TABLE OF table of CONTENTS contents
Introduction Chapter 1
up or out melting pot beyond the melting pot cultural pluralism rainbow coalition across the ideological spectrum not a single event but a process

Chapter 2

Korean immigrant Interviews Korean American Interviews infography


The history of the melting pot theory can be traced back to 1782 when J. Hector de Crevecoeur, a French settler in New York, envisioned the United States not only as land of opportunity but as a society where individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause changes in the world (Parrillo, 1997). The new nation welcomed virtually all immigrants from Europe in the belief that the United States would

CHAPTER 1 chapter 1

of the national culture.

“up” to native cultural standards, or “out” of the charmed circle

Most Americans, both those who favor and those who oppose assimilation, believe that for immigrants to assimilate, they must abandon their original cultural attributes and conform entirely to the behaviors and customs of the majority of the nativeborn population. In the terminology of the armed forces, this represents a model of “up or out”: Either immigrants bring themselves “up” to native cultural standards, or they are doomed to live “out” of the charmed circle of the national culture. Here is the example of Israel on that kind of assimilation. In the early years of the state of Israel the term melting pot, also known as “Ingathering of the Exiles”, was not a description of a process, but an official governmental doctrine of assimilating the Jewish immigrants that originally came from varying cultures. This was performed on several levels, such as educating the younger generation, with the parents not having the final say, and, to mention an anecdotal one, encouraging and sometimes forcing the new citizens to adopt a Hebrew name. Activists such as the Iraq-born Ella Shohat that an elite which developed in the early 20th Century, out of the earlier-arrived Zionist Pioneers of the Second and Third Aliyas, immigration waves, and who gained a dominant position in the Yishuv, pre-state community, since the 1930s, had formulated a new Hebrew culture, based on the values of Socialist Zionism, and imposed it on all later arrivals, at the cost of suporessing and erasing these later immigrants’ original culture. Proponents of the Melting Pot policy asserted that it applied to all newcomers to Israel equally; specifically, that Eastern European Jews were pressured to discard their Yiddish-based culture as ruthlessly as Mizrahi Jews were pressured to give up the culture which they developed during centuries of life in Arab and Muslim countries. Critics respond, however, that a cultural change effected by a struggle within the Ashkenazi-East European community, with younger people voluntarily discarding their ancestral culture and formulating a new one, is not parallel to the subsequent exporting and imposing of this new culture on others, who had no part in formulating it. Also, it was asserted that extirpating the Yiddish culture had been in itself an act of oppression only compounding what was done to the Mizrahi immigrants. Today the reaction to this doctrine is ambivalent; some say that it was a necessary measure in the founding years, while others claim that it amounted to cultural oppression. Others argue that the melting pot policy did not achieve its declared target: for example, the persons born in Israel are more similar from an economic point of view to their parents than to the rest of the population. The policy is generally not practised today though as there is less need for that - the mass immigration waves at Israel’s founding have declined. Nevertheless, one fifth of current Israel’s Jewish population have immigrated from former Soviet Union in the last two decades; The Jewish population includes other minorities such as Haredi Jews; Furthermore, 20% of Israel’s population is Arab. These factors as well as others contribute to the rise of pluralism as a common principle in the last years. And here is also an interesting case of the politics of identity in post-independence Latvia. There has been a spectrum of responses to the presence of Russians in the Newly Independent States of Eurasia, from polite disinterest to seething animosity. In the Baltics, Estonia and Latvia in particular, nationalizing states disenfranchised a large number of Russians and other non-indigenous nationalities. In order to meet the stringent citizenship requirements, Russians and other non-titulars had to meet historical residency requirements (typically requiring an individual or his or her forebears to have been living in the state prior to Soviet annexation in 1940), prove language proficiency, make loyalty oaths, and satisfy other benchmarks. Many have been unable or unwilling to meet these metrics (which are not required of titulars). In the case of Estonia, the Law on Aliens (1993) went beyond simple disenfranchisement and implied that Russians and other non-citizens (Jews, Tatars, etc.) may be subject to expulsion in the future.

“Others argue that the melting pot policy did

not achieve its declared target.”

As a result of this denial of citizenship, the Russian community complains of loss of jobs (e.g., pharmacists, lawyers, firemen, doctors, policemen and elected politicians are no longer careers open to non-citizens regardless of talent or experience), complications traveling abroad, attempts at forcible assimilation and other calculated policies intended to provoke people into emigrating. Thus many Russians, who form majorities in many areas of these states (upwards of 95 percent in some localities), are now stateless people without the ability to vote for their leaders or run for office, and whose guarantee of basic human rights within their state of residence remain tenuous. Latvia and Estonia defend the actions taken against their minority communities as an appropriate response to illegal migration conducted under the aegis of the occupying Soviet Army.

“Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God.”

In America, however, assimilation has not meant repudiating immigrant culture. Assimilation, American style has always been much more flexible and accommodating and, consequently, much more effective in achieving its purpose—to allow the United States to preserve its “national unity in the face of the influx of hordes of persons of scores of different nationalities,” in the words of the sociologist Henry Fairchild. A popular way of getting hold of the assimilation idea has been to use a metaphor, and by far the most popular metaphor has been that of the “melting pot,” a term introduced in Israel Zangwill’s 1908 play of that name: “There she lies, the great Melting-Pot—Listen! Can’t you hear the roaring and the bubbling?...Ah, what a stirring and a seething! Celt and Latin, Slav and Teuton, Greek and Syrian, black and yellow...Jew and Gentile....East and West, and North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross—how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with his purifying flame! Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God.” The term melting pot refers to the idea that societies formed by immigrant cultures, religions, end ethnic groups, will produce new hybrid social and cultural forms. The notion comes from the pot in which metals are melted at great heat, melding together into new compound, with great strength and other combined advantages. In comparison with assimilation, it implies the ability of new or subordinate groups to affect the values of the dominant group. Sometimes it is referred to as amalgamation, in the opposition to both assimilation and pluralism. Although the term melting pot may be applied to many countries in the world, such as Brazil, Bangladesh or even France, mostly referring to increased level of mixed race and culture, it is predominantly used with reference to USA and creation of the American nation, as a distinct “new breed of people” amalgamated from many various groups of immigrants. As such it is closely linked to the process of Americanisation. The theory of melting pot has been criticised both as unrealistic and racist, because it focused on the Western heritage and excluded non-European immigrants. Also, despite its proclaimed “melting” character its results have been assimilationist.

The history of the melting pot theory can be traced back to 1782 when J. Hector de Crevecoeur, a French settler in New York, envisioned the United States not only as land of opportunity but as a society where individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause changes in the world (Parrillo, 1997). The new nation welcomed virtually all immigrants from Europe in the belief that the United States would become, at least for whites, the “melting pot” of the world. This idea was adopted by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1893) who updated it with the frontier thesis. Turner believed that the challenge of frontier life was the country´s most crucial force, allowing Europeans to be “Americanised” by the wilderness (Takaki, 1993). A major influx of immigrants occurred mainly after the 1830s, when large numbers of British, Irish, and Germans began entering, to be joined after the Civil War by streams of Scandinavians and then groups from eastern and southern Europe as well as small numbers from the Middle East, China, and Japan. Before the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the American public generally took it for granted that the constant flow of newcomers from abroad, mainly Europe, brought strength and prosperity to the country. The metaphor of the “melting pot” symbolized the mystical potency of the great democracy, whereby people from every corner of the earth were fused into a harmonious and admirable blend. A decline in immigration from northwestern Europe and concerns over the problems of assimilating so many people from other areas prompted the passage in the 1920s of legislation restricting immigration, one of the measures reflecting official racism.

The melting pot reality was limited only to intermixing between Europeans with a strong emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon culture while the input of minority cultures was only minor. Non-white Americans were for centuries not regarded by most white Americans as equal citizens and suitable marriage partners. The mixing of whites and blacks, resulting in multiracial children, for which the term “miscegenation” was coined in 1863, was a taboo, and most whites opposed marriages between whites and blacks. In many states, marriage between whites and non-whites was even prohibited by state law through anti-miscegenation laws. Did therefore Non-white Americans not fit into melting pot discourses at all. Intermarriage between Anglo-Americans and white immigrant groups was acceptable as part of the melting pot narrative. But when the term was first popularized in the early twentieth century, most whites did not want to accept non-whites, and especially African-Americans, as equal citizens in America’s melting pot society. Native Americans in the United States enrolled in tribes did not have US citizenship until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, and were subjected to government policies of enforced cultural assimilation, which was termed “Americanization”.

Since the Second World War, the idea of the melting pot has become racially inclusive in the United States, gradually extending also to acceptance of marriage between whites and non-whites. This trend towards greater acceptance of ethnic and racial “minorities” by “WASPs” (Anglo-Americans and other, mainly Protestant Americans of Northern European descent) was first evident in popular culture. Since the successes of the American Civil Rights Movement and the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which allowed for a massive increase in immigration from Latin America and Asia, intermarriage between white and non-white Americans has been increasing. The taboo on marriage between whites and African Americans also appears to be fading. In 2000, the rate of black-white marriage was greater than the rate of Jewish-Gentile marriage (between Jewish Americans and other whites) in 1940.

