What is the definition of cultural integration?


Cultural integration is a form of cultural exchange in which one group assumes the beliefs, practices and rituals of another group without sacrificing the characteristics of its own culture. While cultural syncretism carries a negative connotation, cultural integration is generally looked upon as positive because nothing is lost. Seen from this light, cultural integration is a healthy intermingling of the beliefs and rituals of two unique cultures.

In situations in which individuals voluntarily relocate to a society that is not their own, cultural integration is a necessary component for survival. Individuals who integrate are welcomed as they are by their new community while still embracing characteristics of the new culture in which they find themselves. Without it, individuals are unlikely to develop healthy relationships and become functioning members of their new communities.

Skeptics argue that this cultural integration is just another example of a dominant culture forcing a weaker culture to acclimate to its own norms. They point to examples of forced cultural integration, such as the Jim Crow era in the American South, as obvious examples of the negative impact of cultural integration. According to holders of the "Melting Pot" theory, the concept of a positive view of cultural integration is essential to the character of the United States.

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