The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject
. (June 2021)
Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society's majority group or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group whether fully or partially. There are different forms of cultural assimilation. Some types of cultural assimilation resemble acculturation in which a minority group or culture completely assimilates into the dominant culture in which defining characteristics of the minority culture are less obverse or outright disappear; while in other types of cultural assimilation such as cultural integration mostly found in multicultural communities, a minority group within a given society adopts aspects of the dominant culture through either cultural diffusion or for practical reason like adapting to another society's social norms while retaining their original culture. A conceptualization describes cultural assimilation as similar to acculturation while another merely considers the former as one of the latter's phases. Throughout history there have been different forms of cultural assimilation examples of types of acculturation include voluntary and involuntary assimilation. Assimilation could also involve the so-called additive acculturation wherein, instead of replacing the ancestral culture, an individual expands their existing cultural repertoire.
Cultural assimilation may involve either a quick or a gradual change depending on the circumstances of the group. Full assimilation occurs when members of a society become indistinguishable from those of the group dominating that society.
Whether a given group should assimilate is often disputed by both members of the group and others in society. Cultural assimilation does not guarantee social alikeness. Geographical and other natural barriers between cultures, even if created by the predominant culture, may be culturally different. Cultural assimilation can happen either spontaneously or forcibly, the latter when more dominant cultures use various means aimed at forced assimilation.
Various types of assimilation, including forced cultural assimilation, is particularly relevant in regards to Indigenous groups during colonialism taking place between the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This type of assimilation included religious conversion, separation of families, changes of gender roles, division of property among foreign power, elimination of local economies and lack of sustainable food supply. Whether via colonialism or within one nation, methods of forced assimilation are often unsustainable, leading to revolts and collapses of power to maintain control over cultural norms. Often, cultures that are forced into different cultural practices through forced cultural assimilation will revert to their native practices, and religions that differ from the forced cultural values from other dominant powers. In addition throughout history, voluntary assimilation is often in response to pressure from a more predominant culture, and conformity is a solution for people to remain in safety. An example of voluntary cultural assimilation would be during the Spanish Inquisition when Jews and Muslims accepted the Roman Catholic Church as their religion, meanwhile, in private, many people still practised their traditional religions. This type of assimilation is used to convince a dominant power that a culture has peacefully assimilated yet often voluntary assimilation does not mean the group fully conforms to the accepted cultural beliefs.
The term "assimilation" is often used with regard to not only Indigenous groups but also immigrants settled in a new land. A new culture and new attitudes toward the origin culture are obtained through contact and communication. Assimilation assumes that a relatively-tenuous culture gets to be united to one unified culture. That process happens by contact and accommodation between each culture. The current definition of assimilation is usually used to refer to immigrants, but in multiculturalism, cultural assimilation can happen all over the world and within varying social contexts and is not limited to specific areas.
Legislation applying the policy of "protection" over Aboriginal Australians (separating them from white society) was adopted in some states and territories of Australia when they were still colonies, before the federation of Australia: in the Victoria in 1867, Western Australia in 1886, and Queensland in 1897. After federation, New South Wales crafted their policy in 1909, South Australia and the Northern Territory (which was under the control and of South Australia at the time) in 1910–11. Mission stations missions and Government-run Aboriginal reserves were created, and Aboriginal people moved onto them. Legislation restricted their movement, prohibited alcohol use and regulated employment. The policies were reinforced in the first half of the 20th century (when it was realised that Aboriginal people would not die out or be fully absorbed in white society) such as in the provisions of the Welfare Ordinance 1953, in which Aboriginal people were made wards of the state. "Part-Aboriginal" (known as half-caste) children were forcibly removed from their parents in order to educate them in European ways; the girls were often trained to be domestic servants. The protectionist policies were discontinued, and an assimilation policies took over. These proposed that "full-blood" Indigenous Australians should be allowed to “die out”, while "half-castes" were encouraged to assimilate into the white community. Indigenous people were regarded as inferior to white people by these policies, and often experienced discrimination in the predominantly white towns after having to move to seek work.
