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Chapter 2

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Eric Fong

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Assimilation Theory old and New CH2Historically assimilation was a contested idea that reflecting different visions of a society that was coming into being Angloconformity early version the expectation that immigrant groups should swallow intact the existing AngloAmerican culture while simultaneously disgorging their own JHector St French early articulation of the melting port conception of assimilation y Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world Assimilation is not a static or unchanging concept y Its definition and specifications have evolved steadily as American society has changed in its more than severalcentury experience of immigrationAssimilation and the Chicago School Early definition of assimilationRobert ParkEW Burgess y a process of interpenetration and fusion in which persons and groups acquire the memories sentiments and attitudes of other persons and groups and by sharing their experience and history are incorporated with them in a common cultural life y It does not require what many critics of assimilation theory assume namely the erasure of all signs of ethnic origins Park y social assimilation wasthe name given to the process or processes by which peoples of diverse racial origins and different cultural heritages occupying a common territory achieve a cultural solidarity sufficient at least to sustain a national existence y It was viewed as apparently progressive and irreversible y He identified with the notion of assimilation as the end stage of 1 Racerelations cycle of 2 Contact 3 Competition 4 Accommodation 5 Eventual Assimilation y Assimilation would proceed more unproblematically if immigrant groups were left to adjust at their own pace to American life rather than being compelled to drop their familiar ways
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