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Cultural assimilation

Cultural assimilation is the process by which a person or a group's language and/or culture come
to resemble those of another group.
The term is used to refer to both individuals and groups, and in the latter case it can refer to
eitherIMMIGRANT diasporas or native residents that come to be culturally dominated by another
society. Assimilation may involve either a quick or gradual change depending on circumstances of
the group.
Full assimilation occurs when new members of a society become indistinguishable from members of
the other group. Whether or not it is desirable for anIMMIGRANT group to assimilate is often
disputed by both members of the group and those of the dominant society.

Cultural influence[edit]
A place (a state or an ethnicity) can spontaneously adopt a different culture due to its political
relevance, or to its perceived superiority. The first is the case of the Latin language and culture, that
were gradually adopted by most of the subjugated people.
The second is not the case of subjugated, but of the older and richer culture, which see itself
imitated by the new masters, e.g. the victorious Roman Republic adopted more from
the Hellenistic cultures than it imposed in most domains, except such Roman specialties as law and
the military.
Cultural assimilation can happen either spontaneously or forcibly.
A culture can spontaneously adopt a different culture or older and richer cultures forcibly integrate
other weak cultures.
The term assimilation is often used with regard toIMMIGRANTS and various ethnic groups
who have settled in a new land. A new culture and new attitudes toward the origin culture are
obtained through contact and communication. Cultural changing is not simply a one-way process.
Assimilation assumes that relatively tenuous culture gets to be united to one unified culture. This
process happens through contact and accommodation between each culture. The current definition
of assimilation is usually used to refer to immigrants,
but in multiculturalism, cultural assimilation can happen all over the world, not just be limited to
specific areas. For example, a shared language gives people the chance to study and work
internationally, not just being limited to the same cultural group. People from different countries
contribute to diversity and form the "global culture" which means the culture combined by the
elements from different countries. This "global culture" can be seen as a part of assimilation that
causes cultures from different areas to affect each other.




by Shelly Shah Sociology

Assimilation in






Assimilation is the process whereby persons and groups

acquire the culture of other group in which they come to live,
by adopting its attitudes and values, its patterns of thinking
and behavingin short, its way of life.
Some of the definitions of assimilation are the following:
(i) Assimilation is a process of interpenetration and fusion in
which persons and groups acquire the memories, sentiments,
attitudes of other persons or groups and by sharing their
experiences and history are incorporated with them in a
cultural life -Park and Burgess
(ii) Assimilation is a process whereby altitudes of many
persons are united, and thus develop into a united group.

(iii) Assimilation is the social process whereby individuals or

groups come to share the same sentiments and goals.
(iv) Assimilation is the process whereby individuals or groups
once dissimilar become similar, and identified in their interest
and outlook. -Nimkoft
(v) Assimilation is a word used to designate a process of
mutual adjustment through which culturally different groups
gradually obliterate their differences to the point where they
are no longer regarded as socially significant or observable.
(vi) Assimilation is the fusion or blending of two previously
distinct groups into one. Obviously, assimilation requires
more fundamental changes than ant agonistic co-operation,
which are called accommodation. -Mack and young
(vii) The process of mutual cultural diffusion through which
persons and groups come to share a common culture is called
assimilation. -Horton and Hunt
The process as pointed out by Fairchild, involves both
nationalisation and renationalisation. It results in the
modification of social attitudes. When different cultures come
into contact, originally it is the sentiment of mutual conflict
that is most prominent but they gradually assimilate
elements from each other.
Under assimilation the two distinct groups do not just
compromise or otherwise agree to get along with each other,
they become so much like each other that they are no longer
distinguishable as separate groups.
Like socialisation, it too, is a process of learning but it starts
when the individual comes into contact with other cultures.
Assimilation is a social and psychological process. Hayes,

however, holds that assimilation is a result rather than a

process of interaction.
Assimilation is not limited to single field only:
The best example of assimilation is that of the foreigners
being assimilated in the host culture i.e., their abandoning
their own culture and taking on that of the host country. But it
would be wrong to limit die process of assimilation to this
single field. Assimilation takes place in other cases also.
For instance, children are gradually assimilated into
adult society as they grow up and learn how to behave.
Fostered children take in the new ways of their fosterparents sometimes so completely that the traces of
earlier home-influence are effaced.
Husbands and wives, starting marriage with dissimilar
back-grounds often develop a surprising unity of interest
and purpose.
In the religious field, members of one church may be
brought into the field of other by conversion.
Since assimilation is a social process, it is a
characteristic of group life in general, and is not limited
to particular kinds of groups.
Stages in the process of assimilation:
Assimilation is slow and gradual process.
It takes quite some time before individuals or groups once
dissimilar become similar: that is, become identified in their
interests and outlook. Acculturation is the name given to
the stage when one cultural group which is in contact with
another appropriates or borrows from it certain cultural
elements and incorporates them into his own culture, thus
modifying it.

