As people around the world become more and more interconnected, cultural assimilation is more likely to take place. This process is one whereby one culture comes to resemble that of another; it can occur on the individual level or with entire societies. When people migrate to a new area, they can be pressured to leave their old cultural identities behind and become more like the culture to which they have moved. If this takes place and their cultural practices more closely resemble their new surroundings as opposed to their former ones, they are said to have been assimilated into the dominant culture. Sometimes this is done as a matter of survival, such as adopting the language of the new environment in order to effectively communicate. Other times, this is done as a matter of peer pressure, such as changing one’s clothing style to avoid criticism.
Assimilation can be partial or complete. If small changes are made to a person’s cultural identity, they are partially assimilating with their new culture. Changes to language and clothing, for example, are indicative of partial assimilation. Complete assimilation takes place when a new person in a given society looks no different from those who have existed there for a lengthy period of time. In the United States, complete assimilation is almost impossible to discern due to the wide array of cultural traits that make up American culture. Because ethnic neighborhoods still exist, because food choices still reflect great cultural diversity, individuals are not required to abandon their former cultural traits to integrate into the larger American society and culture.