From Revolution to Reconstruction

Social Theories of Immigration

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Social Theories of Immigration

Sociologists have identified a few major theories on how newly arrived immigrants integrate themselves into American society. Over time all new immigrants adopt some aspects of American culture and add something new.

"Melting Pot" Theory
 According to the Melting Pot Theory peoples from various cultures come to America and contribute aspects of their culture to create a new, unique American culture. The result is that contributions from many cultures are indistinguishable from one another and are effectively "melted" together.

Salad Bowl Theory
According to the Salad Bowl Theory there are times when newly arrived immigrants do not lose the unique aspects of their cultures like in the melting pot model, instead they retain them. The unique characteristics of each culture are still identifiable within the larger American society, much like the ingredients in a salad are still identifiable, yet contribute to the overall make up of the salad bowl. It is this theory that also accounts for the retention of the "something-American" hyphenation when identifying cultural identity. This theory is also referred to as pluralism.

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