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Difference between Acculturation and Enculturation

Difference between Acculturation and Enculturation

When it comes to the process of cultural learning, two concepts often come up: acculturation and enculturation. While both terms are used quite frequently – especially in anthropology circles – many people don’t know what sets them apart from one another or how they differ. In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into these two topics and explore their differences so you can better understand each one individually as well as collectively.

What is Acculturation?

Acculturation is the process of cultural change and adaptation when two different cultures come into contact. The term was first coined in 1930 and describes the gradual adoption of a culture’s beliefs, values, customs, and language by those who were once foreign to them. Acculturation can often lead to a sense of identity crisis for those involved- struggling between the desire to remain true to one’s home culture and feeling the pull to adopt traits from a foreign culture.

Acculturation has an impact on different aspects of life, as it provides an opportunity for social advancement but also influences personal relationships, beliefs, and values. Ultimately, Acculturation is a complex process that can help bring people closer with understanding or drive them further apart through unfamiliarity.

What is Enculturation?

Enculturation is the process that occurs when a person learns the beliefs, norms, and behaviors of the culture they are growing up in. It’s a complex concept – one which can involve anything from language to values, to socialization. Enculturation starts from an early age and will continue throughout our lives as we find new ways to interact with others and experience different cultures.

While it’s usually not a conscious thought as we grow up, enculturation provides us with the crucial skills necessary for understanding and navigating the world around us. Enculturation gives us the knowledge, tools, and experiences needed to shape what kind of people we become – it gives us access to culture itself.

Difference between Acculturation and Enculturation

Acculturation and enculturation are two very different concepts, despite their overlap.

  • Acculturation is the process of a minority group adapting to a new culture, usually outside their own home, while enculturation centers on forming an individual’s identity in the culture in which they actually live.
  • Acculturation is generally regarded as a one-way street – one must learn the language, customs, and norms of the host country in order to be successful.
  • Conversely, enculturation emphasizes embracing and celebrating multiple cultures within oneself by focusing on both the cultural norms at home, such as language and social etiquette, as well as those of the nations visited.

Acculturation may be forced upon a certain subset of people for numerous reasons, even though it does bring positive aspects such as cultural understanding and integration. Enculturation represents a broader view of cultural diversity by highlighting harmony between diverse cultures rather than acclimating solely to another’s culture.


It is important to know the difference between acculturation and enculturation in order for to anthropologists can apply it to different research. In general, acculturation usually happens when people have direct contact with different cultures whereas enculturation happens when people are exposed to new cultures indirectly. Also, people may change their behaviors when they go through acculturation but they will not change the basic values that were learned during enculturation.

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