Acculturation is an anthropological and sociological concept that is related to the fusion of elements belonging to two or more cultures.

It is determined by a dynamic process of social and cultural change that takes place through the contact (direct or indirect) between different social groups.

These groups are influenced by different elements, and thus, they create new structures. As an example, we can mention the fusion between Greek and Roman culture that generated Greco-Roman culture.

Remember that culture is a very broad concept that involves knowledge, values, customs, ways of doing, practices, habits, behaviors and beliefs of a specific people. It is not static and is therefore in a continuous process of change.

Acculturation and Globalization

Currently, globalization is a process that has provided greater interaction between different peoples of the world. Along with this, we can mention the technological advancement which has facilitated the breaking down of barriers between different social groups.

In the age of communication mediated by the speed of information, people have incorporated some cultural and social elements from other groups.

If, on the one hand, “cultural globalization” enhances the loss of cultural identity , on the other, it decreases xenophobia among the peoples of the world.

Types of Acculturation

There are basically two types of acculturation which depend on the type of contact between the cultures involved.

  • Direct acculturation: it happens through processes that involve colonization, wars, immigration, etc.
  • Indirect acculturationindirectly occurs, for example, the means of communication (television, social networks, newspapers, etc.) that indirectly affect the ways of thinking and acting of certain social groups.

Cultural Acculturation and Assimilation

As we have seen above, acculturation can occur directly or indirectly. In addition, we can also include other aspects related to these.

By going deeper into the types of acculturation we have a process that arises from the assimilation of diverse cultural elements; and another, in a destructive way, in which the culture that had been dominated is in part, extinct. Both processes will depend on how this interaction occurs.

The first is developed by the cultural and social influence of different groups, however, without extinction of elements of both.

In this case, it occurs peacefully and enriches cultural heritage, for example, the influence of globalization on current cultures.

In the second model mentioned, acculturation happens through imposition. A notable example is the colonization of America in which Europeans imposed their customs hostile to the peoples who lived here.

Having made this observation, we can conclude that cultural assimilation is a concept that is closely related to that of acculturation. This is because it allows the inclusion of cultural characteristics and elements from other social groups.

Transculturation and Endoculturation

Transculturation is a concept that comes close to that of acculturation. It is characterized by the adoption of cultural forms and patterns from a different culture. This process occurs gradually, until reaching the acculturation characterized by the mixture or imposition of another culture.

Another cultural process similar to that of acculturation is endoculturation, also called enculturation. It is the process by which we learn, acquire and internalize values, norms and behaviors throughout life.


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