
              How Long Will It Take?
Who Is Most
                               What Is the Chance
Likely to Change?
                               Of Change Occurring?

Who Is Likely to                        Why?
Resist Change?
 Cultural Contact & Culture Shock
• Cultural Contact – May Occur:
  – When One Goes to a Different Society (Immigrant)
  – Between Sub-groups in a Single Society
• What Happens When Inter-Cultural Contact
  Occurs?
• Cultural Shock As a Consequence of Cultural
  Contact
    The “Stranger,” Social Change,
          & Social Distance
• “Strangers” – A Frequent Source of Change
• All Societies: A “Special Place” for Strangers
  – Tiwi – North Australia: Kill Them
  – Middle East: Strangers Owed Hospitality
  – Lowered Swords As Tribes Enter Foreign Territories
• Similarity Attracts – Difference Repels
• Social Distance: Distrust of Those Different
• Diverse Societies Social Distance Problems
      Impact of Cultural Contact
          & Culture Shock
• Who Wins?
  – Outside Group May Dominate (English Colonists)
  – Equal Contact  Assimilate (French in N. Amer.)
  – Receiving Group Dominates (Immigrants Today)
• Culture Shock
  – Not Easy to Adapt to a New Culture
  – Many Immigrants Are Always “Between Cultures”
   Bogardus Social Distance Scale
       Higher Score = Less Acceptable (1926)

• Long Standing Measure of Perceived Distance
  – Accept Marriage into Family (1 pt)
  – Accept as Personal Friend (2 pts)
  – Accept as Neighbor (3 pts)
  – Accept Worker in Office (4 pts)
  – Only as Speaking Acquaintance (5 pts)
  – Accept Only As Visitor to Country (6 pts)
  – Bar from Entering Country (7 pts)
            Scores Over Time
• Social Distance Spread Shrinks:
  – Negroes (1977) 2.03 vs. Africans: 1.43
  – Mean (1997): 1.93 vs. Mean (2001): 1.44
• 2001: Muslims (1.88), Arabs (1.94) Least
  Acceptable vs. “American” (1.25)
• Remarkably: Their Scores Are NOT as Negative
  As That of Previous “Unacceptables” (1977):
  – Russians: 2.57 – Koreans: 2.63
       Georg Simmel: the Stranger
•   An “Outsider”: Different; Unknown
•   Represent Both Nearness & Remoteness
•   Physically Close –Seen as Unknown/Different
•   Strangers Are Both Inside & Outside:
    – Lack Knowledge of Social “Nuances”
    – More Likely to Be “Objective”
• Tendency to Use Stereotypes with Strangers
    – Need to Teach People to Get Along with Strangers
    – Parrillo: Train Germans to Interact with Americans
            Alfred Schutz:
    “Intersubjective Understanding
• “Natives”: Shared Understanding of World:
  – Language, Slang, Customs, Beliefs, Symbols, Daily
    Behavior Patterns – “Social Context”
  – Deep Understanding of Hidden Meanings
• Strangers Lack “Historicity,” “Shared Memory”
  – Chinese Student: Wanted to Conduct a Subjective
    Study of American Students – Possible?
  – Dr. Arifa Javed: Cross-Cultural Training Program:
             Parents – Students – Teachers
       Process of Acculturation
• Over Time, Strangers Come to Know “the
  Culture” – the Nuances of Social Interaction
• Deep Understanding/Speaking the Language
• They Now Understand How Others Feel, What
  They Say – Hidden Meanings Behind Words
• Natives Begin to Understand the Complexity
  of the “Strangers’ Culture” – Less Likely to
  Depend Upon Stereotypes
      Major Sociological Perspectives:
              Functionalism
         (Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton)

•   Stable, Cooperating System; Everyone Agrees
•   Everything Has an Accepted Function
•   System Is Ordered, Stable, in Equilibrium
•   Temporary Maladjustments “Dysfunctions”
•   Gradual Adjustments  New Equilibrium
      Major Sociological Perspectives:
              Conflict Theory
•   Disagreements, Tensions Inherent In Society
•   Conflict Is Inevitable As New Elites Arise
•   Inequalities Are Inevitable 
•   Disequilibrium, Change Are the Norm
•   Exploitation  Discrimination
•   Power Structure Has False Consciousness
•   Only Group Cohesiveness & Struggle Produces
    Social Change
     Major Sociological Perspectives:
         Interactionist Theory
•   Focus: Microsocial World Interaction Patterns
•   Shared Symbols, Definitions, Interpretations
•   Social Construction of Reality
•   Internalized Meanings Are Presumed
•   Intergroup Relations Perceived in that Context
•   Improved Communication Needed to Improve
    Relations Between Majority & Minority
                 Minority Groups
• Does Not Designate Numerical Representation
• Relates to Relative Power & Status in Society
• Louis Wirth – Noted 2 Dimensions:
    1. Not Solely Physical; Many Physical, Cultural Traits,
       Disabilities, Aging, etc.
    2. Social Consciousness; Focus on Prejudice, Discrimination
•   Richard Schermerhorn Does Not Agree:
    • Not All Minority Groups Involve Victimization
• Leads to Studies of Social Power Relationships
        Minority Group Definition
•   Group Receives Unequal Treatment
•   Easily Identifiable (Physical &/or Cultural)
•   Held in Low Esteem
•   Group Feels Sense of Sharing, Peoplehood
•   Membership Is ASCRIBED Status; Born Into It
•   Endogamy Is Practiced
Theories of Minority Integration:
          Assimilation
   Assumes That Outside Groups Become
Integral Part of Dominant Society – 3 Ways:


