Project 4: Assimilation
1. Following Gordon (see below), what is assimilation? Why is it important 1) for
the host society and 2) for the immigrant population?
2. For a case study, choose a family household that is within 2 generations of
emigrating to the U.S. (i.e., the oldest members can be born here of immigrant parents).
Ask the following questions: Where did they come from? [be as specific as possible] Why
did they leave? When did they arrive? What determined where they settled? Did they
arrive as a family or in a “chain”? What resources, or “capital(s)”, did they bring with
them that shaped the direction and pace of their assimilation?
3. Use interviews and observation to determine the extent of assimilation, paying
attention to generational differences. Assess for major types or stages of assimilation: a)
cultural (including educational), b) social (including residential), c) identificational, and d)
marital. Because assimilation is a process that entails interrelated “stages”, it is
imperative to address differences between generations.
4. Is there still meaningful ethnic persistence (i.e., partial assimilation) in regard to
culture, social relationships, and marital choice? Does this slow or even oppose
5. Is there evidence of a “new” ethnicity (e.g., Latinos, Desi, Chicano) that limits
6. How typical is this family’s experience for the ethnic group in the city or
metropolitan region? Note and explain any discrepancies.
7. With your case study in mind, is there political resistance to the group’s
assimilation? Is the group assimilating in a position of inequality and subordination?
We have been focusing on ethnicity and race but this raises the question about how groups and
individuals so defined become assimilated or incorporated into American life. Revisit the video
“Race: The Power of an Illusion/Part 3” (Kanopy) for an overview of the social, political, and
economic forces that shaped the assimilation process in the second half of the 20th century,
with significantly different outcomes for European immigrant groups and non-whites.
I screen the 2001 PBS video “My American Girls: A Dominican Story” in this class every semester
as a framework for the assimilation project. An in-depth look at the Ortiz family, who
immigrated to Sunset Park, Brooklyn from the Dominican Republic. The film tells the story of
assimilation as a generational process. It is specifically a process that differentiates and even
divides generations within the family. Even within a generation, specifically the second
generation daughters, there is variability according to individualized opportunity structures.
KEEP THIS NARRATIVE IN MIND AS YOU CHOOSE YOUR OWN CASE TO STUDY.
Accessing “My American Girls: A Dominican Story”:
After answering question 1 based on the discussion notes, choose a family household
that is within 2 generations of emigrating to the U.S. (i.e., the oldest members can be
born here of immigrant parents). Such as example provided above, the Ortiz family, you
can’t use this example though, you have to find another family that is the same. Then
you will answer the following questions (2,3,4,5,6,7) based on the family household
you choose to write about. You can use any documents/links found in the “Discussion
board notes” as a reference and if you have to, you may add 1 outside resource for the
family household you will be writing about. THE DISCUSSION BOARD NOTES BREAK
DOWN THE QUESTIONS AND HAVE INFO AND LINKS THAT CAN BE USED SO PLEASE READ
THAT THOROUGHLY. Use front 12 Times New Roman and answer each question with
clarity. There is no word limit as long as you answered each question to the full extent.