The theory of melting pot has been criticised both as unrealistic and racist.

“The point about the

melting that it did not happen.”

The concept of melting pot should also entail mixing of various races, not only cultures.

Critics of the metaphor have spanned the ideological spectrum and mounted several different lines of attack on it. Empiricists submitted evidence that the melting pot wasn’t working as predicted and concluded, as did Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan in Beyond the Melting Pot (1963), “The point about the melting that it did not happen.” Other critics rejected the second corollary of the metaphor—that natives were changed by it, too—and saw no reason that native Americans should give up any part of their cultural attributes to “melt” into the alloy. If true assimilation were to occur, the criticism went, immigrants would have to abandon all their cultural baggage and conform to American ways. It is the immigrant, said Fairchild, representing the views of many Americans, “who must undergo the entire transformation; the true member of the American nationality is not called upon to change in the least.” A third strain of criticism was first voiced by sociologist Horace Kallen in the early part of this century. Among the most prolific American scholars of ethnicity, Kallen argued that it was not only unrealistic but cruel and harmful to force new immigrants to shed their familiar, lifelong cultural attributes as the price of admission to American society. In place of the melting pot, he called for “cultural pluralism.” In Kallen’s words, national policy should “seek to provide conditions under which each [group] might attain the cultural perfection that is proper to its kind.” One of the early critiques of the melting pot idea was Louis Adamic, novelist and journalist who wrote about the experience of American immigrants in the early 1900s and about what he called the failure of the American melting pot in Laughing in the Jungle (1932). Both the frontier thesis and the melting pot concept have been criticised as idealistic and racist as they completely excluded non-European immigrants, often also East and South Europeans. The melting pot reality was limited only to intermixing between Europeans with a strong emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon culture while the input of minority cultures was only minor. Some theorists developed a theory of the triple melting pot arguing that intermarriage was occurring between various nationalities but only within the three major religious groupings: Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish. Milton Gordon and Henry Pratt Fairchild proposed the assimilation theory as an alternative to the melting pot one (Parrillo, 1997). Many current proponents of the melting pot are inspired by the “English only” movement with exclusive emphasis on Western heritage and argument against pluralism and accommodation and related policies, such as bilingual education. Ideally the concept of melting pot should also entail mixing of various “races”, not only “cultures”. While promoting the mixing of cultures the ultimate result of the American variant of melting pot happened to be the culture of white Anglo Saxon men with minimum impact of other minority cultures. Moreover, the assumption that culture is a fixed construct is flawed. Culture should be defined more broadly as the way one approaches life and makes sense of it. Group’s beliefs are determined by conditions and so culture is a continuous process of change and its boundaries are always porous. In a racist discourse, however the culture needs to be seen as a predetermined and rigid phenomenon that would be appropriate for replacing the no longer acceptable concept of race in order to perpetuate inequalities. Many multicultural initiatives aiming at integration/ inclusion of minorities, while following the melting pot ideal, often result in assimilationist and racist outcomes. Melting pot would assume learning about other cultures in order to enhance understanding, mixing, and mutual enrichment; in practice it often tends to ignore similarities of different “races” as it does not allow to include them.

Immigrants to the U.S. should not “melt”into a common national ethnic alloy.
Cultural pluralism rejects melting-pot assimilationism not on empirical grounds, but on ideological ones. Kallen and his followers believed that immigrants to the United States should not “melt” into a common national ethnic alloy but, rather, should steadfastly hang on to their cultural ethnicity and band together for social and political purposes even after generations of residence in the United States. As such, cultural pluralism is not an alternative theory of assimilation; it is a theory opposed to assimilation. Cultural pluralism is, in fact, the philosophical antecedent of modern multiculturalism—what I call “ethnic federalism”: official recognition of distinct, essentially fixed ethnic groups and the doling out of resources based on membership in an ethnic group. Ethnic federalism explicitly rejects the notion of a transcendent American identity, the old idea that out of ethnic diversity there would emerge a single, culturally unified people. Instead, the United States is to be viewed as a vast ethnic federation—Canada’s Anglo-French arrangement, raised to the nth power. Viewing ethnic Americans as members of a federation rather than a union, ethnic federalism, a.k.a. multiculturalism, asserts that ethnic Americans have the right to proportional representation in matters of power and privilege, the right to demand that their “native” culture and putative ethnic ancestors be accorded recognition and respect, and the right to function in their “native” language (even if it is not the language of their birth or they never learned to speak it), not just at home but in the public realm.


“Life can be seen through many windows, none of them clear or opaque, less or more distorting than the others.”
Sir Isaiah Berlin, “Winston Churchill in 1940,” in Personal Impressions, p. 4.

