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The model minority stereotype and the national identity question: the challenges facing Asian immigrants and their children*


A central issue in contemporary debates over immigration concerns how immigrants from diverse origins become integrated into their host nation. The children of Asian immigrants in the United States often give the impression of fitting neatly into American society and therefore into the American nation as a model minority. We argue, however, that such perception is a misleading overgeneralization and can bring about simplistic interpretations. The apparently successful integration of Asian Americans is not due to intrinsic cultural characteristics, but to the positive modes of incorporation juxtaposing unique patterns of selective acculturation. Moreover, the model minority image renders the continued distinctiveness and diversity of the Asian American population invisible and often has unanticipated consequences for individual group members. The seemingly positive outcomes result in new stereotypes, which serve as mechanisms of social exclusion for even the highly integrated immigrant groups and create new complications for understanding the national identity question.

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