Sociology ETDs


Jo Ann Major

Publication Date



Although the history and settlement of European immigrants in the United States has been well documented and commented upon, there is a paucity of data on the absorption of Latin populations to American life and little systematic investigation of the immigration-assimilation process in general. The influx of Cuban refugees into the United States since Castro’s revolution provides an opportunity to study the adaptation of Latin American immigrants to American society. This study investigates differences in degree of assimilation to American society among thirty-one Cuban refugee students at the University of New Mexico and the University of Albuquerque, who left Cuba when they were eighteen years old or younger, and who for the most part were separated from their families by this experience. Utilizing theoretical models formulated by S.N. Eisenstadt and Milton Gordon, the research focuses on three stages of immigration: preimmigration, or the conditions of life in the homeland; the migratory process; and the postmigration stage referring to conditions in the new society. The investigation attempts to isolation factors operative in each stage that consequently affect the cultural structural, and identificational, assimilation of the immigrants. These dimensions of assimilation refer to the adoption of new cultural patterns, entrance into the societal network of the host country, and the development of a national identity with the new society. Information pertaining to each immigration stage was gathered from a structured questionnaires administered to all thirty-one students. Follow-up interviews were conducted with selected students to clarify preliminary findings and to identify intervening variables not previously considered. The findings suggest that although cultural assimilation is affected by the extent of difficult demands made upon the immigrant in the postmigration stage it is more influenced by conditions in the preimmigration stage, that is, by “push” and “pull” factors as well as by weak structural attachments in the old society. Structural assimilation is evidently more closely associated with conditions operative in the absorbing society in the third stage of immigration, namely the reception of the immigrant and the extent of difficult demands made upon him. “Pull” factors and the orientation of family and friends toward the new society also appear somewhat related to structural assimilation. Identificational assimilation seems to be influenced less by factors in the new society itself than by preimmigration and actual migratory conditions. Thus “push” factors and structural rootedness in the homeland as well as orientation of family and friends toward the new society affect the extent of identificational assimilation on the part of the immigrant. Results of the follow-up interviews suggest a dichotomous pattern of background factors operative in differentiating high and low assimilated students. It appears that the highly assimilated students are of cosmopolitan background with more liberal views toward American culture and come from upper status families in which independence and self-reliance are valued. The low assimilated students apparently are of a more parochial, middle status background and hold traditional values. Their parents seem to expect dependence and subjection to the family.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Charles Emmert Woodhouse

Second Committee Member

Harold Charles Meier

Third Committee Member

Richard Finn Tomasson



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