Between 1910 and 1970, several generations of Indigenous children were removed from their parents, and have become known as the Stolen Generations. The policy has done lasting damage to individuals, family and Indigenous culture. It also resulted in a group of people called the Hidden Generations, a group of Indigenous peoples who became hidden in response to colonisation.
Canada 1800s–1990s: Forced assimilation
During the 19th and 20th centuries, and continuing until 1996, when the Canadian Indian residential school was closed, the Canadian government, aided by Christian Churches began a campaign to forcibly assimilate Indigenous peoples in Canada. The government consolidated power over Indigenous land through treaties and the use of force, eventually isolating most Indigenous peoples to reserves. Marriage practices and spiritual ceremonies were banned, and spiritual leaders were imprisoned. Additionally, the Canadian government instituted an extensive residential school system to assimilate children. Indigenous children were separated from their families and no longer permitted to express their culture at these new schools. They were not allowed to speak their language or practise their own traditions without receiving punishment. There were many cases in which violent or sexual abuse by the Christian church was committed. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that this effort amounted to cultural genocide. The schools actively worked to alienate children from their cultural roots. Students were prohibited from speaking their native languages, were regularly abused, and were arranged marriages by the government after their graduation. The explicit goal of the Canadian government, through the Catholic and Anglican churches, was to completely assimilate Indigenous peoples into broader Canadian society and destroy all traces of their native history.
In January 2019, newly elected Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro has stripped the Indigenous affairs agency FUNAI of the responsibility to identify and demarcate Indigenous lands. He argued that those territories have very tiny isolated populations and proposed to integrate them into the larger Brazilian society. According to the Survival International, "Taking responsibility for Indigenous land demarcation away from FUNAI, the Indian affairs department, and giving it to the Agriculture Ministry is virtually a declaration of open warfare against Brazil’s tribal peoples."
A major contributor to cultural assimilation in South America began during exploration and colonialism that often is thoughtRoman Catholic Church, acceptance of Spanish or Portuguese over Indigenous languages and accepting European-style government.
to begin in 1492 when Europeans began to explore the Atlantic in search of "the Indies", leading to the discovery of the Americas. Europe remained dominant over the Americas' Indigenous populations as resources such as labor, natural resources i.e. lumber, copper, gold, silver and agricultural products flooded into Europe, yet these gains were one-sided, as Indigenous groups did not benefit from trade deals with colonial powers. In addition to this, colonial metropoles such as Portugal and Spain required that colonies in South America assimilate to European customs - such as following the Holy
Through forced cultural assimilation, colonial powers such as Spain used methods of violence to assert cultural dominance over Indigenous populations. One example occurred in 1519 when the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés reached Tenochtitlán - the original capital of the Aztec Empire in Mexico. After discovering that the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice, Cortés killed high-ranked Aztecs and held Moctezuma II, the Aztec ruler, captive. Shortly after, Cortés began creating alliances to resume power in Tenochtitlán and renamed it Mexico City. Without taking away power through murder and spread of infectious diseases the Spanish conquistadores (relatively small in number) would not have been able to take over Mexico and convert many people to Catholicism and slavery. While Spaniards influenced linguistic and religious cultural assimilation among Indigenous peoples in South America during colonialism, many Indigenous languages such as the Incan language Quechua are still used in places such as Peru to this day by at least 4 million people. This demonstrates that forced cultural assimilation is not long-term or fully effective on different cultures such as the Indigenous peoples in Latin America.
In the course of the colonisation of New Zealand from the late-18th century onwards, assimilation of the indigenous Maori population to the culture of incoming European visitors and settlers at first occurred spontaneously. Genetic assimilation commenced early and continued – the 1961 New Zealand census classified only 62.2% of Māori as "full-blood Maoris".
(Compare Pākehā Māori.) Linguistic assimilation also occurred early and ongoingly: European settler populations adopted and adapted Māori words, while European languages affected Māori vocabulary (and possibly phonology).
