Critique of the Theory of Assimilation Essay

Critique of the Theory of Assimilation Essay

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The scholars of the Chicago School of Sociology have presented a theory of assimilation that generally states that people of different cultures and ethnicities that come into the United States (also applies to other countries as well) will have contact with American culture which will generate conflict. These people of a different culture or ethnicity will eventually acculturate and integrate into a so called “Melting Pot” of culture in which they will give off their own unique flavor but will eventually blend into mainstream society. I feel that this theory is quite eloquently constructed, but is rather limiting and not necessarily representative of every ethnic group that assimilated in the United States and should be broadened to include more possible processes than just one. Differences and similarities can clearly be seen between the ways that African Americans and European American immigrants assimilated into the United States, each were brought here for labor but had to gain their voice with very different tactics.
It is important, for the purposes of this essay, to distinguish between ethnicity and race. Ethnicity is “a process by which individuals or groups came to be understood, or to understand themselves, as separate or different from others”(Burgett & Hendler “Ethnicity” pg. 103). Race is often thought to be observable, biological differences between people. However, this idea “intersected with sociological arguments that displaced notions of race as a strict biological inheritance and forced scholars to confront it as a category with broad political and economical implications.”(Burgett & Hendler “Race” pg. 192). It is also important to establish what exactly American culture is. I believe that in this context it w...

... middle of paper ... Pot” analogy holds true as well as the “cycle of assimilation” theory. The Irish came, their culture conflicted with the existing culture, and then they were slowly accepted into mainstream American culture and melded into the “Melting Pot”. As far as my analogy goes, the Irish would be something like celery. It absorbs and releases a lot of flavor but only maintains some its own identity within the American Stew. If someone were eating it, they may only be able to recognize the celery by certain characteristics such as texture(last name) or appearance(red hair and freckles), otherwise, much of the original qualities of the celery has been sacrificed in the cooking process.
The Chicago School of Sociology’s “cycle of assimilation” theory in most cases has held true. Perhaps even in the case of African Americans it still will hold true once the cycle is complete.

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