Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 445-445

Cultural Assimilation Model

  • Silvia L. MazzulaAffiliated withJohn Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York


Cultural adaptation; Second-culture acquisition


Cultural assimilation models describe changes that occur for immigrants as they encounter and interact with a host culture [1]. In the 1920s, sociologist Robert Park was the first to describe cultural assimilation as a unidirectional process of adaptation whereby immigrants endorsed the values, behaviors, and ideals of the host culture, and simultaneously lost the values, behaviors and ideals characterized by the immigrant’s culture of origin. At that time, cultural assimilation and notions of “one people, one culture…one nation” were the prevailing view in American society, mostly comprised of White ethnic immigrants. Immigrants were expected to adapt, assimilate and eventually resemble members of the host culture: those that retained any characteristic of the culture of origin were considered un-American [1, 2]. At that time, most immigrants in the USA were considered White ethnics and assimilation was ...

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