           Anglo-Conformity
             Melting Pot
               Pluralism
Assimilation: Definition (Milton Gordon)
• Process In Which 2 Groups Become One
  Group
• EX: 2 Immigrant Groups Which Live Near Each
  Other …
• Interact With Each Other …
• Eventually They Become 1 Group
• Ethnic EX: Development of “WASP” (Anderson)
• How the Jews Became “White” (Brodkin #4)
  Assimilation: Stages (Milton Gordon)
7 Stages:
1. Cultural Assimilation (Acculturation)
2. Marital Assimilation (Amalgamation)
3. Structural Assimilation (Primary & Secondary)
4. Identificational Assimilation (One Identity)
5. Attitude-Receptional (Absence of Prejudice)
6. Behavioral-Receptional (Absence of Discrimination)
7. Civic Assimilation (Absence of Political Conflicts)
          Gordon’s Hypotheses
• Cultural Assimilation is Necessary for the Rest
• Structural Assimilation Will Lead to the Rest
• Marital Assimilation  Process Complete

•   None Proven – Questioned By Many Theorists
•   Shows the Complexity of Assimilation
•   Question Re Who Assimilates to Whom
•   Question Re Degree to Which It Really Occurs
            Anglo-Conformity
• Based on Assimilation
• Assumes That All Incoming Groups Become
  Like the Original Group (i.e, “Anglos)
• Advocated By Anglos
• Question If It Ever Really Occurs
• Reality: Newcomers Really Change Most
• Newcomers Do Introduce Some New Ideas
  – Some Ideas (EX: Civil Rights Movement)
  – Even If It’s Just Their Foods; Some Words (Yiddish)
                 “Melting Pot”
• Assumes ALL Groups Meld Into A New Group
• Different from ALL of the Individual Groups
  – “New Breed” (J. Hector St. John de Creveceour, 1782)
  – “The Melting Pot” (Israel Zangwill, Play, 1908)
                Q: Did We Melt?
• Gordon: Only In Religion
• “Triple Melting Pot”
  – Protestant
  – Catholic
  – Jewish
  – (Ruby Jo Reeves Kennedy, New Haven, CN)

• Did This Even Occur There?
  – Andrew Greeley
            Melting Pot Today

• Who Would We Have to Include Today?
• Muslims? Hindus? Sikhs? Others?
• The Dominant Society Does NOT – Has NO
  INTENTION OF Accommodating/Assimilating!
• Most “Melting” Was Anglo-Conformist
  – Will Herberg; Henry Pratt Fairchild; Andrew
    Greeley; others
       Accommodation Theory:
             Pluralism
• “Democracy vs. Melting Pot” Horace Kallen (1915)
• Rejects Assimilation & Amalgamation
• Groups Retain Language, Customs ,
  Institutions
• Learn English, Participate in Institutions
  – Occupations, Education, Politics
• U.S: “Cooperation of Cultural Diversities”
      Pluralism a Cultural Reality
• Cultural Pluralism:
  – Some Culturally Distinct Groups Exist (Amish)
• Structural Pluralism
  – Many Groups Form Separate Social Groups
• Dual Realities: Both Types Always Existed
  – Groups Maintain Social/(Cultural) Separateness
  – Assimilation Required By Whites
• Reality: “Whites” Are Not “Just American”!
  – Strata; Self Control; Suppress Attitudes (Parrillo)
          Reactions to Pluralism
• Comparison to Other Societies
  – Canada: State Sponsored Multi-Culturalism
  – Australia: “White Australia”  2-Way
    Acculturation  U.S. Style Diversity
  – Trinidad & Tobago: “Tossed Salad”
     • East Indians Always “Outsiders” to Africans
  – France: Mono-Cultural – Everyone Is Native-Born!
  – U.S.: Mixture of Above
     • Generally Non-Interference Unless Problems
  – Bothers Many White Anglo-Saxon Protestants!
     • Richard Thompson: Unity, Not Diversity! (Hate Speech)

				
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