Gordons Theory on Assimilation

Midterm Midterm Paper One October 31, 2011 Midterm Paper One I choose to do Gordon’s theory for my paper because I thought his idea of assimilation was very interesting. The thought that a group had to go through seven sub-processes in order to fully assimilate seemed somewhat extreme for me. America was based on freedom and everyone being able to be different. So based on Gordon’s theory, in the first stage people are losing their culture, through changing eating habits, new value system, and or altering the family name.

These are all important items that people carry on for generations that make their group special. I think for people to think that assimilation needs to happen in all categories for someone to be fully functional in American society is wrong. I believe that people can keep a part of themselves that was once were they came from and still be fully American. I don’t see that stages one and two must be done in a specific order. Stage one the acculturation (cultural assimilation), sometimes is never done with some minorities or only done partial.

They may learn English, but everything else stays the same (e. g. eating habits, value systems). Integration (structural assimilation) is done more easily because everyone must go out into the world and work or go to school. So they may actually assimilate quicker within secondary sector. Like Gordon stated in Healy once they enter into the public institution it is a matter of time before they assimilate into the primary sector and the other stages of assimilation.

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Even though I believe that is true; people when they go to work or school or any other public institution are likely to make friends with other groups of people including the dominant group but I still believe that they can keep their culture and those aspects of themselves that have been with their family for generations. It does appear with different minority groups that acculturation (cultural assimilation) is easier than others.

Some groups are very strong in their culture and no matter how long they have been here they still continue at least in their home life what has been a foundation for them. There are other groups that assimilate very easily and the loss of the previous culture is not a big deal. They believe that conforming to the Anglo-American culture is what they are supposed or want to do. Gordon stated that acculturation (cultural assimilation) was a crucial part of being able to move on to the other steps.

I don’t believe that to be true, there are plenty examples of minority groups completing integration (structural assimilation) and also the intermarriage (martial assimilation) without fully completing the acculturation (cultural assimilation) process. I believe maybe in 1964 when Gordon created his book, that may have been true due to the dominant group not wanting to deal with minorities that had not fully assimilated but I don’t believe that is true in modern society today. When reviewing stage three intermarriage (marital assimilation) I can see that it is a key component of fully completing stage one.

When you marry outside your group, it is only a matter of time before someone in the marriage gives up some of their group culture to assimilate with their spouse and their cultural. I don’t think intermarriage is such big thing in this present time, people marry all the time with other groups and combine their culture or abandon it altogether for Anglo-American culture because that is the easiest thing to do. I also see a lot of groups that don’t marry outside their group, but are still assimilating to the American culture.

They seem to keep religion and food as the key components of their culture, and marry within their group, while still completing integration through the institutions. In the movie Skin Deep there was some assimilation from the students due to the majority of them are being a minority. I think for the white students though that grew up around mainly only other white people, they had to assimilate themselves with the students that were minorities. Even though they were the dominant group, they had to come together with other groups and have a common culture and merge socially.

For some of the white students even though they were assimilating within the institution it was clear in primary sector they still mainly only had white close friends and family, which seemed true also with some of the minorities in the movie also. In conclusion I believe that everyone and every group will assimilate differently, based on when they arrived and where they came from. Some may assimilate easier then others but they will all in someone or another adopt some of the Anglo-American Culture if not in the first generation but in the generations that follow.