Assimilation - Sociology

Topics: Racism, Minority group, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 6 (1981 words) Published: October 22, 2010
In the sociology, assimilation is the process of integration whereby immigrants, or other minority groups, are "absorbed" into a generally larger community. This presumes a loss of all characteristics which make the newcomers different. A region where assimilation is occurring is sometimes referred to as a " melting pot". Assimilation can be voluntary, which is usually the case with immigrants, or forced upon a group, as is usually the case with the receiving "host" group. Immigration is generally thought to be in the interest of the politically and economically powerful elites and not in the interest of the weak. This integration, or "making many into one", is one of the goals of affirmative action. Where national groups are strongly urged to assimilate, there often is a lot of resistance in spite of the use of governmental force. Discrimination

Discrimination, in its sociological meaning, involves highly complex social processes. The term derives from the Latin discriminatio, which means to perceive distinctions among phenomena or to be selective in one's judgment. Cognitive psychology retains the first of these meanings, popular usage the second. Individual behavior that limits the opportunities of a particular group is encompassed in many sociological considerations of discrimination. But exclusively individualistic approaches are too narrow for robust sociological treatment. Instead, sociologists understand discrimination not as isolated individual acts, but as a complex system of social relations that produces intergroup inequities in social outcomes. This definitional expansion transforms "discrimination" into a truly sociological concept. But in its breadth, the sociological definition leaves room for ambiguity and controversy. Obstacles to consensus on what constitutes discrimination stem from two sources—one empirical, the other ideological and political. First, deficiencies in analysis and evidence limit our ability to trace thoroughly the dynamic web of effects produced by discrimination. Second, because social discrimination is contrary to professed national values and law, a judgment that unequal outcomes reflect discrimination is a call for costly remedies. Variable willingness to bear those social costs contributes to dissension about the extent of discrimination. The broadest sociological definitions of discrimination assume that racial minorities, women, and other historical target groups have no inherent characteristics that warrant inferior social outcomes. Ethnicity is the cultural characteristics that connect a particular group or groups of people to each other. "Ethnicity" is sometimes used as a euphemism for "race", or as a synonym for minority group. While ethnicity and race are related concepts, the concept of ethnicity is rooted in the idea of societal groups, marked especially by shared nationality, tribal afilliation, religious faith, shared language, or cultural and traditional origins and backgrounds, whereas race is rooted in the idea of biological classification of homo sapiens to subspecies according to morphological features such as skin color or facial characteristics. It is a term also used to justify real or imagined historic ties as well. In English, Ethnicity goes far beyond the modern ties of a person to a particular nation (e.g., citizenship), and focuses more upon the connection to a perceived shared past and culture. See also Romanticism, folklore. In other languages, the corresponding terms for ethnicity and nationhood can be closer to each other. The 19th century saw the development of the political ideology of ethnic nationalism, when the vague concept of race was tied to nationalism, first by German theorists including Johann Gottfried von Herder. Instances of societies focusing on ethnic ties to the exclusion of history or historical context arguably have resulted in almost fanatical self-justifying nationalist and/or imperialist goals. Two periods...
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