In the 19th century colonial governments de facto encouraged assimilation; by the late-20th century policies favored supporting bicultural development. Māori readily and early adopted some aspects of European-borne material culture (metals, muskets, potatoes) relatively rapidly. Imported ideas – such as writing, Christianity, monarchy, sectarianism, everyday European-style clothing, or disapproval of slavery – spread more slowly. Later developments (socialism, anti-colonialist theory, New Age ideas) have proven more internationally mobile. One long-standing view presents Māori communalism as unassimilated with European-style individualism.
Social scientists rely on four primary benchmarks to assess immigrant assimilation: socioeconomic status, geographic distribution, second language attainment, and intermarriage. William A.V. Clark defines immigrant assimilation in the United States as "a way of understanding the social dynamics of American society and that it is the process that occurs spontaneously and often unintended in the course of interaction between majority and minority groups."
Studies have also noted the positive effects of immigrant assimilation. A study by Bleakley and Chin (2010) found that people who arrived at or before the age of nine from non-English speaking countries tend to speak English at a similar level as those from English speaking countries. Conversely, those who arrived after nine from non- English speaking countries have much lower speaking proficiency and this increases linearly with age at arrival. The study also noted sociocultural impacts such as those with better English skills are less likely to be currently married, more likely to divorce, have fewer children, and have spouses closer to their age. A 2014 study done by Verkuyten found that immigrant children who adapt through integration or assimilation are received more positively by their peers than those who adapt through marginalization or separation.
Perspective of dominant culture
There has been little to no existing research or evidence that demonstrates whether and how immigrant's mobility gains—assimilating to a dominant country such as language ability, socioeconomic status etc.— causes changes in the perception of those who were born in the dominant country. This essential type of research provides information on how immigrants are accepted into dominant countries. In an article by Ariela Schachter, titled "From "different" to "similar": an experimental approach to understanding assimilation", a survey was taken of white American citizens to view their perception of immigrants who now resided in the United States. The survey indicated the whites tolerated immigrants in their home country. White natives are open to having "structural" relation with the immigrants-origin individuals, for instance, friends and neighbours; however, this was with the exception of black immigrants and natives and undocumented immigrants. However, at the same time, white Americans viewed all non-white Americans, regardless of legal status, as dissimilar.
A similar journal by Jens Hainmueller and Daniel J. Hopkins titled "The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes toward Immigrants" confirmed similar attitudes towards immigrants. The researchers used an experiment to reach their goal which was to test nine theoretical relevant attributes of hypothetical immigrants. Asking a population-based sample of U.S citizens to decide between pairs of immigrants applying for admission to the United States, the U.S citizen would see an application with information for two immigrants including notes about their education status, country, origin, and other attributes. The results showed Americans viewed educated immigrants in high-status jobs favourably, whereas they view the following groups unfavourably: those who lack plans to work, those who entered without authorization, those who are not fluent in English and those of Iraqi descent.
Adaptation to new country
As the number of international students entering the US has increased, so has the number of international students in US colleges and universities. The adaption of these newcomers is important in cross-cultural research. In the study "Cross-Cultural Adaptation of International College Student in the United States" by Yikang Wang, the goal was to examine how the psychological and socio-cultural adaption of international college students varied over time. The survey contained a sample of 169 international students attending a coeducational public university. The two subtypes of adaption: psychological and socio-cultural were examined. Psychological adaption refers to "feelings of well-being or satisfaction during cross-cultural transitions;" while socio-cultural refers to the ability to fit into the new culture. The results show both graduate and undergraduate students showed both the satisfactory and socio-cultural skilled changed over time. Psychological adaption had the most significant change for a student who has resided in the US for at least 24 months while socio-cultural adaption steadily increased over time. It can be concluded that eventually over time, the minority group will shed some of their culture's characteristic when in a new country and incorporate new culture qualities. Also, it was confirmed that the more time spent in a new country would result in becoming more accustomed to the dominate countries aspects of characteristics.