Ethnic federalism is at all times an ideology of ethnic grievance and inevitably leads to and justifies ethnic conflict. All the nations that have ever embraced it, from Yugoslavia to Lebanon, from Belgium to Canada, have had to live with perpetual ethnic discord. Kallen’s views, however, stop significantly short of contemporary multiculturalism in their demands on the larger “native” American society. For Kallen, cultural pluralism was a defensive strategy for “unassimilable” immigrant ethnic groups that required no accommodation by the larger society. Contemporary multiculturalists, on the other hand, by making cultural pluralism the basis of ethnic federalism, demand certain ethnic rights and concessions. By emphasizing the failure of assimilation, multiculturalists hope to provide intellectual and political support for their policies. The pluralistic defense of cultural diversity typical of Vico, Herder, and James has grown more powerful in the modern world as ethnic and racial groups within multiethnic societies have increasingly sought to exercise political power and retain their cultural heritage in the face of demands for cultural conformity. In the United States the pragmatists Horace Meyer Kallen (1882–1974) and Randolph Silliman Bourne (1886–1918) supplied a spirited defense of diversity during World War I. Although the American political tradition of classical liberalism championed individual rights, it failed to extend those rights to include the right to be culturally different. Liberal rights had wrongly assumed “that men are men merely, as like as marbles and destined under uniformity of conditions to uniformity of spirit,” Kallen wrote in “Democracy versus the Melting Pot” (p. 193). The right to cultural identity was essential to selfhood, however, and Kallen called for a “Federal republic,” a “democracy of nationalities, cooperating voluntarily and autonomously in the enterprise of selfrealization through the perfection of men according to their kind” (p. 220).

Similarly Bourne’s 1916 essay “Transnational America” reminded dominant Anglo-Saxons that even the early colonists “did not come to be assimilated in an American melting-pot. They did not come to adopt the culture of the American Indian” (p. 249). Bourne also called for a “cosmopolitan federation of national colonies” within which ethnic groups “merge but they do not fuse” (pp. 258, 255). Thus an immigrant would be both a Serb and an American or both a German and an American , for example, as difference harmonized with common ground. Although both men challenged what was taken by most Anglo-Saxons to be the absolute truth regarding what it meant to be an American, Bourne went well beyond Kallen’s demand for freedom defined simply as a private right to be different. Influenced by the Enlightenment, Kallen assigned ethnicity to private life while he placed the public world in the hands of technical experts. Bourne, on the other hand, urged a national collaboration in the construction of a new national culture by all racial and ethnic groups in terms reminiscent of Herder. Contrarily then, Bourne’s freedom meant “a democratic cooperation in determining the ideals and purposes and industrial and social institutions of a country” (p. 252). Thus while Kallen’s vision served to strengthen the dominance of experts in the public sphere of work and politics, Bourne called for a “Beloved Community” that placed democratic participation and a discussion of values at the very center of public life (p. 264).

Animated by these somewhat contradictory ideals, cultural pluralism constituted a protean movement in the first half of the twentieth century in the United States. Particularly important achievements include the efforts of John Collier (1884–1968) as commissioner of Indian Affairs during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt to overturn the U.S. government’s policy of assimilation of the American Indian. Due to Collier’s efforts, Native Americans regained the right to their cultures, lands, and tribal political institutions after decades of denial. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s also reflected the principles of cultural pluralism. Alain Leroy Locke (1886–1954), America’s first African-American Rhodes scholar and a former student of William James, furnished the guiding vision of the Renaissance and helped to achieve Bourne’s “beloved community.” Finding beauty within himself, through a rebirth of black art, the “new Negro” would thereby achieve the moral dignity suited to a “collaborator and participant in American civilization” (Locke, 1925, p. 5). Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude Mackay, Jean Toomer, and others awakened black pride and offered an aesthetically and spiritually barren industrial capitalist America AfricanAmerican wisdom and beauty instead of the ashes of materialism.

During the second half of the twentieth century, cultural pluralist thought in the United States was increasingly eclipsed by the lingering commitment of liberal intellectuals to the Marxist notion of culture as mere superstructure or as determined by the more fundamental struggle for power. Nevertheless, minority groups continue to struggle to achieve cultural democracy in the early twentyfirst century’s multicultural societies. As the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, following Herder, has argued, being true to oneself requires an acknowledgment by both self and other of the indispensable role of culture in the creation of identity. Because culture imparts those particular aspects—religion, language, traditions— that make an individual or group unique, the forced assimilation of minorities to the hegemonic standard of identity by a majority group constitutes a form of oppression and violence of the spirit. This recognition has led in turn to efforts to expand the political theory of liberalism to include not only a defense of identical universal rights but the right of groups to cultural differences as well. Cultural pluralists therefore seek to supplant cultural monism or absolutism with pluralism by reconciling community with diversity in the modern world.

