Two general class models are used most often in describing the Canadian social structure (Forgese, 1983). The first of these models is the pluralist, which holds that assimilation in the Canadian social structure has occurred in such a way that, while ethnic, racial, and economic divisions continue to exist, the dominance of a social elite has been eliminated. The second of the models is the elite, which holds both that divisions remain within the Canadian social structure, and that the Canadian social structure is hierarchical in character. This research reviews the Canadian social structure, and, through this review, assesses the validity of the two models, as accurate descriptors of the Canadian social structure.
Assimilation, generally, is defined as the process of incorporating various racial and ethnic groups into a societyto which they have immigrated, in such a way that they mayhenceforth be described by the characteristics of the society in which they have been assimilated, as opposed to the characteristics of the societies from which they came (Gordon, 1964). On a formal level, assimilation is a "process of interpretation
and fusion in which persons and groups acquire the memories, sentiments, and attitudes of other persons or groups, and, by sharing their experience and history, are incorporated with them into a common life" (Gordon, 1964, p. 62). Cultural pluralism, by contrast, is defined as the process of incorporating various racial and ethnic groups into a society to which they have immigrated, in such a way that they may retain the characteristics of the society from which they came, while, simultaneously, fully participating in the society to which they have immigrated (Gordon, 1964).
Assimilation and cultural pluralism are the opposite poles of a continuum of perspectives as to how immigrant ethnic and racial groups should be incorporated into a society. One of the questions involved in this iss...