Figure 2 demonstrates as the length of time resided in the United States increase—the dominant country, the life satisfaction and socio-cultural skill increase as well—positive correlation.
In a study by Viola Angelini, "Life Satisfaction of Immigrant: Does cultural assimilation matter?", the theory of assimilation as having benefits for well-being. The goal of this study was to assess the difference between cultural assimilation and the subjective well-being of immigrants. The journal included a study that examined a "direct measure of assimilation with a host culture and immigrants' subjective well-being." Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, it was concluded that there was a positive correlation between cultural assimilation and an immigrant's life's satisfaction/wellbeing even after discarding factors such as employment status, wages, etc. "Life Satisfaction of Immigrant: Does cultural assimilation matter?" also confirms "association with life satisfaction is stronger for established immigrants than for recent ones." It was found that the more immigrants that identified with the German culture and who spoke the fluent national language—dominant country language, the more they reported to be satisfied with their lives. Life satisfaction rates were higher for those who had assimilated to the dominant country than those who had not assimilated since those who did incorporate the dominant language, religion, psychological aspects, etc.
Willingness to assimilate and cultural shock
One's willingness to assimilate is, surprisingly, not only based solely on their decision to adopt but other factors as well, such as how they are introduced to the dominant country. In the study "Examination of cultural shock, intercultural sensitivity and willingness to adopt" by Clare D’Souza, the study uses a diary method to analyze the data collected. The study involved students undergoing a study abroad tour. The results show negative intercultural sensitivity is much greater in participants who experience "culture shock". Those who experience culture shock have emotional expression and responses of hostility, anger, negativity, anxiety frustration, isolation, and regression. Also, for one who has travelled to the country before permanently moving, they would have predetermined beliefs about the culture and their status within the country. The emotional expression for this individual includes excitement, happiness, eagerness, and euphoria.
Similar to Clare D’Souza's journal "Examination of cultural shock, intercultural sensitivity and willingness to adapt," another journal titled "International Students from Melbourne Describing Their Cross-Cultural Transitions Experiences: Culture Shock, Social Interaction, and Friendship Development" by Nish Belford focuses on cultural shock. Belford interviewed international students to explore their experience after living and studying in Melbourne, Australia. The data collected were narratives from the students that focused on variables such as "cultural similarity, intercultural communication competence, intercultural friendship, and relational identity to influence their experiences." The names of the students have been changed for privacy purposes. Jules, one of the students, stated, "It's just the small things that bother me a lot. For example, if people are just walking on the floor with their shoes and then just lying on the bed with their shoes. It bothers me a lot because that's not part of my culture."
Jeremy commented, "I found a few things as a culture shock. As one of my housemates, once like she said I have a step-mother, so in India, I was like in India we don't have step-mothers – yes she was Aussie. And I mean this was one of those things. The way people speak was different." Another student described his experience as "Yeah, like in Chinese background we normally do not stare at people – when talking to people – so eye contact is quite different and when I walk down the street – like random people say hi, how are you? To me – so which I found it was quite interesting because we Chinese we don't do that, like when you stop someone and if you talk to strangers to China it can be considered that you want something from me – yeah. Yes, it is a completely different experience." Commonly, international students who come into a new country to study abroad are confronted with "strangeness."
Between 1880 and 1920, the United States took in roughly 24 million immigrants. This increase in immigration can be attributed to many historical changes. The beginning of the 21st century has also marked a massive era of immigration, and sociologists are once again trying to make sense of the impacts that immigration has on society and on the immigrants themselves.
Assimilation had various meanings in American sociology. Henry Pratt Fairchild associates American assimilation with Americanization or the melting pot theory. Some scholars also believed that assimilation and acculturation were synonymous. According to a common point of view, assimilation is a "process of interpretation and fusion" from another group or person. That may include memories, behaviours, and sentiments. By sharing their experiences and histories, they blend into the common cultural life. A related theory is structural pluralism proposed by American sociologist Milton Gordon. It describes the American situation wherein despite the cultural assimilation of ethnic groups to mainstream American society, they maintained structural separation. Gordon maintained that there is limited integration of the immigrants into American social institutions such as educational, occupational, political, and social cliques.