As we have discussed earlier, contact between two groups

inevitably Defects both; though it is but natural that the
culturally weaker group would do more of the borrowing from
and would give very little to the culturally stronger group.
For instance, the American Indians adopted cultural elements
of the Whites with whom they came in contact; but the
whites also appropriated certain cultural traits from the
Thus assimilation has two parts or stages one is the
suppression of the parent culture, the other is the acquisition
of new ways, including new language. The two may overlap in
point of time.
The adoption of some of the dominant culture by another
cultural group paves the way for absorption of the new
cultural group with the dominant culture. Some traits are
readily adopted even if the two groups are only slightly in
contact. From the whites the American Indians quickly
learned to use intoxicants and fire arms.
On the other hand, the early American settlers did not
hesitate before long in adopting the Indian uses of food stuffs
like potatoes, maize, etc. Similarly, immigrants in America or
Europe usually begin to wear American or European style
clothes almost as soon as they land and so on.
The social contacts thus established finally result in
assimilation. The speed of the process of assimilation
naturally depends on the nature of the contacts. If the
contacts are primary, assimilation occurs naturally and
rapidly but if they are secondary, i.e., indirect and superficial
the result is accommodation rather than assimilation.

Hindrances and Aids to Assimilation:

Assimilation is not a simple but a complex process.

There are certain factors which facilitate assimilation and

others which hinder or retard it. The rate of assimilation of a
cultural minority depends upon whether the facilitating or
retarding factors predominate.
According to Gillin and Gillin, factors favouring assimilation
are toleration, equal economic opportunity, sympathetic
attitude on the part of the dominating group towards the
minority group, exposure to the dominant culture, similarity
between the cultures of the minority and dominant groups
and amalgamation or intermarriage.
On the other hand, factors hindering or retarding assimilation
are isolating conditions of life, attitudes of superiority on the
part of the dominant group, excessive physiological, cultural
and social differences between the groups and persecution of
the minority group by the majority group.
MacIver lists the following factors which may account
for the ready acceptance of some groups and relative
antagonism towards others:
1. The state of the development of the society entered:
The nature of the immigrants reception in the new land is
dependent to a very large extent on the conditions existing at
the time he inters. For instance, immigrants were most
acceptable in America before 1880 when strength and skill of
every kind were needed in the development of new land s
and growing industries but those coming in the year after
1880 have not been accepted with the same advantages
those entering after 1933 have been rather dewed as a
threat to the economic well-being of native workers.
2. Background occupational skills:
The immigrant has a great advantage when he already
possesses the skill and training in the work for which there is

a need in the new country. For instance, he immigrants skilled

in industries have better chances of being readily accepted in
industrially undeveloped countries and so have the people of
rural background in countries of agrarian economy.
3. The numbers involved:
It has been observed that the attitude of a group towards the
outsiders tends to be tolerant until he latters numbers reach
large proportion. A single Chinese or Japanese or Mexican
family in a community may be highly esteemed if the
individuals are personally acceptable. Should the lumber of
such families increase, the situation may become radically
The larger the proportion of new comers, the relater is the
resistance of the established group to their integration. It has
been proved by Moreno in his book Who Shall Survive that
the increase in resentment in some cases has been but of all
proportions to the increase in numbers.
4. Physical differences:
Differences in features, complexion of skin and other physical
traits may also help or hinder in assimilation. Racial barrier
hinders assimilation because while one can set aside ones
culture, one cannot set aside ones skin. We can see
discrimination between the White and the Negro races almost
everywhere in the world.
Generally the adjustment problems are the easiest for those
immigrants who in appearance re supposedly most like the
people of the new land. It may be pointed out that physical
differences in themselves do not produce antagonisms or
prejudice between people as is the case in South astern Asia
and Latin America, but when other factors operate to produce
group frictions, physical differences give rise to inferiority and

