Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Richard Alba & Victor Nee
Assimilation is making a comeback as a major concept in the study of immigrant groups' processes of adjustment to a receiving society. This development is most evident in the United States, but it is to some extent occurring in western Europe as well, where multiculturalism is declining sharply in favor. This comeback reverses the trend at the end of the 20th century, which saw assimilation frequently criticized as an outmoded, ethnocentric notion. Assimilation's return is associated with significant changes in the way it is conceptualized, reflecting an updating to take into account the criticisms of the recent past. Earlier versions of the concept originated with the studies of early 20th-century immigrants in American cities conducted by sociologists of the Chicago school, who saw immigrants and their children, usually called the “second generation,” changing in tandem with upward social mobility and migration away from immigrant residential enclaves into better and more ...