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In the sociology, assimilation is the process of integration whereby immigrants, or other minority groups, are "absorbed" into a generally larger community. This presumes a loss of all characteristics which make the newcomers different. A region where assimilation is occurring is sometimes referred to as a "melting pot".
Assimilation can be voluntary, which is usually the case with immigrants, or forced upon a group, as is usually the case with the receiving "host" group. Immigration, as held by some, is generally thought to be in the interest of the politically and economically powerful elites and not in the interest of the weak. This integration, or "making many into one", is one of the goals of affirmative action. Where national groups are strongly urged to assimilate, there is often much resistance in spite of the use of governmental force.
Socially pressured to adapt, the immigrant is generally the one who takes the steps to integrate the new environment he is in. Learning the language of the country or region, making new friends, new contacts, finding a job or going to school is all that is needed. The adaptation is made more difficult when the immigrant does not speak the language of his or her new home. Host, or "majority", cultures adapt by accepting newcomers as their own, and often giving them preferential treatment over themselves. Many times large scale immigration causes political unrest in societies which permit meaningful elections.
Assimilation can have negative implications for national minorities or aboriginal cultures, in that after assimilation the distinctive features of the original culture will be minimized and may disappear altogether. This is especially true in situations where the institutions of the dominant culture initiate programs to assimilate or integrate minority cultures. The assumption of integration, the making into one society, lies behind efforts for affirmative action.
Assimilation is or has been the official language policy of many countries around the world, for better or for worse.
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