A Critical Literary Review of the Melting Pot and Salad Bowl Assimilation and Integration Theories

Abstract views: 4731 / PDF downloads: 2086





Integration, Ethnicity, Identity, Melting Pot, Salad Bowl, Assimilation


Immigrant communities have varying degrees of acculturation based on their predispositions for specific cultural norms, and their propensity to exhibit similarities in principles, values, and a common lifestyle with dominant racial and ethnic groups. Food metaphors like the Melting Pot and the Salad Bowl theories have illustrated different approaches to integration by explaining the political and power dynamics between dominant and minority groups. Yet, little consideration is given in either theory to existing local contexts that influence the actions of these groups. By combining ethnic identities into homogenous outcomes, food metaphors empower dominant ethnic groups and sets the tone for discriminatory legislative policies that eliminate programs aimed at helping minorities. For refugees, this obscures their actual socio-political circumstances and erases their historical experiences. This paper aims to review and critique existing literature about metaphorical homogenous assimilation and integration theories, especially with regards to their application in the United States. This paper postulates that using a homogenous common good as the baseline metaphor of assimilation disregards the individual accommodations that need to be made for both dominant and minority communities. These accommodations, although sometimes separate from the collective good, have a significant role in creating conducive environments for diversity and inclusion.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Mohamed Berray, Florida State University

Mohamed Berray | Social Sciences Librarian for Political Sciences, Public Policy, International Affairs | Coordinator for Government Information. Florida State University Libraries


Advani, A., & Reich, B. (2015). Melting pot or salad bowl: The formation of heterogeneous communities. IFS Working Paper W15/30, Institute for Fiscal Studies. doi:10.1920/wp.ifs.2015.1530 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1920/wp.ifs.2015.1530

Ahmed, M. (2016). Ethnicity, identity and group vitality: A study of Burushos of Srinagar. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 3(1), 1-10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/51

Alba, R., & Foner, N. (2014). Comparing immigrant integration in North America and Western Europe: How much do the grand narratives tell us? International Migration Review, 48(1). doi:10.1111/imre.12134 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12134

Alkhazraji, K. M., Gardner, W. L, Martin, J. S., & Paolillo, J. G. P. (1997). The acculturation of immigrants to U.S. organizations: The case of Muslim employees. Management Communication Quarterly, 11(2), 215-265. doi:10.1177/0893318997112003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318997112003

Bakker, W., van der Zee, K., & van Oudenhoven, J. P. (2006). Personality and Dutch emigrants’ reactions to acculturation strategies. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36(12), 2864-2891. doi:10.1111/j.0021-9029.2006.00132.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0021-9029.2006.00132.x

Berry, J. W. (2001). A psychology of immigration. Journal of Social Issues, 57(3), 615-631. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00231 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00231

Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology, 46(1), 5–68. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.1997.tb01087.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.1997.tb01087.x

Bertsch, A. (2013). The melting pot vs. the salad bowl: A call to explore regional cross-cultural differences and similarities within the U.S.A. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, 17(1), 131-148.

Borjas, G. J. (1994). The economics of immigration. Journal of Economic Literature, 32(4), 1667-1717. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2728791

Brown, S. K., & Bean, F. D. (2006). Assimilation models, old and new: Explaining a long-term process. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/assimilation-models-old-and-new-explaining-long-term-process (accessed August 13, 2018).

Brubaker, R. (2001). The return of assimilation? Changing perspectives on immigration and its sequels in France, Germany, and the United States. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24(4), 531-548. doi:10.1080/01419870120049770 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870120049770

Calderon Berumen, F. (2019). Resisting Assimilation to the Melting Pot:. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 2(1), 81-95. Retrieved from http://cultureandvalues.org/index.php/JCV/article/view/25 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.02.01.7

Chiswick, C. U. (2009). The economic determinants of ethnic assimilation. Journal of Population Economics, 22(4), 859-880. doi:10.1007/s00148-008-0190-y DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-008-0190-y

