The American melting pot: A national myth in public and popular discourse

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Abstract:

This article traces the development of the “melting pot” narrative in the United States. Despite being the subject of significant scholarly critique, this narrative continues to be a central myth and symbol of American national identity. Congressional debates show that it has been useful for legitimating immigration policy, while popular discourse frequently references melting pot symbolism. The melting pot narrative resonates with the public because it simultaneously embraces the American immigration experience and national unity. The article also highlights how this myth is constructed almost entirely around culture, overlooking larger structural disparities that exist between racial groups.

Keywords: immigration policy; national identity; national myth; policy legitimation; public discourse

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14608944.2012.732054

Affiliations: Political Science,Northeastern University, Boston, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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