Integration vs Assimilation
There are countries with a single culture with a monolithic population. However, in this age of increased cooperation and communication, countries having mixed population with multiple cultures are seen commonly. These countries reflect multiculturalism with a majority culture that is the culture of the majority population whereas immigrants coming over to the country represent minority cultures. There are two distinct ways in which minorities try to look and feel like the majority. These processes are called assimilation and integration. There are many who treat these processes as being similar or even interchangeable. However, there are subtle differences between assimilation and integration that will be highlighted in this article.
Integration is a two way process where there are cross influences from both the cultures and both change a small bit to accept the minority culture into the majority culture. This is a process that requires acceptance of the laws and ways of the host country by the people of the minority culture without giving up on their own laws and ways. This happens with modification in both the cultures. However, this is possible in a situation where there are no antagonistic feelings between the two cultures and both accommodate the viewpoints of each other in a bid to live harmoniously together. Integration is a process where the minority cultures take something in from the majority culture to become a part of the majority culture retaining their identity.
Assimilation is a process of absorbing minority communities into the ways and views of the majority community in a multicultural society. This is absorption that takes place in a one way direction as the minority communities are required to learn the customs and traditions of the majority community giving up their own or modifying them to become acceptable to the majority community. Assimilation has become a dirty word in some ways as it asks people belonging to a minority culture to give up on some aspects of their culture to adopt the ways of the majority culture to be accepted by the majority community. Thus, assimilation happens to be a process where the ethnic minority loses some of its features and adopts some of the features of the majority to appear like the majority community.
What is the difference between Integration and Assimilation?
• Assimilation is an attempt made by ethnic minorities, to adopt the customs and traditions of the majority community so that they become similar to the majority culture.
• Integration is the process whereby ethnic minorities are absorbed into a majority culture.
• Integration is taking the minorities into the mainstream so that they get access to the same opportunities that are available to the majority community.
• Assimilation is a give and take process as both the majority community, as well as minority communities get affected in the process and both become a part of the larger culture.
• In integration, it is the minority community that tries to look like the majority community by giving up on some aspects of its culture.