Coan, T. M. (1875). A new country. In The galaxy: A magazine of entertaining reading, 19(4) (January 1875 to June 1875), 462-472. New York: Sheldon & Company. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=C0OgAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PA472&dq=Titus%20Munson%20Coan%2C%20%22A%20New%20Country%22%2C%20The%20Galaxy&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false

“Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.” Title 36 United States Code, Sec. 106. Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCODE-2017-title36/pdf/USCODE-2017-title36-subtitleI-partA-chap1-sec106.pdf

Cornell, S., & Hartmann, D. (2007). Ethnicity and race: Making identities in a changing world (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

Emerson, R. W. et. al. (1971). Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson with Annotations, 1845-1848 (vol. 7). E.W. Emerson, & W. E. Forbes (Eds.). Cambridge: The Riverside Press. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015003348037

Ferguson, J. S. (1953). Agrarianism in Mississippi, 1871–1900: A study in nonconformity (Doctoral dissertation). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (302050523).

Foner, N. (2000). Beyond the melting pot three decades later: Recent immigrants and New York’s new ethnic mixture. International Migration Review, 34(1), 255-262. doi:10.2307/2676022 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/019791830003400113

Glazer, N. (2000). Disaggregating Culture. In L. E. Harrison & S. P. Huntington (Eds.), Culture matters: How values shape human progress. New York: Random Books.

Gloor, L. B. (2006). From the melting pot to the tossed salad metaphor: Why coercive assimilation lacks the flavors Americans crave. Hohonu: A Journal of Academic Writing, 4(2006), 29-32. University of Hawaii, Hilo. Retrieved from https://hilo.hawaii.edu/campuscenter/hohonu/volumes/documents/ Vol04x06FromtheMeltingPot.pdf

Huber, P. (1995). A short history of redneck: The fashioning of a southern white masculine identity. Southern Cultures, 1(2), 145-166. doi:10.1353/scu.1995.0074 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/scu.1995.0074

Hui, B. P. H., Chen, S. X., Leung, C. M., & Berry, J. W. (2015). Facilitating Adaptation and Intercultural Contact: The role of Integration and Multicultural Ideology in Dominant and Non-dominant Groups. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 45(2015), 70-84. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.01.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.01.002

“Joint Resolution Authorizing the President of the United States of America to Proclaim I Am An American Day, for the Recognition, Observance, and Commemoration of American citizenship” (Pub. Res., No. 67, May 3, 1940) 54 United States Statutes at Large, p. 178.

“Joint Resolution designating September 17 of each year as ‘Citizenship Day’” (PL 82-261; H.J. Res. 314, February 29, 1952), 66 United States Statutes at Large, p. 9.

Jones, S. (1997). The archaeology of ethnicity: Constructing identities in the past and present. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kivisto, P. (2004). What is the canonical theory of assimilation? Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 40(2), 149-163. doi:10.1002/jhbs.20013 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jhbs.20013

Korac, M. (2004). Living ethnicity in exile: Identity processes in refugees from former Yugoslavia’. In R. Saifert (Ed.), Gender, Identitaet und kriegerischer Konflikt. Das Beispiel des ehemaligen Jugoslawien; Muenster: Lit Verlag (pp.131- 151). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10552/672

Krishnan, A., & Berry, J. W. (1992). Acculturative stress and acculturation attitudes among Indian immigrants to the United States, Psychology and Developing Societies, 4(2), 187-212. doi:10.1177/097133369200400206 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/097133369200400206

Kymlicka, W. (1995). Multicultural citizenship: A liberal theory of minority rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/0198290918.001.0001

Lafer, S., & Tarman, B. (2019). Editorial 2019: (2)1, Special Issue. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 2(1), i-v. Retrieved from http://cultureandvalues.org/index.php/JCV/article/view/34 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.02.01.ed

Laubeova, L. (2005). Melting pot vs. ethnic stew. In C. Skutsch & J. M. Ryle (Eds.), Encyclopedia of the world’s minorities, (Vol. 2, pp. 808-809). Routledge: New York.

