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Mr. Armstrong

Melting Pot or a Salad Bowl Article

Read the section of article below from the following website: ( Be prepared to choose a side and discuss whether you agree with the Melting Pot theory or Salad Bowl theory. On a separate sheet of paper you will need to develop and be able to EXPLAIN 3 reasons why you support which theory you chose based on the article and discussion in class.

Melting pot, cultural pluralism, multiculturalism

The concept of multiculturalism was preceded by the concept of cultural pluralism, which was first developed in the 1910s and 1920s, and became widely popular during the 1940s. The concept of cultural pluralism first emerged in the 1910s and 1920s among intellectual circles out of the debates in the United States over how to approach issues of immigration and national identity.

The First World War heightened tensions between Anglo-American and German-Americans. The war and the Russian Revolution, which caused a "Red Scare" in the US, also fanned feelings of xenophobia. During and immediately after the First World War, the concept of the melting pot was equated by Nativists with complete cultural assimilation towards an Anglo-American norm ("Anglo-conformity") on the part of immigrants, and immigrants who opposed such assimilation were accused of disloyalty to the United States.

The newly popularized concept of the melting pot was frequently equated with "Americanization", meaning cultural assimilation, by many "old stock" Americans. In Henry Ford's Ford English School (established in 1914), the graduation ceremony for immigrant employees involved symbolically stepping off an immigrant ship and passing through the melting pot, entering at one end in costumes designating their nationality and emerging at the other end in identical suits and waving American flags. However, not all "old stock" Americans believed that immigrants could be assimilated.

In the United States, where the term melting pot is still commonly used, despite being largely disregarded by modern sociologists as an outdated and diffuse term, the ideas of cultural pluralism and multiculturalism have largely replaced the idea of assimilation. Alternate models where immigrants retain their native cultures such as the 'salad bowl' or the 'symphony' are more often used by prominent sociologists to describe how cultures and ethnicities mix in the United States. Nonetheless, the term assimilation is still used to describe the ways in which immigrants and their descendants adapt, such as by increasingly using the national language of the host society as their first language.

Since the 1960s, most of the research in Sociology and History has disregarded the melting pot theory for describing inter-ethnic relations in the United States and other counties. The theory of multiculturalism offers alternative analogies for ethnic interaction including salad bowl theory, or, as it is known in Canada, the cultural mosaic. In the 1990s, political correctness in the U.S. emphasized that each ethnic and national group has the right to maintain and preserve its cultural distinction and integrity, and that one doesn't need to assimilate or abandon one's heritage in order to blend in or merge into the majority European/Anglo-Saxon/American society.

In the multicultural approach, each "ingredient" retains its integrity and flavor, while contributing to a successful final product. In recent years, this approach has been officially promoted in traditional melting-pot societies such as Australia, Canada and Britain, with the intent of becoming more tolerant of immigrant diversity.

The decision of whether to support a melting-pot or multicultural approach has developed into an issue of much debate within some countries. For example, the French and British governments and populace are currently debating whether Islamic cultural practices and dress conflict with their attempts to form culturally unified countries.

Salad Bowl view (Also known as Multiculturalists)

Multiculturalists typically support loose immigration controls and programs such as bilingual education and affirmative action, which offer certain privileges to minority and/or immigrant groups.

Multiculturalists claim that assimilation can hurt minority cultures by stripping away their distinctive features. They point to situations where institutions of the dominant culture initiate programs to assimilate or integrate minority cultures.

Although some multiculturalists admit that assimilation may result in a relatively homogeneous society, with a strong sense of nationalism, they warn however, that where minorities are strongly urged to assimilate, there may arise groups which fiercely oppose integration. With assimilation, immigrants lose their original cultural (and often linguistic) identity and so do their children. Immigrants who fled persecution or a country devastated by war were historically resilient to abandoning their heritage once they had settled in a new country.

Multiculturalists note that assimilation, in practice, has often been forced, and has caused immigrants to have severed ties with family abroad. In the United States, the use of languages other than English in a classroom setting has traditionally been discouraged. Decades of this policy may have contributed to the fact—lamented by multiculturalists—that more than 80 percent of Americans speak only English at home. While an estimated 60 million U.S. citizens are of German descent, forming the largest ethnic group of American citizens, barely one million of them reported speaking German in their homes in the 2000 Census.

Melting Pot view (Also known as Assimilationists)

Whereas multiculturalists tend to view the melting-pot theory as oppressive, assimilationists view it as advantageous to both a government and its people. Some tend to favor controlled levels of immigration—enough to benefit society economically, but not enough to profoundly alter it. Assimilationists tend to be opposed to programs that, in their view, give out special privileges to minorities at the expense of the majority.

Assimilationists tend to believe that their nation has reached its present state of development because it has been able to forge one national identity. They argue that separating citizens by ethnicity or race and providing immigrant groups "special privileges" can harm the very groups they are intended to help. By calling attention to differences between these groups and the majority, the government may foster resentment towards them by the majority and, in turn, cause the immigrant group to turn inward and shun mainstream culture. Assimilationists suggest that if a society makes a full effort to incorporate immigrants into the mainstream, immigrants will then naturally work to reciprocate the gesture and adopt new customs. Through this process, it is argued, national unity is retained.

Assimilationists also argue that the multiculturalist policy of freer immigration is unworkable in an era in which the supply of immigrants from third world countries seems limitless. With immigrants often coming from multiple points of origin, it may be excessively expensive to meet their needs. From an employment perspective, they note that job markets are often tight to begin with and that expecting large amounts of newcomers to find work each year is unrealistic. Allowing high levels of immigration, it is argued, will inevitably lead to widespread poverty and other forms of disadvantage among immigrants. The melting-pot theory works best, in their view, when the "ingredients" are added in modest increments, so that they can be properly absorbed into the whole.

A Compromise Between Multiculturalists and Assimilationists?

There also exists a view that attempts to reconcile some of the differences between multiculturalists and assimilationists. Proponents of this view propose that immigrants need not completely abandon their culture and traditions in order to reach the goal that the melting pot theory seeks. This reasoning relies on the assumption that immigrants can be persuaded to ultimately consider themselves a citizen of their new nation first and of their nation of birth second. In this way, they may still retain and practice all of their cultural traditions but "when push comes to shove" they will put their host nation's interests first. If this can be accomplished, immigrants will then avoid hindering the progress, unity and growth that assimilationsts argue are the positive results of the melting pot theory—while simultaneously appeasing some of the multiculturalists.

This compromise view also supports a strong stance on immigration and a primary language in school with the option to study foreign languages. (A consensus on affirmative action does not currently exist.) Proponents of this compromise claim that the difference with this view and that of the assimilationists is that while their view of the melting pot essentially strips immigrants of their culture, the compromise allows immigrants to continue practicing and propagating their cultures from generation to generation and yet sustain and instill a love for their host country first and above all. Whether this kind of delicate balance between host and native countries among immigrants can be achieved remains to be seen.

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