Sample Term Paper
Ironically, one of the reasons that Americans have been able to create something like a national culture, blending together diverse populations into a rich stew, is that Americans have traditionally been fairly contentious about the issues of race and ethnicity. The history of the country is one of various nativist movements that have risen and proclaimed all who follow after should return to where they came, are not and can never be “real” Americans, do not belong here. Such claims and the counter-claims that have always followed have given people repeated chances to come to terms with what it means to be an American. If each new immigrant group had been allowed to join into the national culture more smoothly, the overall result might actually have been a society that was far more splintered than the one we have come to inhabit. Racial tensions and ethnic conflicts, when left unaddressed, tend only to increase in their potential for violence (Pearson, 1995, p. 44). And while it is certainly true that this has sometimes occurred, it is more often true in American history that each conflict has been addressed at least in part as it has arisen and Americans have continually changed their conceptions of who belongs, what it means to belong, and how social institutions must be constructed to allow for a constantly changing face of the nation (Tajfel, 1982, p. 7). This has had, overall, a beneficial effect on the American economy as different groups have brought different sets of talents, beliefs, and expectations to bear in the American marketplace.
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