Forced assimilation

Other Names:
Dependence on forcible assimilation
Forced integration of peoples
Forced doctrination

An enforced policy of assimilation may be used to suppress subcultures, as an act of discrimination against minorities, or as a political instrument to create national unity and suppress possible sources of subversive activity. Forced assimilation is often synonymous with a policy of nationalism, described as 'Americanization' or 'Russification', depending on the country. Forced assimilation has been exercised under colonial rule in a qualified form: the selection of an elite from the non-Western people.

Minorities may be dispersed among the majority so that in no area are they a majority. Leaders and potential leaders may be forced to work far from their homes. Minority presence in political processes may be restricted or eliminated all together. Minorities may not be allowed educational opportunities in their own language, culture or religious tradition. Teachers from minority groups may be discriminated against. Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, radio, television, books, theatrical presentations or exhibits and archives referring to minorities may be restricted or forbidden.

Tension and friction between population groups may be the consequence of a policy of forced assimilation. This occurs when the concept of a multi-ethnic or multi-cultural society has not been accepted by the politically dominant ethnic group of a country, which feels convinced of the need for the assimilation of other groups.


In 1985, ethnic Turks living in Bulgaria were forced, at the cost of many lives, to exchange their ancestral Turkish names for Bulgarian ones, in a governmental attempt to denationalize the ethnic and cultural distinctions of those Turks. A similar policy was used by Indonesia against Chinese Indonesians. The Hungarian minority in Romania may be assimilated. In 1994 an African-American sued the government of the USA for slavery reparations and compensation for forced ancestral doctrination into a foreign society.

Gypsies living in the territory of today's Slovakia and Hungary were forced to settle down by decision of Empress Maria Theresia in the 18th century and her son, Joseph II. It was an attempt to break the vicious circle of the preceding situation, when Gypsies were denied the right to travel, yet they were forbidden to settle down. The new laws included establishing Gypsy settlements, provide work to Gypsy men and school education to their children. Besided, the use of Gypsy language was prohibited and Gypsies were to be renamed to New-farmers.

After World War II, the Czechoslovak state policy was oriented toward the assimilation of Gypsies. A 1958 act "On the Permanent Settlement of Nomadic and Semi-nomadic People" forcibly limited the movement of that part of the Roma (perhaps 5%-10%) who still travelled on a regular basis. In the same year, the highest organ of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia passed a resolution, the aim of which was to be "the final assimilation of the Gypsy population". The so-called "Gypsy question" was reduced to a "problem of a socially-backward section of the population". The solution to the high number of children in Roma families took the form of financial incentives for Roma women to undergo sterilisation. State arrangements were also oriented to solving the problem of housing by the liquidation of backward Romany settlements and resettlement of the Roma to urban settings. Although Romany cultural and ethnic identity was denied, organs of the state administration in communities and towns gave annual accounts of the population. This evidence was collected without the knowledge of the Roma, who were categorised according to the criteria of the social services. Similarly, when there was a census, people were not able to proclaim their Romany ethnic identity, but census officers nevertheless marked the forms without the respondents' knowledge to indicate that they were in fact Roma.

Forcing assimilation
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST