Parillo’s (2014) book

High School ・Sociology ・APA

Chapter 1 of Parillo's (2014) book notes that a minority group is related to people of various social classes, groups of people, and ethnicities that are less dominant than large groups. This description stresses that stratification and population size are concerned. This description of the minority community therefore drew us to Chapter 5, according to which the Irish people we dominated by the British and the Americans. In Chapter 5 of the Book of Parilllo (2014) the paper addresses sociological topics covered by a minority group. The second part entails an analytical commentary of a controversial issue explained in Chapter 15 of the book: Segmented assimilation. Part I Minority Group: Irish Americans Ethnocentrism - Religion and national origin are viewed dual attributes of ethnic group composition. Due to ethnocentrism, individuals view their cultural values as somehow real as other groups. One factor discussed in chapter 1 is religious ethnocentrism. Irish Americans were Presbyterian descendants and Catholics originating from Northern Ireland. Arriving in New England, they were regarded as newcomers which saw them being labeled as ill-tempered ruffians who drank too much (Parillo, 2014). In the 1830s, mobs burnt Irish homes, assaulted nuns, killed and burnt churches associated with Irish Americans. Among other religious issues includes anti-Catholicism, destitution and other similar tribulations. British Americans disliked Catholicism due to its hierarchy and the idea of submitting to foreign powers. Also, the friction between them and the English soon escalated leading to the burning of the Presbyterian meetinghouse.

The Irish Catholics settled in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Their minority nature was further emphasized by the deplorable conditions and overcrowded Dublin districts that they were living in. Another sociological factor discussed in the book is the issue of perception and cultural differentiation. The author writes that people perceives strangers on the basis of limited information obtained visually or focusing on group-member characteristics. The concept of ethnocentrism is further elaborated by the fact the English viewed them as strangers to the existing dominant culture. In fact they abused their culture leading to rebellion and hostility between the groups. The Irish faced racial stereotypes and discrimination (Parillo, 2014). British and Native Americans viewed the Irish as a dingy community competing for the same resources.

Cultural Differentiation - Cultural differentiation was associated with their Catholicism and strong anti-British resistance. They were poverty stricken and the lived in slum areas in the East Coast. Cultural differentiation was also illustrated by the fact they were seen as low class and bearing the stigma at the time, they were discriminated against because of the low class situation that they were in (Parillo, 2014). This fact was also intensified by the fact that they only worked as unskilled laborers while the rest of the population was becoming increasingly class conscious.

Their tradition was a peasant culture as compared to other 19th century immigrants such as Dutch, Germans, English, Scots and Scandinavians. Discrimination was further elaborated by the fact that English landholding systems exploited them by employing them as craftsmen and farming laborers (Parillo, 2014). Ethnocentric attitude did not stop there; in Massachusetts they were viewed a lowly breed of people with an insignificant element of intellectual ability.

Part II

Controversial Issue: Segmented Assimilation

In explaining the changing face of ethnicity due to immigration, ethnic groups can explain diverse possible outcomes of adaptation by use of the concept of segmented assimilation. According to the author, the hypothesis suggests that there are a number of expected outcomes within the contemporary immigrant systems. New immigrants follow different assimilation paths after they move to the States. There are three scenarios discussed in a bid to explain segmented assimilation.

To begin with, groups with huge levels of human capital quickly move up the socioeconomic ladder and they can easily integrate to the social system. This scenario also explains that children learn the American culture and abandon the home language and country’s cultures. On the other hand, individuals with limited resources face a huge challenge integration to the American way of life. This model also occurs when children get assimilated faster than their parents. In such cases, children are faced with challenges such as inadequate education, poor living conditions and bifurcated employment cases due to lack of community support from a tender age (Parillo, 2014). Segmented assimilation can be influenced by a number of factors such as country of origin, economic disadvantage, settlement areas, education level and social class. The third scenario falls in the concept of limited assimilation whereby the immigrant’s family is able to support their children but their education is reinforced with traditional cultural values that limit their assimilation and acculturation into the U.S. social system. This stage is a combination of of upward mobility and biculturalism. The third model is characterized by preservation of authority of the parents as well fluent bilingualism imposed on the children. Selective acculturation is seen to be important for generations facing social injustice and discrimination.

Segmented assimilation can be described on a perspective of individuals of varying ethnic and racial backgrounds. This subject provides a lens for understanding the discrepancy of research and studies on educational enrollment among immigrant’s children in the U.S. Indeed, there is significant intergenerational educational attainment for a number of second generation groups who have surpassed third generation whites and African Americans. However, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans have languished behind other groups (Parillo, 2014). Principally, segmented assimilation focuses on the importance of human capital from the parents, ways of incorporation and eligibility of welfare, as well as the family structure. As illustrated, the models points out some important concepts such as varying degree of transnational connection among distinct immigrant groups. Finally, immigrants master the American culture at a faster rate but they may be affected by culture shocks, structural changes and limited opportunities for upward economic mobility. Study on Mexican youth found that those who were very successful in school were those students who were proficient in English language and traditional values of familism.

Racial assimilation is also a factor in segmented assimilation. The research by Parillo (2014) shows that Caribbean immigrants resist racial assimilation and encourage ethnic identity rather than acculturating into the American way, most especially the African American way. Therefore, the segmented-assimilation hypothesis educate us that one model does not fit for all groups (Parillo, 2014). In fact most groups differ vastly in their incorporation into the US. Stratification system.


Like all immigrants, Irish Americans came to America as strangers and they faced a number of challenges as well as a sense of enterprise of developing a new society. The threat of competition for facilities and change in social order impacted on the natives and British Americans present in the U.S. In light of these factors, the paper is subdivided into two parts. The first part explains sociological concepts faced by the Irish Americans. The second part discusses the concept of segmental assimilation


Parillo, Vincent N. (2014). Strangers to These Shores. 11th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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