“We are more than a melting pot; we are a kaleidoscope.”

The multiculturalists’ rejection of the melting pot idea is seen in the metaphors they propose in its place. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson suggested that Americans are members of a “rainbow coalition.” Former New York Mayor David Dinkins saw his constituents constituting a “gorgeous mosaic.” Former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm characterized America’s ethnic groups as being like ingredients in a “salad bowl.” Barbara Jordan, recent chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, said: “We are more than a melting-pot; we are a kaleidoscope.” These counter-metaphors all share a common premise: that ethnic groups in the United States may live side by side harmoniously, but on two conditions that overturn both assumptions of the meltingpot metaphor. First, immigrants (and black Americans) should never have to (or maybe should not even want to) give up any of their original cultural attributes. And second, there never can or will be a single unified national identity that all Americans can relate to. These two principles are the foundations of cultural pluralism, the antithesis of assimilationism. Multiculturalism is the acceptance or promotion of multiple ethnic cultures, for practical reasons and/or for the sake of diversity and applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this context, multiculturalists advocate extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central.

Some countries have official policies of multiculturalism aimed at promoting social cohesion by recognizing distinct groups within a society and allowing those groups to celebrate and maintain their cultures or cultural identities. Many critics of deliberated, government-instituted policies believe they artificially perpetuate social divisions, damaging the social cohesion of the nation-state. However, proponents of multicultural programs argue that social cohesion has too often been achieved either by explicit discrimination against cultural minority groups, for example, laws that restrict the freedoms of certain groups, or by an implicit discrimination which rejects other cultural forms as being without value, for example, school programs that never teach the historic and artistic contributions of minorities. Critics of multiculturalism often charge multiculturalists with practicing cultural relativism such as judging customs and practices of other cultures in their contexts, often confusing this with moral relativism (lack of an idea of right and wrong), and they emphasize that not all cultural values and practices must be held in equal regard in every given society. They warn against special treatment that might violate the principal of equality before the law, and emphasize that citizenship denotes an tacit agreement to abide by the laws, customs and accepted value system of nation, especially in regards to those who chose to emigrate from abroad to join their newly adopted society.

Advocates of multiculturalism counter these objections by claiming that 1) the issue is not cultural relativism but the whitewashing of history, i.e., that history has been written to play up the contributions of the dominant group and to downplay the, often significant, contributions of minority groups; 2) with regards to cultural/artistic contributions, the claim that minority culture is inferior is often based less on aesthetic quality than on politically-motivated criteria; 3) the issue is often not legal equality but simply recognition that minorities do exist in the culture; and 4) many minority groups did not immigrate but were either imported or previously living on the land. Criticism of multiculturalism often debates whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical or even desirable. Nation states that, in the case of many European nations, would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations distinct culture.

Other critics argue that multiculturalism leads directly to restrictions in the rights and freedoms for certain groups and that as such, it is bad for democracy, undemocratic and against universal human rights. For instance, Susan Moller Okin wrote about this question in her essay “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” (1999). Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade long study how multiculturalism affects social trust. He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust. People in diverse communities “don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” writes Putnam.

multicultural programs often charge multiculturalists with practicing cultural relativism.

proponents of

By being compelling, idealistic, the melting-pot idea has helped to discredit the assimilation paradigm.

While all these metaphors—including the melting pot—are colorful ways of representing assimilation, they don’t go far in giving one an accurate understanding of what assimilation is really about. For example, across the ideological spectrum, they all invoke some external, impersonal assimilating agent. Who, exactly, is the “great alchemist” of the melting pot? What force tosses the salad or pieces together the mosaic? By picturing assimilation as an impersonal, automatic process and thus placing it beyond analysis, the metaphors fail to illuminate its most important secrets. Assimilation, if it is to succeed, must be a voluntary process, by both the assimilating immigrants and the assimilated-to natives. Assimilation is a human accommodation, not a mechanical production. The metaphors also mislead as to the purposes of assimilation. The melting pot is supposed to turn out an undifferentiated alloy—a uniform, ethnically neutral, American protoperson. Critics have long pointed out that this idea is far-fetched. But is it even desirable? And if it is desirable, does it really foster a shared national identity? The greatest failing of the melting-pot metaphor is that it overreaches. It exaggerates the degree to which immigrants’ ethnicity is likely to be extinguished by exposure to American society and it exaggerates the need to extinguish ethnicity. By being too compelling, too idealistic, the melting-pot idea has inadvertently helped to discredit the very assimilation paradigm it was meant to celebrate. On the other hand, behind their unexceptionable blandness, the antithetical cultural pluralist metaphors are profoundly insidious. By suggesting that the product of assimilation is mere ethnic coexistence without integration, they undermine the objectives of assimilation, even if they appear more realistic. Is assimilation only about diverse ethnic groups sharing the same national space? That much can be said for any multiethnic society. If the ethnic greens of the salad or the fragments of the mosaic do not interact and identify with each other, no meaningful assimilation is taking place.

