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Assimilation and Acculturation

During much of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the term assimilation was used to describe the process by which immigrants inevitably gave up their culture of origin for the sake of adopting the mainstream language and culture of their adopted country. However, by the late 20th century, the term acculturation was adopted by scholars to describe the more fundamental process of bidirectional change that occurs when two ethnocultural groups come into sustained contact with each other. From this latter perspective, assimilation is only one of the many acculturation strategies that immigrant and national minorities may adopt as they strive to adapt to mainstream society.

Such strategies have become more and more necessary as immigration, legal or illegal, has become increasingly common across the globe. Through ...

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