The Effects of Cultural Assimilation: Conformity vs. Unorthodoxdy
“Cultural assimilation is a complex and multifaceted process that first involves immigrants learning the language, cultural norms, and role expectations of the absorbing society, and further changes in attitudes”, or so it is explained by Dejun Su, Chad Richardson, and Guang-zhen Wang, in their article, “Assessing Cultural Assimilation of Mexican Americans: How Rapidly Do Their Gender-Role Attitudes Converge to the U.S. Mainstream?” (764). Throughout history and also present day society, cultural assimilation is easy to be identified, thanks to the “melting pot” quality of North America. Also, cultural assimilation is questioned about the effects it has on various groups of immigrants. Effects, such as the loss of one's identity, the struggle to attain success in the new country, the loss of one's heritage and unique background, conflict between family and friends and stereotypical discrimination in society, are demonstrated in varying degrees by the past and present generations of immigrants from the countries of Mexico, Japan and the Middle East.
Throughout history, Mexican immigrants have continuously crossed the boarder into America for the chance of a new life. However, coming to a new country inevitably has it's consequences, and the pressures of assimilation are always present. During a time of great immigration of European citizens into the United States, Mexican immigrants were not so much of a concern throughout the whole country. Katherine Benton-Cohen supports this idea in her article “Other Immigrants: Mexicans and the Dillingham Commission of 1907-1911”, by explaining that, “Unlike Japanese immigration in California—which had set international diplomatic maneuvers in motion, in this period 'American officials generally viewed Mexican immigration as a local labor issue,' not a national or international policy question” (39). As a result, the Mexican immigrants were not so quick as to forget their culture, but as long as they were willing to work for small wages, this resistance did not bother American's. Benton-Cohen also points out that “While the Mexicans are not easily assimilated, this is not of very great importance as long as most of them return to their native land after a short time”(Benton-Cohen, 38). This resulted in the effects that the Mexican immigrants were unable to attain higher wages, or to gain success in America. However, new effects came into account as time went on, and more Mexicans continuously moved to America.
Compared to past Mexican immigrant challenges, present day effects have drastically changed. As the population of Mexican immigrants has grown overtime, so has the attention and concern towards their living and adaptation to a new country. It is believed that in the article “The Kids are (Mostly) Alright: Second-Generation Assimilation” written by Richard Alba, Philip Kasinitz and Mary C. Waters, that “In general, the second generation is doing much better than its parents in educational attainment and is less concentrated in immigrant jobs” (763). However, this does not justify the fact that the pressures of cultural assimilation are much more developed in today's society than in the past. Alba then goes on to point out that “The overwhelming majority of the second generation is completely fluent in English... Yet most of its members have not reached parity with native whites, and many experience racial discrimination” (Alba, 763). This statement goes to show that the newer society of Mexican Immigrants find that resisting cultural assimilation, is a greater risk than when the older generations came to find meager jobs.
Another example of the effects the newer generation must face, would be the struggle to be successful in school. In the article, “Immigrant Families and Children (Re)Develop Identities in a New Context”, the author, Mariana Souto-Manning, talk about a young Hispanic boy...
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