PURPOSE AND OVERVIEW
Emigrating from a homeland is always challenging because of numerous problems immigrants must solve. They need to find a place to live, deal with the culture shock, and build trustful relationships with hosts. Unfortunately, the last part can be the hardest. Immigrants often struggle with hosts’ skepticism and hostility. It is a common belief that immigrants do not respect the American culture, and they diminish it by relying on their home traditions. One of the reviewed studies claims that inability to fit in a new culture is the main reason why people oppose immigration to their countries (Sniderman, Hagendoorn, and Prior 2004). Although there is literature on the psychological side of this phenomenon, not many sociologists have been studying Americans’ perception of how immigrants influence their culture. Therefore, this research will provide valuable data on this aspect of hosts-immigrants relationships. Its specific question is whether Americans agree that immigrants diminish American culture.
In general, political scientists have two opposing opinions on how immigrants may affect American national identity (Citrin, Lerman, Murakami, and Pearson 2007). Some believe that large groups of newcomers are likely to alter hosts’ values and traditions because of distinct cultural differences and low motivation to assimilate. Others remind skeptics that immigrants have been coming to America for centuries, and all of them managed to assimilate. In their study, Citrin et al. (2007) analyze sociological data on how various generations of Hispanic and other immigrants fit into American culture. Since 1980, the number of English speaking first-generation immigrants has increased. All ethnicities, except Hispanics, would support a law that makes English the official language of the U.S (Citrin et al. 2007). The other data analyzed in this study show that immigrants of all ethnicities seem to assimilate, and they claim to be patriots despite identifying as both Americans and members of their native ethnic groups. Therefore, there is no evidence that immigrants do not assimilate into American culture or diminish it in any way.
Sniderman et al. (2004) conducted a survey in the Netherlands. They aimed to determine what factor triggered Dutch’s exclusionary reactions to immigrants. The series of three experiments showed that participants were more concerned about their culture, not economic well-being. For Dutch, citizens of the country with a strong economy, it was more important if immigrants were fluent in Dutch and fit in the culture, and their ability to fit in economically did not cause much concern (Sniderman et al. 2004). As the researchers discovered, poor cultural assimilation of immigrants was more likely to urge the Dutch to call for reinforcing immigration restrictions (Sniderman et al. 2004). It is important to note that this study described the attitude of citizens of a small Western European country, and Sniderman et al. (2004) admitted that it was unknown how their findings apply elsewhere. Unfortunately, all attempts to find similar study concerning the U.S. had no result. Nevertheless, this study emphasized that the sense of culture threat is an influential factor that defines people’s attitude to immigrants, and it is worth researching.