Difference Between Enculturation and Acculturation

Main Difference – Enculturation vs Acculturation

Enculturation and Acculturation are terms related to culture in the Sociological field. Enculturation can be simply defined as the individual acquisition of a particular culture by him/herself. Once a person is born into the world, he/she invariably follows the culture that surrounds him/her and the process of gaining these cultural traits is enculturation. Acculturation, in contrast, happens when two different cultures meet together. This is also known as the cultural change. The amalgamation of two cultural items can be defined as the process of acculturation. The main difference between enculturation and acculturation is that enculturation is the acquisition of one’s own culture while acculturation is the merging of two cultures. Let us look at the difference between enculturation and acculturation in more detail, in this article.

What is Enculturation

When a person is born into the world, he/she needs to learn how to live in the society around him/her. This acquisition of social values and norms is known as the process of socialization. Thus, enculturation is a similar word for socialization. Culture includes social values, norms, arts, beliefs, customs, traditions, food patterns, clothing styles and many more things that are needed in order to survive in that particular society. An individual should conform to these patterns and values to be accepted by others; otherwise, they would be considered to be deviants by the rest of the society. Parents, relatives, peers, colleagues and other social members help one to acquire the necessary social skills; throughout our lifetime we learn several cultural traits and try to adhere to those. Thus, enculturation teaches an individual of his/her position, roles, expectations and behaviors of the particular culture in which he/she lives in. 

Difference Between Enculturation and Acculturation

What is Acculturation

Acculturation can be identified as the second socialization process of an individual. This happens when two or more cultures meet together and there is a possibility for cultural interchange. When two cultures mix together, there can be exchanges in beliefs customs, traditions, clothing styles, food types etc. This change could be visible and affected to both cultures. At the time of colonialism, the dominated cultures mostly adopted the cultural traits of the dominant culture. There, acculturation was visible in many cultural aspects. In addition, group acculturation can occur when a whole group adopts the customs, traditions and change the social institutions accordingly. In individual acculturation, not only material aspects but also a big psychological change is also involved. He/she would change the daily behavior, clothing patterns, beliefs and so many other things. The refugees and immigrants also go through the acculturation process in adjusting to a new place. Acculturation, however, is an unavoidable and universal phenomenon.

Main difference - Enculturation vs Acculturation

Difference Between Enculturation and Acculturation


Enculturation is the first acquisition process about a culture by an individual.

Acculturation happens when two cultures meet together and when there is cultural interchange.


As soon as an individual is born, he/she begins to acquire the culture around him, with or without any influence. Thus, Enculturation is an essential requirement for survival.

Acculturation is not an essential phenomenon in life but occurs when two cultures meet together. Acculturation is not an essential requirement for survival.


Enculturation is the very first familiarization process to a particular culture.

Acculturation is not the first but second or third familiarization to various cultures.

Difference Between Enculturation and Acculturation - infographic

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