Accommodation Essay

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Accommodation was one of the four features of Robert Park and Ernest Burgess’s model of social interaction. Though the concept illustrated racial and ethnic social changes taking place in the USA and the rest of the world during the last half of the nineteenth century and the first two or three decades of the twentieth, and for this reason lacks a certain relevance today, there are still aspects of the term, as defined by Park and Burgess, which might provide insights into specific patterns of racial and ethnic interaction and aid in our understanding of the dynamics of social change. Utilizing Simmel’s model of dominance and its pivotal role in super-ordinate and subordinate relations, Park and Burgess describe accommodation as a procedure which limits conflicts and cements relations, in that groups and individuals recognize dominant individuals and groups as well as their positions within these super- and subordinate relations. On the surface, and in theory, this logic appears to be one of ”live and let live,” and appears to be grounded in an idea similar to that of social and cultural pluralism. However, the reality is quite different. However, whether referring to majority and minority populations, in population percentages, or populations differing in ethnicity, religion, or culture, accommodation refers to those arrangements, implied or explicit, which regulate the types of exchanges and relations between groups. These arrangements, spoken or unspoken, written or unwritten, determine which rights, privileges, and obligations shall accrue to some groups and be denied to others. Indeed, the history of multicultural and multiethnic nations has been a history of ”forced” accommodation, and the USA, Canada, and the nations of Latin America have all forced major segments of their societies to accommodate to majority, sometimes minority, values and standards. Hence, in the USA the accommodation was linguistic, religious, and cultural; in Canada, linguistic and cultural, and in

Latin America, indigenous populations were largely oppressed and suppressed by Europeans and mixed populations which largely excluded indigenous populations from the body politic. In the USA, Canada, and throughout Latin America accommodation meant giving in to the dominant groups by following the procedures and guidelines constructed by them.

Bibliography:

  • Dennis, R. M. (ed.) (2008) Biculturalism, Self-Identity and Societal Transformation. Emerald Publishing, Bingley.

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