This is not a purely academic question. The narrative we use reveals quite a bit about how we think of ourselves and how we deal with diversity.
Recently, I came across an interesting article - "American Melting Pot vs Indian Cultural Mosaic" - which speaks to these issues over at New American Media. The essay is written by Punit Arora and originally appeared in India Currents.
The article defines "cultural mosaic" this way:
Cultural Mosaic is a term that was first coined by John Murray Gibbon in Canadian Mosaic. Gibbons disapproved of the American concept of the melting pot because he felt it asked immigrants to cut-off ties with their roots and culture and adopt completely alien practices. In contrast, he felt that Canada should promote a mosaic approach in which each wave of immigrants could contribute something new to the society.
Arora further argues that India offers more support for the mosaic approach:
While the United States necessitates that we each adapt to dominant cultural norms, India, more than any other country in the world, emphasizes the adoption and promotion of the “cultural mosaic” approach. By celebrating differences and by according legitimacy to the values held by all communities, India makes it possible to negotiate and develop a synthesis.
How do you think about diversity in America? Do these narratives matter? If so, how? To what extent do immigrants have a responsibility to assimilate ("melt") into mainstream American culture and to what extent should they maintain their cultural and historical ways?