Melting Pot came under fire when it became apparent that the mainstream public had no intention of “melting” with certain “other” races and cultures. Subsequently, American immigration policies became restrictive based on race, an example of state sponsored racism intended towards reducing the diversity of the melting pot (Laubeová). Much has been written about the so-called “myth” of the melting pot theory (Frey; Booth). However, the metaphor has persisted and epitomizes what some Americans see as an ideal model for this country. The melting pot theory, also referred to as cultural assimilation, revolves around the analogy that “the ingredients in the pot (people of different cultures and religions) are combined so as to lose their discrete identities and yield a final product of uniform consistency and flavor, which is quite different from the original inputs.” This idea differs from other analogies, particularly the salad bowl analogy where the ingredients are encouraged to retain their cultural identities, thus retaining their “integrity and flavor” while contributing to a tasty and nutritious salad. Yet another food analogy is that of the ethnic stew, where there is a level of compromise between integration and cultural distinctiveness. What these food analogies have in common is an appreciation that each of these ethnicities has something to contribute to the society as a whole. By comparing ethnic and/or cultural groups to ingredients in a recipe, we start with the assumption that each ingredient is important and the final product would not be the same if some distinct ingredient were missing. However, in the melting pot analogy, this premise is the least apparent and can be criticized for its dismissively simplistic social theories. This is one appropriate evaluation of the weaknesses of the melting pot and the tossed salad analogies:

In the case of the melting pot the aim is that all cultures become reflected in one common culture, however this is generally the culture of the dominant group - I thought this was mixed vegetable soup but I can only taste tomato. In the case of the salad bowl, cultural groups should exist separately and maintain their practices and institutions, however, Where is the dressing to cover it all? This criticism that the melting pot produces a society that primarily reflects the dominant culture instead of fusing into a completely new entity is reiterated by other sociologists, anthropologists, and cultural geographers as “Anglo-conformity” (Kivisto 151). This type of assimilation was seen as working like a one-way street and it was viewed as something that depended primarily on the cooperativeness of immigrants to be reoriented towards the dominant culture. The idea that the dominant culture would be infused with new energy through the influences of ethnic groups retaining their distinctive cultural attributes and thereby forging a new, stronger America due to their divergent cultural contributions was not given much weight by early researchers (Kivisto 152-154). It should be noted in this discussion that earlier in American sociology history, some of these terms took on distinctly different flavours. This ambiguity of terminology contributes to confusion in the current discourse. For instance, in 1901, Sarah Simons is quoted as making this conclusion with regards to assimilation: In brief, the function of assimilation is the establishment of homogeneity within the group; but this does not mean that all variation shall be crushed out. In vital matters, such as language, ideals of government, law, and education, uniformity shall prevail; in personal matters of religion and habits of life, however, individuality shall be allowed free play. Thus, the spread of “consciousness of kind” must be accompanied by the spread of consciousness of individuality (qtd. in Kivsito 153).

Furthermore, according to Peter Kivisto’s interpretation of Chicago School sociologist Robert E. Park’s writings on the subject, theories on assimilation originally differed from the melting pot fusion theory in that assimilation “signals the proliferation of diversity. Rather than enforced conformity, it makes possible a greater degree of individual autonomy” and creates “a cultural climate that is predicated by pluralism” whereby this “cultural pluralism (or multiculturalism) can coexist with assimilation” (156-157). The idea that a multiethnic society could attain an interdependent cohesion based on national solidarity while maintaining distinct cultural histories not dependent on like-minded homogeneity was thus proposed back in the early 1900’s (Kivisto 161). However, it is vital to recognize that coercive assimilation theorists often do not support the idea that immigrants should maintain distinct cultural attributes. In the modern-day discussion, coercive assimilation theories often take on a decidedly racist overtone (Laubeova), with many assimilation proponents urging Americentric policies such as English-only education, strict immigration policies, stipulations of nationalistic criteria for citizenship, and eliminating programs aimed at helping minorities (Booth; Hayworth). This issue over terminology and social metaphors is vitally important because America stands at a critical ideological turning point. Cultural geographers describe our current society as experiencing a “multicultural backlash” that will drastically affect immigration legislation and ethnic studies and possibly lead us towards a more restrictive and intolerant nation (Mitchell 641). The current discourse about cultural assimilation seeks to relegate incongruent cultural attributes to the private arena so as not to disturb the dominant society (Mitchell 642), and instead of promoting a tolerance of diversity, we see the modern-day assimilation proponents urging strict deportation and increasingly restrictive immigration policies in order to protect socalled American values (Hayworth). The stance of many coercive assimilation proponents smacks of racist overtones and is based on apprehension of “others” and exclusionary thinking more than it is based on preservation of core values. The implications of this type of proposed legislation drives fear into minority groups seeking to preserve their cultural heritage against a tide of Americentric propaganda. Ultimately, those seeking to enact coercive assimilation policies threaten to fracture the common ground of the American dream that they claim to be focused on protecting. Minority groups are nearing such numbers in this country that it is projected that the word “minority” will soon become obsolete. Enacting exclusionary policies will only fracture an already delicate social framework and potentially further disenfranchise the very groups America needs for inclusive unity.

