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

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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.


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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


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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



Received 2019-04-03
Accepted 2019-05-23
Published 2019-06-23