Accommodation vs. Assimilation

What's the Difference?

Accommodation and assimilation are two contrasting approaches to dealing with cultural differences and diversity. Accommodation refers to the process of adapting or adjusting one's own beliefs, values, and behaviors to accommodate and respect the differences of others. It emphasizes the importance of tolerance, acceptance, and coexistence. On the other hand, assimilation involves the integration of individuals or groups into a dominant culture, often resulting in the adoption of the dominant culture's norms, values, and practices. It focuses on the idea of merging or blending different cultures into one. While accommodation promotes diversity and multiculturalism, assimilation tends to prioritize homogeneity and conformity. Both approaches have their merits and drawbacks, and the choice between them depends on the specific context and goals of a society or community.


DefinitionAdjusting or adapting one's existing beliefs or behaviors to fit new information or circumstances.Process of fully adopting the cultural norms, values, and behaviors of a dominant group, often resulting in the loss of one's original cultural identity.
GoalMaintain one's original cultural identity while coexisting with others.Complete integration into the dominant culture, often at the expense of one's original cultural identity.
ApproachRespecting and valuing diversity, promoting inclusivity, and accommodating differences.Encouraging individuals to conform to the dominant culture's norms, values, and behaviors.
OutcomeMulticultural society where various cultures coexist and interact.Homogeneous society where individuals assimilate into a single dominant culture.
IdentityPreserving one's original cultural identity while adapting to new circumstances.Adopting the identity of the dominant culture and potentially losing aspects of one's original cultural identity.
RespectRespects and values cultural differences and diversity.May disregard or devalue cultural differences in favor of assimilation.

Further Detail


When it comes to the integration of individuals or groups into a new culture or society, two prominent approaches are often discussed: accommodation and assimilation. Both these concepts represent different strategies for managing diversity and fostering social cohesion. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of accommodation and assimilation, exploring their key characteristics, benefits, and potential drawbacks.


Accommodation refers to the process of adapting or adjusting to the needs and preferences of individuals or groups from different cultural backgrounds. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing and respecting diversity, allowing individuals to maintain their unique cultural identities while coexisting within a larger society. Accommodation promotes inclusivity, equality, and the celebration of differences.

One of the key attributes of accommodation is the provision of cultural and linguistic resources to support individuals in their integration journey. This can include language classes, cultural awareness programs, and community centers that serve as safe spaces for diverse communities. By offering these resources, accommodation fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment among individuals, enabling them to actively participate in society.

Furthermore, accommodation encourages the creation of policies and practices that address the specific needs of different cultural groups. This can involve implementing inclusive hiring practices, providing religious accommodations, and promoting diverse representation in decision-making processes. By recognizing and valuing the contributions of all individuals, accommodation helps to build a more equitable and harmonious society.

Another important aspect of accommodation is the promotion of intercultural dialogue and understanding. By encouraging open conversations and interactions between individuals from different backgrounds, accommodation facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and experiences. This not only enriches the cultural fabric of a society but also helps to dispel stereotypes and prejudices, fostering a more inclusive and tolerant environment.

Lastly, accommodation recognizes that cultural diversity can be a source of strength and innovation. By embracing different perspectives and approaches, accommodation allows for the development of creative solutions to societal challenges. It encourages the integration of diverse knowledge systems, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of complex issues and the potential for groundbreaking advancements.


Assimilation, on the other hand, refers to the process of individuals or groups adopting the cultural norms, values, and practices of the dominant society. It emphasizes the idea of a melting pot, where individuals are expected to conform to the majority culture and leave behind their own cultural identities. Assimilation aims to create a homogeneous society by minimizing cultural differences.

One of the key attributes of assimilation is the expectation of language acquisition. In an assimilationist approach, individuals are often encouraged or even required to learn and use the dominant language of the society. This linguistic assimilation is seen as a means to facilitate communication, social integration, and economic opportunities. However, it can also pose challenges for individuals who may face barriers in accessing language education or preserving their native languages.

Furthermore, assimilation promotes the adoption of cultural practices and customs of the dominant society. This can involve changes in clothing, food preferences, religious practices, and social behaviors. The pressure to conform to the majority culture can lead to the erosion of cultural diversity and the loss of unique traditions and heritage.

Another aspect of assimilation is the expectation of cultural assimilation, where individuals are encouraged to adopt the values and beliefs of the dominant society. This can involve conforming to societal norms, political ideologies, and social expectations. While assimilation aims to create social cohesion, it can also lead to the suppression of individual identities and the marginalization of cultural minorities.

Lastly, assimilation often places a strong emphasis on homogeneity and the erasure of cultural differences. This can result in the exclusion or marginalization of individuals who do not fit the mold of the dominant culture. It can perpetuate inequalities and hinder the recognition and appreciation of diverse perspectives and contributions.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Both accommodation and assimilation have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, which should be carefully considered when formulating policies and approaches to managing diversity.

Benefits of Accommodation

  • Promotes inclusivity and equality
  • Preserves cultural diversity and heritage
  • Fosters intercultural understanding and dialogue
  • Encourages innovation and creativity
  • Builds a more harmonious and tolerant society

Drawbacks of Accommodation

  • May lead to the formation of isolated cultural enclaves
  • Can be perceived as prioritizing individualism over societal cohesion
  • May require significant resources and infrastructure
  • Can face resistance from individuals or groups resistant to change
  • May perpetuate stereotypes and reinforce cultural divisions

Benefits of Assimilation

  • Promotes social cohesion and unity
  • Facilitates communication and integration
  • Reduces cultural barriers and misunderstandings
  • Enhances economic opportunities for individuals
  • Creates a sense of shared identity and belonging

Drawbacks of Assimilation

  • Can lead to the loss of cultural diversity and heritage
  • May suppress individual identities and marginalize minorities
  • Can perpetuate inequalities and exclusion
  • May result in the erasure of unique perspectives and contributions
  • Can create pressure and stress for individuals to conform


In conclusion, accommodation and assimilation represent two distinct approaches to managing diversity and fostering social cohesion. While accommodation emphasizes the recognition and celebration of cultural differences, assimilation promotes the adoption of the dominant culture. Both approaches have their own benefits and drawbacks, and the choice between them should be based on the specific context and goals of a society. Striking a balance between accommodation and assimilation can lead to a more inclusive, equitable, and harmonious society, where diversity is valued and individuals can thrive while maintaining their unique cultural identities.

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