5. Cultural differences:
Language and religion are usually considered to be the main
constituents of culture. Immigrants having same religion and
language as the people of the country of heir adoption can
easily adjust themselves there. In America, for sample,
English speaking Protestants are assimilated with the
greatest speed and ease whereas non-Christians who do not
speak English, have the greatest difficulty in being
assimilated there, customs and beliefs are other cultural
characteristics which can d or hinder assimilation.
6. The role of semi-community:
Sometimes immigrants who come in large numbers settle in
compact colonies where they continue to practise their native
folkways instead of participating in the life around them. Such
semi-communities play an important double role in the
assimilation process.
On the one hand, such a community by retaining many
features of the traditional way of life enables the new comers
to identify themselves with their fellowmen and adjust to the
new conditions easily. On the other hand, the existence of
such communities is viewed as alien and distasteful by the
Besides the above factors listed by MacIver, prejudice may
also impede assimilation. As long as the dominant group does
not prejudge those who have been set apart, they as neither
a group nor their individual members can easily become
assimilated to the general culture.
Prejudice also impedes assimilation between constituent
elements within a given society. Religious groups often allow
the social distance created by prejudice to maintain their
separateness. Prejudice may be the outcome of some
unpleasant experiences, fear of losing a superior status,

dread of economic competition or some form of a collective

Assimilation, it may be pointed out, is a matter of degree. In
large society, complete assimilation is perhaps a hypothetical
rather than a practically existing state of affairs. The alien
group not only contributes to the host culture but retain many
of their own ways. As a result thereof, there is cultural
pluralism which may represent incomplete assimilation.
Should the minority group be forced to assimilate the culture
of the majority group, is a controversial question. Some stress
that it is very necessary for every individual to share the
same ideals and participate in the sentiments common to the
whole nation. There are others who maintain that the
existence of various cultural minority groups produces a
richer culture.
They believe in cultural pluralism. They also hold that
cultural pluralism can solve many problems of prejudice.
India has a rich cultural heritage because of the long
established tradition of cultural pluralism. But has it produced
harmony in Indian society? The Ayodhya incident and the
Punjab problem have again highlighted the question.

Definition of Assimilation
Assimilation is a gradual process by which a person or group belonging to one culture adopts
the practices of another, thereby becoming a member of that culture. Sociologists commonly
distinguish between forced and unforced assimilation. In forced assimilation, a person or
group is compelled to take on the practices of another culture, such as by adopting that
culture's language and religious traditions. In unforced assimilation, a person takes on the
practices of another culture but is not forcibly compelled to do so. Sociologists use the
concept of assimilation to describe one way a person or group of a particular culture (such
asIMMIGRANTS ) might respond to or blend with another culture, or how a minority cultural
group might relate to a dominant cultural group.

ASSIMILATION is the integration of two dissimilar culture into single culture

comprising characteristics of both cultures. When a minority ethnic group is
assimilated into the dominant culture the minority group loses its distinctiveness
and through it cultures can blend and lose their separate identities.

Under assimilation the two distinct groups do not just

compromise or otherwise agree to get along with each other,
they become so much like each other that they are no longer
distinguishable as separate groups.

cultural assimilation occurs when members of one cultural group adopt the language,
practices and beliefs of another group, often losing aspects of their traditional culture in
the process. One example involves the forced assimilation of Native Americans, who were
required to attend government-funded boarding schools and forbidden to speak their traditional
languages. As of 2014, only 154 of the roughly 300 original Native American languages are still

Cultural assimilation also occurs when immigrants voluntarily adopt their new country's
language and cultural practices to integrate into society and improve their chances of
economic and social gain. Social acceptance is often easier for groups whose culture
and appearance more closely resemble those of the majority group. Though Italian and
Irish immigrants to the United States were originally looked down on by Americans of
English descent, they were eventually absorbed into the dominant white culture.
Second- and third-generation children of immigrants from Asian countries, on the other
hand, continue to experience stereotypes that mark them both as a "model minority"
and "forever foreigners," which are groups that have severe difficulty fully integrating
into mainstream U.S. society.
The counterpart to cultural assimilation is multiculturalism, in which cultural diversity is
encouraged and valued as beneficial to society.

