Article

Assimilation

Van C. Tran

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0101
Assimilation

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The study of immigrant assimilation has had a central place in the discipline of sociology, beginning with sociologists of the Chicago school trying to understand the incorporation of European immigrants and their descendants at the turn of the 20th century. Since 1965, tens of millions of “new” immigrants have arrived, and this influx has rekindled an entire subfield of migration studies in sociology and, to a lesser extent, in anthropology, political science, economics, and history as well. As a result, assimilation research is an interdisciplinary field with a lot of new and exciting scholarships being produced, alongside lively and contentious debates about the fate and fortune of the new second generation (i.e., defined as those who are born in the United States to immigrant parents). Most central to this debate are the theory of straight-line assimilation (and its revised formulations), which was based on the experience of white ethnic groups in the earlier period, and the theory of segmented assimilation, which posits divergent paths for different post-1965 ethnic groups. The study of immigrant assimilation is important because it provides insights on not only how immigrants and their children have been incorporated into the United States, but also how their incorporation might reshape patterns of ethnic and racial inequality. Assimilation also has the potential to affect virtually all aspects of the host society, from its religion and culture to its economy and politics. Because assimilation research is highly interdisciplinary and spans different disciplinary boundaries, an exhaustive bibliography is beyond the scope of this entry. Specifically, this article focuses first and foremost on research done by sociologists, with a primary focus on the United States. Even though assimilation and incorporation are likely to be important factors in most other national and regional contexts, including Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, the majority of the work on this topic has originated in the United States, a country with a significant history of immigrant incorporation. However, this article does strive to include work from a multidisciplinary perspective and relevant comparisons to Europe and other countries when appropriate, although the United States would remain the central point of reference even in these cross-national comparisons. In order to make this effort manageable, this article limits itself to only English-language publications.

Article.  16087 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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