The long history of immigration in the established gateways means that the place of immigrants in terms of class, racial, and ethnic hierarchies in the traditional gateways is more structured or established, but on the other hand, the new gateways do not have much immigration history and so the place of immigrants in terms of class, racial, and ethnic hierarchies are less defined, and immigrants may have more influence to define their position. Secondly, the size of the new gateways may influence immigrant assimilation. Having a smaller gateway may influence the level of racial segregation among immigrants and native-born people. Thirdly, the difference in institutional arrangements may influence immigrant assimilation. Traditional gateways, unlike new gateways, have many institutions set up to help immigrants such as legal aid, bureaus, social organizations. Finally, Waters and Jimenez have only speculated that those differences may influence immigrant assimilation and the way researchers that should assess immigrant assimilation.
Canada's multicultural history dates back to the period European colonization from the 16th to 19th centuries, with waves of ethnic European emigration to the region. In the 20th century, Indian, Chinese and Japanese-Canadians were the largest immigrant group.
Canada remains one of the largest immigrant populations in the world. The 2016 census recorded 7.5 million documented immigrants, representing a fifth of the country's total population. Focus has shifted from a rhetoric of cultural assimilation to cultural integration. In contrast to assimilation, integration aims to preserve the roots of a minority society while still allowing for smooth coexistence with the dominant culture.
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New Zealand. Department of Statistics (1962). Population Census, 1961. 10. p. 23. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
Full-blood Maoris totalled 103,987 [...], or 62 2 per cent of the Maori population as it is defined for the purposes of the census.
Thomason, Sarah Grey (2001). Language Contact. Reference,Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series. Georgetown University Press. p. 135. ISBN 9780878408542. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
It is possible that, although older English loanwords were nativized into Maori phonology, newer loanwords are no longer being nativized, with the eventual result being a changed Maori phonological system.
Hoskins, Te Kawehau; McKinley, Elizabeth (2015). "New Zealand: Maori Education in Aotearoa". In Crossley, Michael; Hancock, Greg; Sprague, Terra (eds.). Education in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Education Around the World. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 9781472503589. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
The gaping disparity in outcomes between indigenous Māori students and Pākehā (New Zealand Europeans) has its genesis in the colonial provision of education for Māori driven by a social policy of cultural assimilation and social stratification for over 100 years.
Hoskins, Te Kawehau; McKinley, Elizabeth (2015). "New Zealand: Maori Education in Aotearoa". In Crossley, Michael; Hancock, Greg; Sprague, Terra (eds.). Education in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Education Around the World. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 9781472503589. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
From the 1970s, Maori activism across the social field has led to [...] a formal social policy of biculturalism and iwi (tribes) positioned as partners with the state.
Neich, Roger (2001). Carved Histories: Rotorua Ngati Tarawhai Woodcarving. Auckland: Auckland University Press. p. 147. ISBN 9781869402570. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
The change from stone to metal tools occurred at different times in different areas of the North Island, depending on the amount of contact with European visitors. In the coastal areas this happened very early, starting with the metal obtained from Captain Cook's men and other eighteenth-century explorers such as Jean-Francois-Marie de Durville and Marion du Fresne, followed very soon after by the sealers and whalers. Away from the coasts, the first metals arrived later, in the early nineteenth century, usually as trade items brought by missionary explorers.
Smith, Ian (2019). "Sojourning settlers". Pākehā Settlements in a Māori World: New Zealand Archaeology 1769–1860. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books (published 2020). p. 129. ISBN 9780947492496. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
It appears that firearms were first acquired by Māori somewhere in the northern North Island about 1806 or 1807.
