Thomas Riggs

Humanities

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America

Gale, Third Edition, 2013

Extract

Historically one important variable is the determination of immigrants themselves whether or not to shed important aspects of their cultures. Through chain migrations, relatives and friends have often regrouped in cities, towns, and the countryside for mutual assistance and to maintain their customary ways in a sometimes hostile and difficult U.S. society. Establishing churches, newspapers, and other institutions, they have built communities and have developed an enlarged sense of peoplehood. Thus, national origin and home cultures have been important in many immigrants' attempts to cope with life in the United States. Theirs is often a selective adaptation, in which they have taken from the dominant U.S. culture what they needed and have kept significant aspects of their home culture that they value. The children and grandchildren of immigrants usually retain less of their ancestral cultures (languages are first to go) and have assumed more attributes of the dominant culture. Still, many have retained, to a greater or lesser degree, a sense of identity with a particular nationality or racial group. These patterns of societal adaptation vary greatly for different groups, historically and in the present.

Joe Feagin from the Introduction

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