Understanding Cultural Incorporation

Natasha K. Warikoo

in Balancing Acts

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262102
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947795 | DOI:
Understanding Cultural Incorporation

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This chapter discusses segmented assimilation as the predominant theory of ethnic incorporation in the United States today. The theory suggests that ethnic groups differ in their patterns of assimilation into U.S. society because they assimilate into different segments of a highly stratified American society. The cultural part of this theory, that ethnic minorities living among disadvantaged African Americans adopt anti-success behaviors, outlooks, and tastes, does not hold up against empirical observations. The chapter also discusses the cultural lives of children of immigrants in multiethnic schools in two global cities, New York and London, using the concept of cultural incorporation. The aspects of youth cultures that adults most worry about are attitudes, music tastes and clothing styles, behaviors related to conflict, and influences on peer status. These are the dimensions of children's cultural worlds that immigrants are most concerned about and which academics emphasize when trying to understand the second generation's incorporation into U.S. society. Parents, policymakers, and academics alike hope that children of immigrants do not develop negative attitudes toward schooling, that they won't learn to listen to music and don styles which signal a counterculture or rebellion, and that they won't get into fights and become as outspoken and defiant as many of their American peers. These behaviors, according to both conventional wisdom and some academic writing, are the determinants of whether children of immigrants will succeed in their lives.

Keywords: culture; ethnic minorities; youth culture; multiethnic schools; clothing styles

Chapter.  8358 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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