The melting pot is an analogy for the idealized process of immigration and colonization whereby people of different national and cultural origin purportedly “melt together” into a new, harmonious, and egalitarian community. It was particularly used in the early twentieth century to describe utopian visions of the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, foretelling the emergence of an American “new man.” The metaphor was popularized by the 1908 play The Melting Pot by Israel Zangwill, though others had used similar imagery in the nineteenth century.
The suitability of the melting pot model in present-day society is somewhat contentious. The more contemporary analogy, the salad bowl, suggests that different cultures mix, but their distinct identities remain intact. Similarly the more widely used term of multiculturalism proposes that cultural differences within society are valuable and should be preserved.
Quantifying various dimensions of social integration such as culture and...
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