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Assimilation Theories and Trends in American Society Essay (Critical Writing)

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Introduction

The focus of three articles namely ‘America’s melting pot reconsidered’ written by Charles Hirschman, ‘Assimilation and cultural pluralism’ by Bill Ong Hing, and ‘Americas changing color lines’ by Jennifer Lee and Frank D. Bean mentions America and its changing culture. All these authors mainly focused on assimilation and its trends in America. “A popular way of getting hold of the assimilation idea has been to use a metaphor, and by far the most popular metaphor has been that of the “melting pot” (Salins, 1997, p.1, para.5). “Assimilation is a human accommodation, not a mechanical production” (Dove, 2001, para.16).

These are happening just because of the immigration of many people from different countries into America. “Immigration is quickly changing the racial demographics of the United States” (Hing, 2010, p.863). These demographic changes in the country are one of the hot debates in America during the last two decades. To make this point strong, it is clear from the article ‘Assimilation and cultural pluralism’ that between 1970 and 1990 nearly 22.4% increase in population has been registered. This includes many other immigrants also, as they are from African American, Latino, and Asian American, etc. “Over the past four decades, immigration has increased the racial and ethnic diversity in the United States” (Lee & Bean, 2004, p.221).

Assimilation theories origin and development

Various authors and eminent people conducted many studies on these assimilation theories. Among these, “Robert Park and the “Chicago School” of sociology” (Hirschman, 2010, p.399) conducted some research on this. They encouraged school students about the importance of race and ethnic relations. They defined definitions regarding accommodation and assimilations. Park believed that new culture, race, and language can make some changes in the old or traditional styles of living. Gunnar Myrdal points out that the evolution of industrialization in the country can change the culture of the country. When more and more industries are coming up, more people from different countries will migrate to the country and thus it will bring change in everything. Frazier once told that one of the outcomes of assimilation is European people’s expansion in the country. These can easily exploit the existing race in the country.

But, Lyman comes up with some criticism against Park’s statement that Park didn’t mention when assimilation occurs or when the conversion of racial conditions from one to another will take place. Bulmer comes and opposes what Gunnar Myrdal said. Bulmer mentions that industrialization never changes the culture of the country. He told, “that industrial organization will more likely to adapt to existing racial/ethnic mores rather than change them” (Hirschman, 2010, p.401). But it was Gordon who made long-term clarification regarding assimilation. He pointed out that there are seven types of assimilation and they are cultural, structural, martial, identification, attitude reception, behavioral reception, and civic. Gordon suggested that all these assimilations are interrelated to each other. But, he also mentioned that it is not necessary that all these must coincide.

There are different perceptions regarding assimilations. One of the perceptions is assimilation can be measured only by analyzing the groups properly. Also, patterns of assimilations don’t need to vary when the time changes. “Since patterns change over time as group composition varies and new structural conditions emerge, a timeless universal trend is not to be expected” (Hirschman, 2010, p.402). The key features or indicators of assimilations are “socioeconomic inequality, segregation in housing and schools, intermarriage and prejudice” (Hirschman, 2010, p.402).

Socioeconomic Assimilation

Education is one of the key factors in socioeconomic assimilation. For immigrants and other minority communities, this schooling is considered to be one of the best ways to learn about American society. The education system in America is considered to be one of the best. This is the reason for many of the students from other parts coming to America for having an education. This helped America to improve its economic condition on one hand but on another hand, there is a chance for occurring of cultural changes in America. “Americas new comers are undeniably altered the nation’s racial and ethnic landscape” (Lee & Bean, 2004, p.222).

Segregation

“Segregation arises not only from the authority of the dominant population, but also from a tendency among new immigrants to desire neighbourhoods and local institutions that reinforce their cultural orientations” (Hirschman, 2010, p.406). This can happen in many ways. An immigrant comes to America and stays in a house on rent or anything for a long time or stays in a courtyard of the house along with native residents. This gives a tendency to make a change in culture or ethnicity. The incorporation of newcomers is being watched by social scientists very keenly. These social scientists implemented a model called a straight-line model. “This model predicts that newcomers will both affect and be affected by the fabric of American life so that, in the long run, the immigrant minorities and the majority become ever more indistinguishable from one another, at least after several generations” (Lee & Bean, 2004, p.226). But, at the same time, this model fails to calculate the newest immigrants of America such as West Indians, Asians, and Latinos.

Intermarriage

Intermarriage is one of the outcomes of assimilation. At the end of the twentieth century, intermarriages were rare in white ethnics. But presently, intermarriage rates are much high. The trends of intermarriage show that with this, social distance is decreasing, racial/ethnic prejudice is declining, and similarly racial/ethnic group boundaries are also changing. Since 1970, the rate of intermarriage is relatively high. “The intermarriage rates for Asians and Latinos are nearly three times as high as that of blacks and more than 5 times the rate of whites” (Lee & Bean, 2004, p.229). Though intermarriages are high, it is not so high in immigrant groups such as Asians and Latinos. Also in blacks, while comparing with other groups intermarriage is uncommon.

Conclusion

Now the question arises whether these trends and different patterns indicate America’s change in color lines. There is no doubt that increases in intermarriage and multiracial populations are playing a big role in blending or twisting the races and in fading of America’s color lines. These intermarriage and multiracial populations indicate a huge reduction in social distance and racial prejudice. These patterns result in the weakening of social boundaries. Moreover, intermarriage results in growing multiracial populations in America. The main reason for America’s changing color is the presence of different types of patterns. The situation in America is not going to change in the future; it will be like this forever, as it is beyond control.

Reference

Dove, A. (2001). The melting of America. everything. Web.

Hing, B.O. (2010). Beyond the rhetoric of assimilation and cultural pluralism: Addressing the tension of separatism and conflict in an immigration-driven multiracial society. California Law Review 81(4), p.863-925.

Hirschman, C. (2010). America’s melting pot reconsidered. Annual Review of Sociology 9, pp.397-423.

Lee, J., & Bean, F.D. (2004). America’s changing colour lines: Immigration, race/ethnicity, and multiracial identification. Annual Reviews of Sociology 30, pp.221-242.

Salins, P.D. (1997). Assimilation American style: Universalist ideals, capitalism, a plethora of associations, and a love of progress are the secret to interethnic identity. Reason.com, p.1. Web.

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