Concept of Assimilation
In the United States, the concept of assimilation is closely related the age-old desire to create and maintain a homogeneous “American” culture shared by all citizens. Unfortunately, this desire has often clashed with the desire to preserve the rich, multicultural heritages of America’s diverse population groups. In recent years, some conservatives have charged that the multicultural urge has undermined assimilation, causing many immigrants to remain burdensome outsiders rather than to integrate into the economic and cultural mainstream. Much recent research actually shows that recent immigrants closely match their predecessors in their commitment to pursue the American Dream and to adopt the core values of the society. Analyses U.S. Census Bureau data show that, although they may initially face major disadvantages, as their time spent in the United States increases, immigrants steadily assimilate in terms of such key measures as education, income, and homeownership.
Still, there are areas where assimilation remains a troublesome concept. For example, much debate now surrounds the practice of segregating students of English as a second language from native speakers. Research shows that language learners in segregated classrooms tend to do better at least on standardized tests. Yet critics charge that language segregation retards assimilation and in communities with large immigrant populations the practice has created bitter linguistic and cultural divisions within the schools. As was repeatedly the case in the past, the concept of assimilation is once again a controversial one for America society.