On the other hand, multiculturalism has its own set of weak points that need further evaluation and revision. The melting pot and the tossed salad metaphors are both inherently flawed, at least sofar in their practical application. On this, there are many social theorists who are writing about a compromise between the melting pot approach and the tossed salad analogy. One such new theory is the aforementioned “ethnic stew” from Laura Laubeova, who hopes that such an analogy can help bridge the gap between the two concepts to create “a sort of pan-Hungarian goulash where the pieces of different kinds of meat still keep their solid structure.” Indeed, some sort of compromise between full assimilation and multiculturalism will be necessary to retain our multiethnic flavour while building a cohesive society. The bottom line is that people are people, not food. Despite the variety of food metaphors at our disposal, the power of this rhetoric is limited and wears thin during pragmatic application. Food metaphors can be useful, but we do not need more vague metaphors that lead to interpretive disparities. What we need is an entirely new dialogue on the subject, one that completely and clearly redefines America’s objective for a multiethnic society that allows for diversity, not just in the private realm, but also in the public sphere. We do not need a coercive assimilation program that reverts back to outdated nationalistic paranoia. We need an inclusive working social theory that unites the disparate enclaves of this society into a manageable entity moving in the same collective direction. Whether Americans will ever eventually be reformed into what Israel Zangwill called “a fusion of all races” remains to be seen (Zangwill). Right now, what America needs is a definitive social direction that leans away from coercive assimilation dogma and towards a truly inclusive national identity. True American dreamers should not settle for anything less.

“ signals the proliferation of diversity. Rather than enforced conformity, it makes possible a greater degree of individual autonomy .”

Perhaps a new assimilation metaphor should be introduced— one that depends not on a mechanical process like the melting pot but on human dynamics. Assimilation might be viewed as more akin to religious conversion than anything else. In the terms of this metaphor, the immigrant is the convert, American society is the religious order being joined, and assimilation is the process by which the conversion takes place. Just as there are many motives for people to immigrate, so are there many motives for them to change their religion: spiritual, practical (marrying a person of another faith), and materialistic (joining some churches can lead to jobs or subsidized housing). But whatever the motivation, conversion usually involves the consistent application of certain principles. Conversion is a mutual decision requiring affirmation by both the convert and the religious order he or she wishes to join. Converts are expected in most (but not all) cases to renounce their old religions. But converts do not have to change their behavior in any respects other than those that relate to the new religion. They are expected only to believe in its theological principles, observe its rituals and holidays, and live by its moral precepts. Beyond that, they can be rich or poor, practice any trade, pursue any avocational interests, and have any racial or other personal attributes. Once they undergo conversion, they are eagerly welcomed into the fellowship of believers. They have become part of “us” rather than “them.” This is undoubtedly what writer G.K. Chesterton had in mind when he said: “America is a nation with the soul of a church.”

“long-term processes that have whittled away at the social foundations of ethnic distinctions.”