Lichter, D. T. (2013). Integration or fragmentation? Racial diversity and the American future. Demography, 50(2), 359–391. doi:10.1007/s13524-013-0197-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-013-0197-1

López-Rodríguez, I. (2014). Are we what we eat? Food metaphors in the conceptualization of ethnic groups. Linguistik Online, 69(7), 3-36. doi:10.13092/lo.69.1655 DOI: https://doi.org/10.13092/lo.69.1655

Maher, J. (2005). Metroethnicity, language, and the principle of cool. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2005(175-176), 83–102. doi:10.1515/ijsl.2005.2005.175-176.83 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2005.2005.175-176.83

Malkki, L. H. (1995). Purity and exile: Violence. memory, and national cosmology among Hutu refugees in Tanzania. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226190969.001.0001

Meier, L. (2019). Questioning the Problematic Nature of School Culture in Elementary Teacher Education. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 2(1), 34-44. Retrieved from http://cultureandvalues.org/index.php/JCV/article/view/30 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.02.01.3

Miller, D. (2005). Citizenship and national identity. Maldon, MA: Polity Press.

Moro, L. N. (2004). Interethnic relations in exile: The politics of ethnicity among Sudanese refugees in Uganda and Egypt. Journal of Refugee Studies, 17(4), 420-436. doi:10.1093/jrs/17.4.420 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/17.4.420

Nguyen, A-M. D., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2013). Biculturalism and adjustment: A meta-analysis. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(1), 122–159. doi:10.1177/0022022111435097 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022111435097

“Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance,” Title 8 United States Code. Sec. 1448. Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCODE-2017-title8/pdf/USCODE-2017-title8-chap12-subchapIII-partII-sec1448.pdf

Park, R. E. & Burgess, E. W. (1924). Introduction to the science of sociology. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Pasetti, F. (2019). Configurations of immigrant integration policies in Europe: An exploratory appraisal. World Affairs, 182(1), 35-60. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0043820019825935

Phinney, J. S., Horenezyk, G., Liebkind, K., & Vedder, P. (2001). Ethnic identity, immigration, and wellbeing: An interactional perspective. Journal of Social Issues, 57(3), 493-510. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00225 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00225

Pionkowski, U., Rohmann, A., & Florack, A. (2002). Concordance of acculturation attitudes and perceived threat. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 5(3), 221-232. doi:10.1177/1368430202005003003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430202005003003

Shelby, A. (1999). The ‘R’ word: What’s so funny (and not so funny) about redneck jokes. In D. B. Billings, G. Norman, & K. Ledford (Eds.), Back talk from Appalachia: Confronting stereotypes. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky.

St. John de Crevecoeur, H. (1782). What is an American. Letters from an American farmer: Letter III. Retrieved from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/letter_03.asp

Swaidan, Z. (2018). Acculturation strategies of Asian-Americans. Competition Forum, 16(2), 39–45.

Tarman, B. & Gürel, D. (2017). Awareness of Social Studies Teacher Candidates on Refugees in Turkey, Journal of Social Studies Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.jssr.2016.11.001 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssr.2016.11.001

Tartakovsky, E. (2002). Acculturation attitudes of potential emigrants: Jewish youths in Russia. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32(9), 1845-1862. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb00262.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb00262.x

Thornton, B. (2012). Melting pots and salad bowls. Hoover Digest, 2012(4). Retrieved from https://www.hoover.org/research/melting-pots-and-salad-bowls

Wagener, A. (2009). In the melting pot: Integration, assimilation, and uniform societies. Institute of Social Policy Working Paper, University of Hannover, Germany. Retrieved from https://www.wipol.uni-hannover.de/fileadmin/wipol/publications/Wagener_In_the_Melting_Pot.pdf (accessed August 20, 2018).

Woofter, S. (2019). Book Review: Building Equity: Policies and Practices to Empower All Learners. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 3(1), 136-139. https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/5815 DOI: https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/5815

Zangwill, I. (1921). The Melting Pot. New York: American Jewish Book Company. Retrieved from: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23893




How to Cite

Berray, M. (2019). A Critical Literary Review of the Melting Pot and Salad Bowl Assimilation and Integration Theories. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 6(1), 142–151. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/217