Conundrum of an Immigrant: Assimilation versus Cultural Preservation
Journal of Identity and Migration Studies Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 36-54, Autumn/Winter 2012
19 Pages Posted: 7 May 2013
Date Written: 2012
As immigration continues to describe the reality of virtually all industrialized countries, the discourse about its phenomenology and permutations of character as well as policy responses in open, industrialized and market-driven societies related to immigration continue to be among the most heavily researched issues as they drive social and demographic change in significant ways. The fundamental polarity remains between the traditional model of assimilation as compared to the cultural preservation under various models of multiculturalism – aside, of course, from hybrid forms and structuralist approaches. This article examines broad issues of cultural identity, bilingualism, the benefits of membership in a minority group, the changing role of religion (primarily Islam), education and intermarriage, and the significant deviations from the legacy culture minority groups sometimes develop in the process of acculturation without making a full transition to majority culture. At a time when the economic benefits of assimilation appear to be increasingly less controlling in struggles for cultural identity and immigrant rights, there is a number of paradoxes that becomes visible only by taking a historical view over the last twenty years at both the American and European experiences to understand socio-political backlashes from majority voters as well as immigrant responses thereto.
Keywords: assimilation, cultural preservation, multiculturalism, immigrants, bilingualism, hybrid traditions
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation