What Is Segmented Assimilation?

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Segmented assimilation is a sociological model of the experience of immigrants who adopt aspects of their new culture. It posits that social and economic barriers can be so severe that they cause downward mobility among certain immigrant groups and create oppositional forms of culture.

An example of an oppositional form of culture would be minority youths joining a violent street gang because they feel there is no other opportunity for them in society. Under segmented assimilation, some immigrant groups can successfully assimilate, while others can not and retreat further from the mainstream. This theory was first developed by Alejandro Portes and Min Zhou in 1993.