In the end, however, no metaphor can do justice to the achievements and principles of assimilation, American style. As numerous sociologists have shown, assimilation is not a single event, but a process. In 1930 Robert Park observed, “Assimilation is the name given to the process or processes by which peoples of diverse racial origins and different cultural heritages, occupying a common territory, achieve a cultural solidarity sufficient at least to sustain a national existence.” More recently, Richard Alba defined assimilation as “long-term processes that have whittled away at the social foundations of ethnic distinctions.” But assimilation is more complex than that because it is a process of numerous dimensions. Not all immigrants and ethnic groups assimilate in exactly the same way or at the same speed. In Assimilation in American Life (1964), Milton Gordon suggested that there is a typology, or hierarchy, of assimilation, thus capturing some of the key steps that immigrants and ethnic groups go through as their assimilation--their cultural solidarity with native-born Americans, in Park’s words--becomes more complete. First, and perhaps foremost, natives and immigrants must accord each other legitimacy. That is, each group must believe the other has a legitimate right to be in the United States and that its members are entitled to pursue, by all legal means, their livelihood and happiness as they see fit. Second, immigrants must have competence to function effectively in American workplaces and in all the normal American social settings. Immigrants are expected to seize economic opportunities and to participate, at some level, in the social life of American society, and natives must not get in their way. Third, immigrants must be encouraged to exercise civic responsibility, minimally by being law-abiding members of American society, respectful of their fellow citizens, and optimally as active participants in the political process. Fourth, and most essential, immigrants must identify themselves as Americans, placing that identification ahead of any associated with their birthplace or ethnic homeland, and their willingness to do so must be reciprocated by the warm embrace of native Americans.

The speed and thoroughness with which individual immigrants conform to these criteria vary, but each dimension is critical and interdependent with the others. The absence of legitimacy breeds ethnic conflict between natives and immigrants and among members of different ethnic groups. The absence of competence keeps immigrants from being economically and socially integrated into the larger society and breeds alienation among the immigrants and resentment of their dependence among natives. The absence of civic responsibility keeps immigrants from being involved in many crucial decisions that affect their lives and further contributes to their alienation. Having immigrants identify as Americans is, of course, the whole point of assimilation, but such identification depends heavily on the fulfillment of the other three criteria.

Having immigrants identify as Americans is, of course, the whole point of assimilation.

CHAPTER 2 chapter 2

Who decided to immigrate? When did you and/or your family immigrate?

Did you feel satisfied with your life in Korea? Did you expect better quality of life when you decided to immigrate?


No 22%


you and/or your spouse 56%
How old are you?

your parents 38% older generation 6% 1960 1990


No 20%

When you retire, do you want to go back to Korea? Why did you immigrate? How often do you have homesick? No 39%

20s 10% 30s 13%




50s 33%

60s 3%

financial reason 19%

invitation from family 29%

children’s education 23%

Etc(study, marriage) 29%

never 19%

once a while

often 19%

always 10%

of Korean immigrants have a religion.

Who attend services (church, temple, etc)?

Do you make friends from temple or church?

90% 25%
of Korean immigrants spend more than 6hours in a week for their religion.

International 7%

No 13% Do you keep in touch with friends in Korea?


American 3%

여보 오랜만 세요 여보 우리 이야 그동 세요 야 안 딸 뒷바라 은 올해 대 잘 지냈 겠어 지하느라고 학들어갔어 넌 등 연락이 잘 지내고 골이 휘 있 한국오 없어 왜이 냐? 통 렇 면연 락해라 게

Where were your children born? Do/Did you send them to Korean school after regular school? Korea 38% Yes 50%


Do you have close friends in the States who you know from Korea?

The U.S.

가나다 라마바 아

No 50%

Who do you want them to date and/or marry? Anyone they like to date Korean persons preferred for dates Anyone they like to marry Korean persons preferred for marriage


No 20%

Do you want them to know Korean culture?

Do you have close friends who don’t speak Korean?

Yes 44%


No 33%

No 4%

little bit 11%

pretty much

a lot 36%



Were you in trouble with figuring out your identity in your adolescene? Korean-Americans who understand and/or speak Korean Korean-Americans who speak Korean with their parents Korean-Americans who speak Korean with their siblings
? ?

Did you like having Korean appearance?

Who do you think you are? How do you like people to recognize you? Korean American








of Korean Americans feel more comfortable with English.

지금 보실 영상은 정신과 전문의의 조언에 따라 진행된 무한도전멤버 들의 관찰카메라입니다. 카메라가 없는 자연스러운 상황에서 보이는 버릇이나 언행을 정신과 전문의가 면밀히 관찰 후 이들의 성격 스타일






of Korean Americans think they should know Korean language. Do you watch Korean dramas, series?

Have you been to Korea? Are you willing to do long-term stay in Korea?




It all began on New Year’s day in my thirty-second year of being single. Once again, I found myself on my own. and going to my mother’s annual turkey curry

Yes 55%
No 45%

of Korean Americans say they want their children to know Korean culture and language.


Who mostly are your close friends? Do you have close Korean friends from Korea?

No 23%





Who would you like to date and/or marry?

Anyone you like to date Korean persons preferred for dates Anyone you like to marry Korean persons preferred for marriage


Americans 13.6%

Do you feel cultural differences from them?

Do your parents influence you on choosing who you date and/or marry?

Who do your parents prefer for you to date and/or marry?


Korean Americans















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