Assimilation-vs-Pluralism-Assimilation-is-a-process-in-which- by akgame


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									 -American society is continually
becoming/forming, changing face, permanently
   Who is an American?
Citizens of U.S. by birth or naturalization,
differences in ancestry, race/ethnicity, gender,
social class, or ideology do not exclude one
from being an American.
   Who wants to be an American?
   Voluntary immigrants, conquered, slaved, colonized,
  Who decides who is a “real” American?
WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants)
vs. other groups in history
   What are the goals of American society--
  Individual vs. societal goals?
  Individual goals: success, freedom, justice
  Societal goals: assimilation vs pluralism; to
  reinforce conformity to the dominant group or
  tolerant more diversity (harmony/orchestra
  not schism/separation), in order to achieve
  success, freedom, and justice.
Race: biological vs. social
biological--levels of melanin and skin color; over
30 kinds on a continuous/fluid color spectrum
   social--people attach skin color to personal worth,
   intelligence, eligibility for friendship/marriage, …society is
   highly race conscious, arbitrarily attributes greater
   significance to skin color than the objective realities
   could justify. Skin color is used to justify inequality in
   some way.
   Skin color hierarchy in the 19th c.
   Ethnicity is based on less visible things (language,
   religion, customs, …) thus more subjective, arbitrary,
   and changeable than skin color.
Gender: women as a minority group
gender is socially constructed
gender roles and relationships vary across time
and societies--historically, women have occupied a
subordinate status in patriarchy societies
past and present situation of minority members
vary by gender
feminist movement has largely been a white
middle class phenomenon, why?
History generally is written from the point of view
of winners. Women and minority groups had little
voice in history.
* Sexual orientation--are homosexuals a minority
group, why or why not?
 Assimilation vs. Pluralism
 Assimilation: is a process in
   which formerly distinct and
separate groups come to share a
  common culture and merge
        together socially

 Pluralism: exists when groups
maintain their individual identities
Immigration to the United States has been so
extensive during the past two decades that it
appears the century will end as it began, with
healthy debates about how immigrants fit into
the ideal U.S. society.
Do we celebrate cultural differences or try to
minimize them?
Should ethnic and racial boundaries be erased
through assimilation of immigrants by blurring
differences to achieve a melting pot, or should
racial and ethnic differences be maintained to
create a stronger pluralistic society?
There is a healthy degree of support for each point of
view. A nationwide survey conducted by the National
Opinion Research Center in 1994 included the following
statement: "Some people say that it is better for America
if different racial and ethnic groups maintain their
distinct cultures.”
Others say it is better if groups change so that they
blend into the larger society as in the idea of a “melting
People were asked to rank their opinions on a scale
ranging from "maintaining distinct cultures" (pluralism)
to "blending into the larger society" (assimilation).
Roughly one-third of Americans thought pluralism was
the best route, one-third endorsed assimilation, and one-
third found themselves somewhere in between.
The primordial (also known as "essentialist")
perspective argues that people have an innate
sense of ethnic identity -- it is something that
people are born with, is instinctive and natural,
and is difficult if not impossible to change.
 This is illustrated by the natural instinct to favor
one's kin or co-ethnics over non-kin and non-
The persistence of ethnocentrism and even
outright conflict between different racial/ethnic
groups attest to the historical and continuing
validity of the primordial basis of ethnic identity.
On the other hand, the situational
perspective (also known as the
"constructionist" or "instrumentalist")
states that ethnic identities are socially
defined phenomena.
That is, the meaning and boundaries of
ethnic identity are constantly being
renegotiated, revised, and redefined,
depending on specific situations and set of
circumstances that each individual or
ethnic group encounters.
Because ethnic identity among second
generation Non-Americans is inevitably
tied to the process of assimilation, we
should recognize the different forms of
assimilation and how different factors can
affect assimilation outcomes.
Among the most famous conceptions of
assimilation is the distinction between
behavioral assimilation (otherwise known
as "acculturation") and structural or
socioeconomic assimilation.
  Behavioral assimilation/acculturation
 occurs when a newcomer absorbs the cultural
  norms, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns of
  the "host" society.
This may also involve learning English and/or
  becoming an American citizen.
Within this process, they may choose to retain
  much of their traditional culture, norms, and
  behaviors while still acquiring those of
  mainstream American society, or to discard
  his/her traditional forms of culture entirely in
  favor of complete immersion and identification
  with mainstream American society.
The second major type of assimilation,
structural or socioeconomic assimilation,
refers to when Non- Americans enter and
become integrated into the formal social,
political, economic, and cultural institutions of
the host country
-- i.e., when they begin to participate as full
members of American society. Alternatively, it
can also refer to when they attain socioeconomic
mobility and status (usually in the form of
income, occupation, residential integration, etc.)
equal to other members of mainstream
American society.
The process of undergoing either behavioral or
structural/socioeconomic assimilation can occur in a
linear or "straight-line" manner in which the passage of
time and the succession of generations lead to
increasing economic, cultural, political, and residential
integration into American society.
 Or it can happen in a non-linear, circular, or "bumpy"
manner in which Non- Americans revive or retain old
cultural traditions, norms, and behaviors and choose to
remain somewhat isolated from mainstream American
society (the "ethnic resilience" model) or alternatively, to
combine elements of both their traditional (although
they may modify old traditions and values to fit their
contemporary circumstances) and mainstream American
culture (sometimes referred to as "segmented
Other research has focused on why
certain racial/ethnic groups assimilate
faster than others. One factor are racial
differences. White immigrants who came
to the U.S. back in the 1800s did
experience prejudice and discrimination.
But because they were White, they were
eventually able to integrate into American
society more quickly and easily than non-
White immigrants and minorities.
The second factor is the structure of the
During times of economic prosperity, there are
plenty of economic opportunities to go around
for everyone.
But in times of economic difficulties, there is
more economic competition and therefore, more
hostility toward minorities and immigrants who
are frequently seen as economic threats.
In this situation, groups who are in similar
economic situations are likely to be antagonistic
toward each other because they're competing
for the same jobs and social/economic
The final reason why some immigrants
assimilate faster than others is because of class
Some ethnic and immigrant groups on the whole
have higher levels of education, job skills, and
English proficiency than others.
This in turn gives them specific advantages in
achieving socioeconomic success faster than
others by allowing them to get jobs that are
higher-paying, more stable, and that offer
higher status.
As a result, they are able to achieve
socioeconomic mobility and success faster than
other groups.
Finally, one of the most famous theories of
assimilation comes from sociologist Milton
He theorized that there are three possible
outcomes of assimilation.
The first is Anglo conformity, which is when
the minority or immigrant is taught that the
norms, values, and institutions of the majority
group are superior and that they should adopt
them in order to be accepted.
This is symbolized as A+B+C=A.
The second outcome can be the melting
pot, a term that almost all Americans
have heard about.
 That's when different racial/ethnic groups
come together and out of this interaction
comes a new culture that incorporates
elements from all groups into one.
This can be represented as A+B+C=D.
The third possible outcome is cultural
pluralism, which others have also called the
"salad bowl."
This is when the different racial/ethnic groups
keep their unique cultural norms, traditions, and
behaviors, while still sharing common national
values, goals, and institutions
Gordon concluded that up to this point in
American society, Anglo conformity has best
represented the history of assimilation in

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