Harris, Warwick; Kapoor, Promila, eds. (1988). Nga Mahi Maori O Te Wao Nui a Tane: Contributions to an International Workshop on Ethnobotany, Te Rehua Marae, Christchurch, New Zealand, 22-26 February 1988. Botany Division, DSIR. p. 181. ISBN 9780477025799. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
The first record of potatoes being grown in New Zealand is dated 1769. [...] The Maori community were quick to see the advantages the potato had over the kumara: its greater cold tolerance, better storage qualities and higher yields.
McKenzie, Donald Francis (1985). Oral Culture, Literacy & Print in early New Zealand: The Treaty of Waitangi. Wellington: Victoria University Press. p. 20. ISBN 9780864730435. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
In the early 1830s we see the hesitant beginnings of letter writing in written requests for baptism [...]. The effective use of letters for political purposes was many years away. Nor did printing of itself become a re-expressive tool for the Maori until the late 1850s.
Crosby, Alfred W. (1986). Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Studies in Environment and History (2 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (published 2004). p. 246. ISBN 9781107394049. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
There were no Maori conversions up to 1825, and only a few - usually of the moribund - between 1825 and 1830.
King, Michael (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand. ReadHowYouWant.com (published 2011). p. 286. ISBN 9781459623750. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
Traditional Maori clothing had gone out of general use by the 1850s (and much earlier in communities associated with whaling and trading and those close to European settlements), though it would still be donned, especially cloaks, for ceremonial occasions and cultural performances. As the European settler population had begun to swell in the 1840s, so European clothes, new and second-hand, had become widely available along with blankets, which had the advantage of being usable as clothing and/or bedding.
Petrie, Hazel (2015). Outcasts of the Gods? The Struggle over Slavery in Maori New Zealand. Auckland University Press. ISBN 9781775587859. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
Stoddart-Smith, Carrie (2016). "Radical kaupapa Maori politics". In Godfery, Morgan (ed.). The Interregnum: Rethinking New Zealand. BWB Texts. 39. Bridget Williams Books. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780947492656. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
[...] different western ideas may complement the diverse perspectives of kaupapa Māori frameworks, but it would be an error to construe such ideas as essential to them. Many Māori drive a socialist agenda, for example, and although there are commonalities with some aspects of tikanga Māori, socialism as a political philosophy should not be seen to be implied by Māori narratives.
Buick-Constable, John (2005). "Indigenous State Relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand: A Contractual Approach to Self-determination". In Hocking, Barbara Ann (ed.). Unfinished Constitutional Business?: Rethinking Indigenous Self-determination. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. p. 120. ISBN 9780855754662. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
From the 1970s, [...] in the wake of a changed international climate of human rights and anti-colonialism, Indigenous peoples around the world sought a reinvigoration of their Indigenous identity and a renewal of their Indigenous self-determination. [...] Largely in tandem with these trends has been a renaissance of the theory and practice of contractualism [...]. The history of Maori-Crown relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand is exemplary of this contractual approach in the struggles of Maori for self-determination historically and contemporaneously.
O'Regan, Tipene (2014). New Myths and Old Politics: The Waitangi Tribunal and the Challenge of Tradition. BWB Texts. 17. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books. ISBN 9781927131992. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
[...] my Beaglehole Memorial Lecture of 1991 [...] was delivered at a time when hearings of the [Waitangi] Tribunal were becoming a battleground [...]. Māoridom itself was experiencing a remarkable efflorescence of freshly reconstructed group identities and New Age-style incorporations into Māori ethnic identity. The Waitaha movement emanating from within contemporary Ngāi Tahu was one of these.
Ward, Alan (1974). "Myths and Realities". A Show of Justice: Racial 'amalgamation' in Nineteenth Century New Zealand. Auckland University Press (published 2013). ISBN 9781869405717. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
It is often said that Western individualism is in conflict with Polynesian communalism [...]. It is hardly surprising that today Maori attitudes to the law appear more ambivalent than they did in the 1870s and 1880s.
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