Assimilation occurs when two separate items with unique

characteristics come together and blend. Either one item will blend
to become more like the other, or these two unique objects can
meet somewhere in the middle. This may sound broad, but that is
because assimilation occurs in many different contexts, such as

cultural, linguistic, and biological. To better understand its definition,

here are some examples of assimilation.
Cultural Assimilation

This is the most common example of assimilation. Cultural

assimilation occurs when two groups of people, with differences in
culture, influence each other. This typically occurs when two
different groups share a geographical border. An example of cultural
assimilation that occurs every day is when someone chooses to
immigrate to a new country and adopts the customs of their new
culture. Although this can also be forced by a government (referred
to as forced assimilation), it is often a positive process occurring at
Color Assimilation

This is the best example of assimilation if you have difficulty

understanding the concept. Because assimilation is defined as two
different things blending together, colors can assimilate as well.
Imagine if you had yellow paint and blue paint. When these two
colors are blended together, they become a shade of green. This
blending of two unique colors to form something new is a kind of
Biological Assimilation

This is a scientific example of assimilation by which a combination of

two processes is used to supply an animal cell with nutrients. In
humans, biological assimilation occurs when a physical breakdown
of food happens first, through chewing and stomach churning, and
then a chemical breakdown occurs, when your body produces
enzymes and acids.
Religious Assimilation

This can be a type of cultural assimilation, as religious traditions are

often tied to one's culture. An example of religious assimilation that
has occurred is the use of Pagan traditions in modern day
Christianity. Many Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter,

are based on Pagan ceremonies and customs such as Yule and the
Spring Equinox.
Linguistic Assimilation

Linguistic assimilation is the blending of two different languages.

This also commonly happens in areas where a border is shared. A
contemporary example, though, is Denglish. Denglish is the
blending of the words Deutsche (German) and English. As English
has spread around the world and is becoming used as the common
language between many different countries, the German language
has begun to adopt words and phrases from English. This blend that
is prevalent in German culture today has become known as
These examples of assimilation show that the term has a broad
definition. It can be used to reference a negative process, in which a
minority is forced to rid themselves of what makes them unique.
However, this is merely forced assimilation. There are several other
types of assimilation, such as cultural, religious, and linguistic.
Biological assimilation is a solid example of how assimilation can be
a positive and organic process.

Does cultural assimilation has a beneficial or

detrimental effect on society
Two types of assimilation
Enforced assimilation which is when the dominant group refuses to allow
the minority to practice its religion, speaks its language or follow its customs.
Permissible assimilation, in contrast, permits the minority to adopt the
dominant groups patterns in its own way and act its own speed.
Some advantages of assimilation include that it strengthens relationships and spirits, boosts the
number of the assimilated individuals in the workforce and enhances tourism. Some
disadvantages of assimilation include possible increases in illegal activities, the loss of
individual identity and the loss of cultural traditions.

Assimilation strengthens the individual in relation to others by fostering a sense of unity

and purpose with others. This sense of unity and purpose helps increase the number of
productive individuals serving in the workforce, which is beneficial to both companies
and communities. Assimilation can also help provide a more unified regional or national
identity, which can boost tourism in that area.
At the same time, assimilation has a number of potential drawbacks. Those who feel
marginalized by the attempt to create a unified cultural identity may turn to illegal
activities, which harms both the culture and the community. A bigger concern about
assimilation is the loss of individual identity. This is because people are actively
encouraged to leave behind aspects of who they are in favor of new, assimilated
identities. On the cultural level, this also endangers key cultural traditions by
encouraging individuals to take up new traditions in order to create new cultural

Pros of Assimilation
Spiritual and Relationship Strengthening: Assimilation or adopting leads to

strengthening the relationship of the person. A lot, bring to a common

misleading notion which new and latest believers should feed off that already
Increased amount of individual in the labor force for performing
jobs: Assimilation boosts the number of individuals in the labor force, thus

result to doing the job easily and fast. This enhances the production and in
return increase the gain and profit of the company.
Enhance Tourism: Assimilation also enhances tourism because people who

have households try to have vacation in which host country.

Assimilation helps you to know the culture of the host country and allow you to
grow as a person

Cons of Assimilation
There is also drawback reported in the process of assimilation or adopting
such as:
The Possibilities of Doing Unlawful Activities: Unemployed individual can take

in selling prohibited drugs, drug trafficking, prostitution, robbery and other

Possibility of Losing Your Identity: The definition behind adopting is not the

passive melting pot factor, but instead you are made actively to lose your
personal cultural individuality and embrace another. One of the greatest
drawbacks of this procedure is that people lose the foundation of what molds
him or her and a lot of things which make them exceptional as a diverse
culture and individual groups.
The Possibility of Losing the Tradition: Simply because several times during

adopting, individual start concentrating or attempting so hard or so much into

adopting it and assimilating to the society or the environment which they start
to lose their culture, tradition and identity.
Assimilation is indeed important to grow and to become familiar with another
culture, but it also comes with a drawback such as losing your tradition and
identity. So, prior to embarking this procedure you have to weigh the pros and
cons of assimilation